After the 2019 Oscars, a look back on red-carpet fashion

Kyra Nagle, Staff Writer

From swan dresses to stunning custom-made gowns, the Oscars invite the fashion statements of the year. As Feb. 24 approached, actors and directors from around the world decide what to wear. What many people don’t know, however, is that deciding what to wear isn’t just about looking pretty. According to CNN writer Saba Hamedy, many political statements have been made in the past such as wearing black gowns with pins that say, “time’s up,” to support the #MeToo movement, or wearing orange pins and ribbons supporting the gun control group, Everytown. Along with small pins and ribbons, actresses wear full-length political statements.

In 2018, Rita Moreno donned her chic black and gold flowered dress from the Oscars 56 years earlier when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story. Critics have hypothesized that this was not an accident. Moreno told AARP that this was a statement to protest that, “roles for Latinos haven’t changed enough in Hollywood. We are vastly underrepresented.”

Just before that in 2017, Ava DuVernay flaunted a stunning silver gown after receiving the Best Director nomination for her documentary “13th.” Her gown was designed by Ashi Studio She told Insider magazine that she “chose to wear a gown by a designer from a majority-Muslim country.” DuVernay called this a “small act of solidarity” which was directed at President Trump’s now-rescinded executive order concerning refugees and immigration. This executive order indefinitely suspended the resettlement of Syrian refugees and temporarily banned noncitizens from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States.

Compared to the Grammys, the statements made at the Oscars are subtle. The dresses are elegant but make a point. Meanwhile, at the Grammy’s, artists are going all-out to publicly support important issues like President Trump’s wall bordering Mexico and the United States, and US immigration laws.

Singer-songwriter Joy Villa is known for making strong and powerful statements at the Grammy’s. In 2017, Villa wore a pro-Trump dress designed by Andre Soriano and wrote in an Instagram post, “sometimes you just gotta be free to express yourself 😍.”

Villa sported a white pro-life gown decorated by a hand-painted painting of a fetus while carrying a “Choose Life” handbag in 2018. In 2007, when Villa was 20 years old, she was 8 months pregnant. When she posted pictures of her gown on Instagram, she captioned, “I was 8 months pregnant with my beautiful daughter, whom I adopted out to a wonderful family. I’m incredibly blessed to have given life, and I hope to encourage anyone in a similar, painful situation to chose adoption🙏.”

Villa’s 2017 and 2018 statements were incredibly overt and they covered important issues in a broad way. Her dress from the 2019 Grammy’s was even more direct. To project her support for Trump’s border wall plans, Villa wore a gown by Desi Designs with the message “Build the Wall” and she carried a “Make America Great Again” handbag. Villa told Instagram, “Building the wall will cut down crime, protect children from being trafficked and stop 1 in 3 women from being sexually assaulted trying to get through illegally.” She continued to say, “It’s a humanitarian crisis. I support life. I support protection. I SUPPORT THE WALL!”

Villa’s gown was white with grey painted bricks, and the “Build the wall” message on the back. To go with the gown, she wore a necklace wrapped like barbed wire.

Contrary to Villa’s political statements, actress Kathreen Khavari from “Big Little Lies” arrived at the red carpet wearing a black minidress with “My Iranian immigrant mother teaches your kids how to read” written on the front. She told Newspaper “Daily Mail” that “initially my mom was “frightened about me wearing  [the dress] to such an event. She was afraid of the backlash. But I had to do it.” She continues to say, “We can’t allow ourselves to be scared into silence.”