At The SAG Awards, Pale Pink Is The New Black

SAG Awards Pink Dresses
Photo: Photo Illustration. Photos: Getty Images

Is it ok to say that now?

Based on the red carpet commentary happening during Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, it seemed that no one wanted to talk too much (or at all) about the dresses, lest they appear superficial or lacking in the proper respect of the Time’s Up movement. In fact, it was more than 20 minutes into the E! channel’s coverage before a single designer was even name-checked, and that was when Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathe turned the tables on Giuliana Rancic and asked her what she was wearing.

To be fair, the importance of the conversations happening in Hollywood and everywhere and sexual harassment right now far outweighs the fashion credits, and Rancic kept the Time’s Up message front of mind, going so far as to ask Alison Brie about allegations against her brother-in-law James Franco. But generally, the banter remained as light and bright and “fangirling” as ever, of the who’d-you-like-to-take-a-selfie-with variety. On today’s red carpet, “What did you learn about yourself?” is the new “What are you wearing?”

VIDEO: 2018 SAG Awards Red Carpet Arrivals

But back to the new black, which, as I mentioned, is pale pink.

Unlike at the Golden Globes, where guests were encouraged to wear black in a very elegant form of protest, there was no such directive at the SAG Awards. The dominant, unscripted trend was pink. Kate Hudson wore a frilly pink Valentino dress covered in black hearts. Margot Robbie’s pastel pink Miu Miu dress was trimmed with a belt of feathers. Saoirse Ronan picked a soapy pink dress with rivers of silver crystals from Louis Vuitton, Connie Britton chose a rose gold sequined robe from Elisabetta Franchi, and Millie Bobby Brown sported a cute beaded tennis dress from Calvin Klein in a shade as sweet as cotton candy. But there isn’t really much to read into all this other than to recognize pink for its ongoing popularity rather than its obvious feminine connotations.

And yet, the success of the Time’s Up moment at the Globes has revealed many things about the superficial world of red carpet dressing, not the least of which is a simmering resentment toward all the pageantry and sexist commentary, even among those who are well paid by designers and jewelers to promote their products. So it is fairly surprising that it was business as usual, albeit in a safer space, at the SAG Awards.

Some of the more daring dresses – Nicole Kidman in Armani Privé and Allison Janney in Yanina Couture – were successful because they broke the pretty-princess mold with the powerful shoulders and protective armoring of superhero costumes.

“I feel like a warrior shaman or something,” Janney told Rancic on the carpet, which seemed a fairly straightforward invitation to ask her who made the dress. Instead, viewers had to turn to social media to learn more.

On the other hand, there were pretty-princesses-a-plenty, including some dresses with nipped waists and full skirts that looked arguably regressive, like throwbacks to a 1940's ideal of femininity. I’m not faulting the actors, here, but the fashion designers, who need to do their part in the Time’s Up movement by offering something modern to wear. That might be a silly point to make in the face of so much social progress with what these women are saying, as opposed to wearing, but we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the context of the red carpet if there wasn’t an acknowledgment that fashion, too, makes a very powerful statement.

And so, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I’m going to go there and name a best dress, or rather, my favorite look of the night: Yara Shahidi in a Ralph Lauren black jumpsuit made of silk cady with a tuxedo side stripe. Modern and youthful, feminine and masculine, the jumpsuit acknowledged the seriousness of the moment without neglecting the desire for style.

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