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Joaquin Phoenix’s tuxedo debate proves that sustainable red carpet fashion is a female burden

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Hollie Richardson
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Joaquin Phoenix

Stella McCartney has announced that Joaquin Phoenix will be wearing her eco-friendly tuxedo design throughout the whole awards season. This has sparked an online debate, highlighting the fact that eco-friendly fashion on the red carpet is actually a female burden.

The Golden Globes 2020 marked the start of this year’s awards season, which will no-doubt involve a rotation of glitzy parties, emotional speeches and extravagant red carpet outfits

As the world becomes more conscious about the climate crisis, the event took a sustainable steps by setting an all-vegan menu. Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which runs the awards, also said it will reuse the red carpet and any plastic used at the ceremony. 

Award-winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge announced that she would sell her custom black-and-gold suit to raise money for the Australia fires. And Where’d You Go Bernadette actor Troian Bellisario restyled her wedding dress for the occasion. 

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It’s clear that Hollywood is taking action on its contribution to global waste. But there is one sustainable act from the event that has raised an important question about celebrity sustainable fashion: is there more pressure on female celebrities to be sustainable than men?

Eco-friendly fashion designer Stella McCartney announced that Joker actor Joaquin Phoenix will be wearing a sustainable tuxedo from her collection throughout the awards season.  

“This man is a winner … wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet,” she said. “He has also chosen to wear this same tux for the entire award season to reduce waste. I am proud to join forces with you… x Stella.”

The response has been mixed. 

A fashion blogger pointed out how, ultimately, the expectation of women to wear a different outfit at every awards ceremony is deeply rooted in the patriarchy.

“I would like to see a woman wear the same dress (or even suit!) on all public-facing red carpet events for a whole year. Perhaps Stella McCartney could lead the way? The last person who (almost) did this was Tiffany Haddish with her McQueen, no?” they wrote. 

And comedian David Baddiel echoed the fact that sustainability at awards ceremony’s is a female burden.

He wrote: “It’s a tuxedo: part of the patriarchy, basically, that men don’t have to think about what to wear at awards ceremonies. How many versions of the completely same outfit would Joaquin Phoenix normally sport?”

One person called out double standards, replying: “It’s a pity that the female nominees/winners would be castigated if they adopted the same approach #DoubleStandards.”

Another fan added a humorous but accurate observation, adding: “Joaquin Phoenix is my favourite actor but nobody should be applauded for wearing the same tux 10 times or so. Maybe if he had been wearing it since Walk The Line. I’ve got a pair of knickers I’ve owned since 1997 does that count?”

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Of course it’s great that McCartney and Phoenix have collaborated to promote sustainability. He also used his winner’s speech to plead with actors to do what they can to limit their carbon footprints. The fact that Phoenix is taking the right steps towards tackling the climate crisis isn’t what’s really up for debate here.

The real question is: would anyone have even noticed if the actor wore the same tuxedo or not? The answer is likely no. But if a high-profile woman dares to wear a piece of clothing more than twice in public, it would instantly become news. 

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Images: Getty

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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