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Frances McDormand brilliantly explains why she wore that ‘controversial’ BAFTAs outfit

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Kayleigh Dray
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This is why Frances McDormand decided to go against the requests of Time’s Up…

The trend started at this year’s Golden Globes, as both men and women donned black to draw attention to Time’s Up, the new sexual harassment prevention campaign that launched on 1 January.

Since then, red carpets have been a sea of black – and the same was true of this year’s BAFTA Film Awards, after members of the initiative sent around a letter urging guests “to wear black to the awards ceremony, to follow suit from our sisters who attended the Golden Globes”.

However, Frances McDormand – who was awarded Best Actress in a Leading Role for her brilliant performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – caused a stir when she seemingly opted out of the awards season ‘black out’.

Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, Martin McDonagh, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin at the 2018 BAFTAs

In Three Billboards, McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother who uses the three billboards of the title to admonish the local chief of police, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), when he fails to find the man responsible for her daughter’s violent murder.

In sequence, they read: “Raped while dying”, “And still no arrests?”, and “How come, Chief Willoughby?”

And, earlier this month, activists calling for justice for victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire took a leaf out of Hayes’ book, mounting their own three billboards on the backs of lorries and driving them around London.

It makes sense, then, that McDormand decided to go against the all-black dress code in order to honour protesters and highlight the importance of “civic disobedience”.

Gesturing towards her outfit, which was a black and red dress decorated with a pattern of lips putting on pink and red lipstick, she said: “I have a little trouble with compliance, but I want you to know that I stand in full solidarity with my sisters tonight in black.”

McDormand continued: “I also want to stay that I appreciate a well organised act of civil disobedience.

“I’m thrilled that activists all over the world have been inspired by the set decoration of the Three Billboards in Martin’s film and have taken to the streets and let it be a part of the positive public discourse that’s happening.

“And I want thank Blueprint Productions and FilmFour and Fox Searchlight for carefully shepherding Martin’s films, Guillermo’s [Del Toro] films, because not only are they entertaining, they encourage a longer and broader cultural conversation.”

The Time’s Up initiative, as we previously reported, will seed a legal defence fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.

It will also include the legislation needed to protect against sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace, as well as a drive to reach gender parity across Hollywood.

You can read all about Times Up and learn how to get involved here.

Images: Rex Features

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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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