Getting a dressing down

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In 10 days’ time it’s the Oscars. For Fashionizer, that usually gives us an opportunity to pick over the rights and wrongs of what the actors choose to wear at the awards ceremony. But this time there is an added frisson: what will the celebrated and award-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan be wearing?

Jenny is nominated for an Academy Award for Mad Max: Fury Road, for which she won a BAFTA last weekend. We always have one eye on the red carpet at these events, and we had expected to be blogging about Cate Blanchett’s colourful Alexander McQueen gown, or Kate Winslet’s simple, black asymmetric, figure-hugging long dress, for example. Sadly, though, those dresses were almost instantly forgotten, eclipsed by the fact that Jenny (pictured) decided to dress down rather than up – prompting MC Stephen Fry to comment that she came to the awards ‘dressed like a bag lady’. And what a stir that comment caused.

Actors are expected to turn up ‘red-carpet-ready’. It is, arguably, part of their job. But should that same rule apply to those who spend their working life behind the scenes?

Well, yes. Because at times those who work behind the cameras are sometimes find themselves in front of them, and that is a whole new game.  We can empathise.  At Fashionizer we’re in a similar position to those who work in film and theatre costume design (in fact, that is where it all started for our MD Debbie).

Behind the scenes, we appreciate each team member’s individual style, but some of our work is about meeting clients, suppliers or even the press. That’s when we go in front of the cameras, so to speak – and then there are rules: leave your jeans at home, dress smartly and appropriately.  It’s a question of context. When we are invited to industry awards ceremonies we spend a long time planning what we are going to wear – because that is a mark of respect for the occasion and a perception on the standards of the company.

But there is another context in Jenny Beavan’s case: when you have already won one Oscar and been nominated for nine more, how much would you really care?

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