Black on the red carpet is not the answer, but it's a start

America Ferrera, from left, Natalie Portman and Emma Stone, and former tennis player Billie Jean King. (Getty Images)
America Ferrera, from left, Natalie Portman and Emma Stone, and former tennis player Billie Jean King. (Getty Images)
Published Jan. 7, 2018

Black. Blank. The absence of color. The sobering, cavernous apex of nothingness.

It was the statement on the red carpet at the 75th Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, a show of solidarity after months of women saying #metoo, after devastating revelations about Harvey Weinstein led to the tumbling of another, another, another, another. The majority of attendees in 2018 chose to eschew color. Some brought activists as their dates. Many wore a pin promoting the legal defense fund Time's Up, which advocates for equity, parity and safety across all industries. Many celebrities have donated to the fund, which has raised more than $15 million so far.

But we're here to talk about the fashions. What to say about the fashions? This is not the year to make quips about toilet paper trains or grandma's drapes, is it? It's not the year to dissect bodice shapes and boob tape. Those days will return, and it will be fun again. For now, we're left in a complicated cocktail of values. We're left with black.

Fashion illuminates personality. It's a platform for expression, a declaration of status and intention. Color, shape, form, movement and structure say so much without words. I'm a movie star. I'm a quirky ingenue. I'm full of joy. I'm full of sorrow. I'm what you expect. I'm nothing you want me to be.

Black can be a flattering thing, but also unforgivably harsh. It exposes the face like a sturdy picture frame. It invites questions, betraying the tension in a room of cultural lions sipping champagne. It is stark against a red carpet that has for so long celebrated the truths we seek through art. But what is true?

All those people in hotel rooms. All those careers ruined. All those souls trampled.

Who knew it? Who did it? Who is still doing it? Who made it down the red carpet Sunday in black with a lapel pin and a hungry truth gnawing, twisting, rotting?

Who among them?

Who among us?

Black, blank, is not an answer to systemic sexual abuse. But black, blank, is also not the problem. Maybe black, blank, helps us feel uncomfortable at an event we've always popcorned our way through. Maybe black highlights the questions that still linger, the work that still needs doing. Maybe black is a decent place to start.

Contact Stephanie Hayes at and (727) 893-8716. Follow @stephhayes.