To the untrained eye, Scarlett Johansson's gauzy Met Gala look was a bit of a snooze, lost under the shadow of Rihanna's papal hat.
But in a sea of beaded, jewel encrusted capes (Cardi B), shiny Versace crosses (Kim Kardashian West) and halo headpieces (literally everyone else), Johansson's understated ensemble was actually one of the most significant, and perhaps most on-theme.
Why, you ask? The Avengers actress' gown was by Marchesa, the 14-year-old label founded and run by Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman—the latter of whom is Harvey Weinstein's estranged wife. Johansson's outing marks the first major red-carpet appearance for the brand since Weinstein's fall from grace back in October, when dozens of women accused the once-exalted movie producer of sexual assault and harassment. For Marchesa, this is a major moment of redemption—a religious tie-in if there ever was one.
In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, Hollywood stylists shied away from outfitting their clients in Marchesa, especially once it was revealed that many actresses starring in Weintstein-affiliated films were bullied into wearing the then-fledging brand by Weinstein himself. Felicity Huffman, who starred in the 2005 film Transamerica, said that she wore Marchesa while promoting the film at the behest of Weinstein, who threatened her career over the matter. A number of A-list stars like Cate Blanchett and Renee Zellweger were also spotted wearing Marchesa while promoting Weinstein's films in the mid-2000s, which at the time put Marchesa on the map and helped it blossom into a major red carpet player. But the major issue fashion grappled with was, should the brand be punished for Weinstein's actions?
During the politically charged red carpets this awards season—especially the Golden Globes blackout—there was nary a Marchesa gown to be found. Earlier this year, however, it was revealed Council of Fashion Designers of America welcomed Chapman back into the fold, voicing their support for the designer and applauding her comeback. "It's disturbing when women are penalized for the crimes of an abuser," Diane von Furstenberg told The Hollywood Reporter.
In a statement about her dress to People, Johansson said, “I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful and it is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important female designers." The 33-year-old actress, notably, has been an active part of the Time's Up movement in Hollywood.
While Johansson's burgundy dress had no crosses, halos or Madonna references (either to the pop singer, who performed inside the event, or the mother of Christ), it represents a revival for the brand on fashion's biggest stage. Marchesa is back, and the fashion community (but perhaps most significantly, Anna Wintour, who told Stephen Colbert on Wednesday evening, "I mean, Georgina is a brilliant designer, and I don’t think that she should be blamed for her husband’s behavior. I think it was a great gesture of support on Scarlett’s part to wear a dress like—a beautiful dress like that on such a public occasion") is standing squarely behind it.
Regardless of your feelings about the brand, a redemption is most certainly in the theme's spirit.