Fashion

Emmy Awards 2018: the hidden symbolism of these red carpet outfits

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Kayleigh Dray
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These fashion moments have set the internet on fire – and for good reason.

Jenifer Lewis

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jennifer Lewis attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Jennifer Lewis attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theatre on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

As stars took to the red carpet, Jenifer Lewis, star of Black-ish, boldly supported Colin Kaepernick by wearing a bejewelled Nike sweater to the event.

Speaking to Variety about her red carpet look, Lewis said: “I am wearing Nike to applaud them for supporting Colin Kaepernick and his protest against racial injustice and police brutality. [I had thought to myself] What can I do? What can I do that’s meaningful? I’ll wear Nike. I’ll wear Nike to say thank you. Thank you for leading the resistance! We need more corporate America to stand up also.”

Her statement comes after Nike unveiled a major new ad campaign pegged to the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” slogan, with Kaepernick as its centerpiece. The former 49ers quarterback has been a polarising national figure since August 2016, when he became the first NFL player to stage protests by kneeling during pregame renditions of the national anthem.

RuPaul Charles

RuPaul poses in the press room during the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

RuPaul poses in the press room during the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

RuPaul made herstory at the 70th Annual Emmy Awards when he picked up the Best Host and Best Reality Competition Series gongs for RuPaul’s Drag Race – but also with his stunning Calvin Klein suit.

Emblazoned with Andy Warhol’s Statue of Liberty print, it sent a clear message to the masses: that America is the land of the free, for any and all who seek refuge there.

“Every time I bat my false eyelashes I’m making a political statement,” RuPaul joked to the Associated Press, when asked about the custom design.

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Fans of Padma Lakshmi were delighted when the actress stepped out in a very familiar J. Mendel dress – the very same gown, in fact, which she wore to an awards show last October.

“I’m excited to wear this beautiful J. Mendel dress again,” Lakshmi told People. “I think in this day and age we should stop sending the message to young women and girls that we all have these endless closets of clothes we never wear more than once, especially on a red carpet.

“The hours that it takes, the artisans’ labour and the gorgeous fabrics all deserve to be worn again and treasured. It seems wasteful not to enjoy these dresses.”

This time, though, Lakshmi accessorised her red carpet ensemble with a blue ribbon in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has fought to maintain the Dream Act, which allows those who immigrated to the US as children a clear path to citizenship.

Sarah Sophie Flicker

Glow director Jesse Peretz’s wife, activist and performer Sarah Sophie Flicker, appeared on the carpet with “Stop Kavanaugh” – along with the phone number to the U.S. Senate – tattooed onto her arm.

The statement is in response to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexually assaulting Christine B. Ford, a female classmate, when they were in high school. He will face a Senate vote on his nomination next week.

Taking to Instagram to show off her temporary inking, Flicker wrote: “For the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with a vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh this week, without pausing for a thorough investigation of the allegations of sexual violence, would be a gross injustice and an insult to women. Stop the vote.”

Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

Tiffany Haddish attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

Tiffany Haddish arrived at the 2018 Emmys in a custom rainbow-coloured gown by designer Prabal Garung – a far cry from all the muted hues seen on the red carpet this year. 

And, speaking to E!, she explained that her dress was inspired by the Eritrean flag, the birthplace of her late father.

“It’s custom actually,” she said. “I asked them to make a dress that represents my father’s land.”

Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Evan Rachel Wood attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood – who brought activist Amanda Nguyen to the awards show as her date – wore a blue ribbon in support of the ACLU’s fight to reunite immigrant families separated from their families.

“I think we’re at a crucial time in history right now, especially for women and especially for civil rights,” she told E! on the red carpet. “If I have even a little bit of power right now I want to use it for good.”

Tatiana Maslany

Tatiana Maslany attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Tatiana Maslany – who was nominated for her standout role in Orphan Black –wore a Planned Parenthood pin to the Emmys.

“I’ve always stood by Planned Parenthood. I support a woman’s right to choose and autonomy over their bodies. I feel that’s threatened,” the actress told USA TODAY.

There have been concerns that Brett Kavanaugh could help chip away at women’s reproductive rights if he is elected to the Supreme Court. When asked if she was referring to Kavanaugh’s nomination, Maslany said yes. “That someone would try to take away [our rights] from us is horrifying.”

Q’orianka Kilcher

 Q’orianka Kilcher attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

The Alienist’s Q’orianka Kilcher opted for a subtle fashion statement, accessorising her red wine-coloured gown with a pin that read: “I am a voter”.

She said her message was important because “all of our voices matter and all of our votes matter”.

Madeline Brewer

Madeline Brewer attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on 17 September 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Madeline Brewer, who plays Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale, swapped her red robes for a black gown and white roses, to mark her support of the #TimesUp movement.

Images: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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