For many celebrities, a red carpet outfit is a way to get people talking. The outfit an attendee chooses can make them go viral, turn them into a meme, or secure their place in Hollywood fashion history. As the cameras flash, all eyes are on them — and some celebs have used that moment to make an important statement.
Here are 24 times celebrities used their red carpet outfits to send a message:
1.Lady Gaga wore her iconic meat dress to the 2010 VMAs as a protest against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the US military, which prevented service members from being open about their sexuality.
2.Tracee Ellis Ross, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, and many other celebrities wore all black at the 2018 Golden Globes in support of the Time's Up movement, in which many survivors spoke out about sexual harassment and abuse.
3.At the 2021 Oscars, Travon Free wore a Dolce & Gabbana suit jacket with the names of people who were killed because of police brutality in the US written on its lining.
4.At the 2019 Emmys, Laverne Cox carried a rainbow Edie Parker clutch that said, "Oct. 8, Title VII, Supreme Court" on one side and "#TRANSISBEAUTIFUL" along with the transgender pride flag on the other, drawing attention to a Supreme Court hearing regarding the clarity of how protections from employment discrimination for members of the LGBTQ+ community fit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
5.In 1972, Jane Fonda won her first Oscar while the Vietnam War was still going on, so, feeling that it was a time for seriousness and "not a time for showy dresses," she wore an off-the-rack Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit she purchased herself.
6.In the wake of then President Trump's plan to eject people who were brought to the US as children, Padma Lakshmi wore a blue ACLU ribbon to the 2017 Emmy Awards in support of the DREAM Act, which would them grant permanent legal status and create a path to citizenship for them.
7.Joaquin Phoenix wore the same Stella McCartney tuxedo throughout the 2020 awards season to promote sustainable fashion and reduce waste.
8.At the 2019 Country Music Awards, Jennifer Nettles wore a Christian Siriano pantsuit and a cape with "Play our f*@#in records, please and thank you" written across it by artist Alice Mizrachi to draw attention to the lack of women artist playing on country radio.
9.At the 2020 Oscars, Spike Lee wore a purple and gold suit (Lakers colors) with the number 24 embroidered on the front lapels and the back as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.
11.At the 2021 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards, Zendaya paid homage to Eunice Walker Johnson, the business owner who founded the Ebony Fashion Fair to showcase haute couture fashion by and for Black women, by wearing a vintage YSL outfit the trailblazer previously owned.
12.At the 2017 SAG Awards, Kerry Washington wore a safety pin on her dress as a symbol of solidarity with those who felt threatened by President Trump's rhetoric regarding immigration.
13.To promote sustainability, the bodice of Saoirse Ronan's Gucci dress from the 2020 Oscars was upcycled from the black gown she wore to the BAFTAs.
14.At the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, a few months ahead of the presidential election, Lizzo wore a black Christian Siriano dress with "VOTE" written across it multiple times, and she used her acceptance speech to draw attention to voter suppression.
15.Jenifer Lewis attended the 2018 Emmy Awards in head-to-toe Nike attire to "applaud them for supporting Colin Kaepernick and his protest against racial injustice and police brutality."
16.At the 2018 Golden Globes, Connie Britton wore a sweater that said "poverty is sexist" because "nowhere in the world are women economically equal to men, nor do they have the same economic opportunities as men — and that inequality is even worse for girls and women in the world’s poorest countries."
17.As the first Black woman to host the CFDA Awards in 2018, Issa Rae wore five different outfits, all of which were created by Black designers.
19.At the 2015 VMAs, Amber Rose and Blac Chyna wore nude outfits painted with misogynist insults that have been hurled at them as a stance against slut-shaming.
20.At the 2017 Academy Awards, Emma Stone wore a gold pin in support of Planned Parenthood.
21.At the 2019 Met Gala, which was themed "Camp: Notes on Fashion," Lena Waithe wore a Pyer Moss suit that said "Black drag queens invented camp" on the back as a reminder to her fellow attendees.
22.At the 2015 Golden Globes, George and Amal Clooney wore "Je Suis Charlie" pins in support of press freedom and the Charlie Hebdo newspaper staff who were the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris.
23.Representative Carolyn Maloney wore a suffragette-inspired dress with sashes that said "equal rights for women" to the 2021 Met Gala in support of the Equal Rights Act, which would add the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to the US Constitution.
24.And finally, Aunjanue Ellis, who is a Mississippi native, wore a dress with "Take it down Mississippi" written across it the the 2016 NAACP Image Awards in protest of the Mississippi state flag, which was the last US state flag to feature imagery of the Confederate flag.
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