the golden globes: lessons on visual unity
Some years ago my son's class puzzled about why the new art teacher wore a black suit and t-shirt everyday. One youngster plucked up the courage to ask and received this answer " I choose black because I want my art to communicate but I remain neutral". Is that possible my son queried. Of course my answer was no...we can not NOT communicate. Every outfit sends a message.
This was powerfully clear at the Golden Globes where black was the color of solidarity with the #metoo and #timesup movement. It could have been pink like the pussyhat, symbol of visual unity for the Women’s March. “If everyone at the march wears a pink hat, the crowd will be a sea of pink, showing that we stand together, united,” wrote Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman in their widely distributed PussyProjectPDF, which covered the Washington Mall covered in a vast swath of pink. And as with my sons's art teacher, at the Globes there was no such thing as a neutral color. Visual unity meant wearing black to identify your stand against abuse and inequality. The three women who wore other colours are in the press defending their color choices. Such the power of wardrobe. One of my favourite style writers, Robin Givhan of the Washington Post posed two questions regarding the Globe outfit and color choices.
1. In 2018 haven't we moved beyond needing outfit symbolism?
This would be like wanting to move beyond the symbolism of body language. In the NFL the impact of a player kneeling during the national anthem is immediate. Wearing black at the Globes symbolised solidarity with #meetoo and confirmed the power and immediacy of wardrobe as a visual unifier. Leaving three non-black wearers to explain/defend their stance on the issue. Obviously it was possible to wear red and support the cause but it took explaining. Meher Tatna made it clear she strongly supported the cause and this outfit she bought with her mom 8 months ago. I am not sure if the German model was as confident and comfortable with her decision to stand out in her silver gown amidst the sea of black. Had I been her stylist before we discussed outfits we would have acknowledged that body language and appearance symbolism speak louder than words. My first question would have been: Are you truly confident being the only one in a silver party dress when everyone else is wearing black. Do you believe strongly that women sparkling is the most essential factor at the Globes and will you feel confident defending/explaining? My job is to help clients make reflected, creative strategic decisions around clothes. To understand the power of symbolism and use it to their advantage whatever choice they make. the take message is clear; in a sea of clearly defined visual unity what kind of impact and influence do you wish to have? This requires self-reflection and purpose...what are you standing up for and how can your message be seen, heard and valued with razor sharp clarity
2. Why choose black not yellow?
Black comes in one shade was was a simple idea to implement. Finding a yellow one would have been more complex as there are so many shades not only of yellow but related colors that clarity would have been lost.The pink pussycat item twas self-made and pink wool is easy to find. Since a yellow outfit would have posed quite the challenge I think black was the easiest way to go.
Take home message: whatever your job or occasion, in a sea of defined visual unity what kind of impact and influence do you wish to have? Self-reflection and purpose...empower you to communicate clearly what you standing for by ensuring your message is seen, heard and valued with razor sharp clarity.
Oprah. Fashion shows still promote super thin as the ultimate body type and the curvy woman has long been neglected in mainstream fashion magazines. So I found her choice fabulous: the black united her to the cause, the glamorous Versace bodice gown authentically accentuated her female form. Her outfit choice was the supporting of a reflected, creative and strategic woman of impact and influence.
Salma Hayek. Loved this one too. The black turtleneck combined the symbolism of French intellectuals like Juliette Greco and the visionary minimalism of Steve Jobs into a sexy smart choice.
Viola Davis: a beautifully supportive dress communicating, sexy grown -up elegant sophistication. The dress was stunning and didn't need even need the necklace. But fabulous either way.
Frances McDortmand: completely in character with who she is and what she stands for. Expressed her personality and values, in a dress that was timeless and spartan.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/magazine/frances-mcdormand-difficult-women-career-surge.html