Why Joaquin Phoenix is already the best-dressed man at the 2020 Oscars
Ruffles. Flares. Cuban heels. Lace. White leather harnesses. Fields of velvet. Pink scrunchies and formal beanie hats and giant embroidered snakes on the back of dinner jackets. For the casual internet observer, seeing what celebrities do when they (or more often than not, their stylist) is given free reign with a luxury brand's finest wares is part of the fun of awards season. Over-the-top clothes for over-the-top people who absolutely, definitely, do not care that their bitter rival took the gong and wept uncontrollably on stage. "I'd just like to thank my AGENT!" There we go, grimace in forced happiness for them. That's it. Good. Next year. Next year is your year.
Tonight, when the great and ghoulish of Hollywood take to the red carpet and are bombarded by a constellation of paparazzi flashbulbs for the 2020 Oscars ceremony, one A-lister won't be the most extravagantly dressed man at the party. He'll be wearing a plain black tuxedo. It will be the same as the one that he wore to the Baftas, the Golden Globes and to the SAG Awards. And that outfit will be, in its own small way, Joaquin Phoenix's stand against the culture of waste that surrounds dressing up for a glitzy do.
"This man is a winner," tweeted its designer, Stella McCartney, on 6 January, after he debuted it at the Globes. “Wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same Tux for the entire award season to reduce waste."
This man is a winner… wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. 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#JoaquinPhoenix #GoldenGlobes pic.twitter.com/Ymbkl78ecN— Stella McCartney (@StellaMcCartney) January 6, 2020
Ok, sure, some of the replies were fairly choice. "How brave!" wrote one observer. "I can literally feel the planet cooling," tweeted another. But while it's easy to roll your eyes at a multi-millionaire not wearing 20 different four-figure suits, it does set a precedent by at least acknowledging that, more often than not, one is enough.
"The culture and habit of high-profile people dismissing clothes after a brief wear at awards is part of a culture that totally dismisses the value of nature," says Professor Dilys Williams, director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. "It’s a culture that the vast majority of high-profile people conform to, so kicking this habit – this culture – does matter. I don’t see it as a PR stunt as Stella is a designer of integrity – she has always cared about nature and applied that care to her work. It does matter because we all need to change what is socially acceptable, at all levels.
"I think that this is part of a shift in society, and some designers, houses, businesses see it. Some are being astute, they are offering repair service, rental, re-sale. The old model is broken, its not viable, its not relevant, and people are getting to be ‘over’ over-consumption."
As the odds-on favourite to take the best actor category for his leading role in Joker, there is speculation that, should he win, Phoenix will use his platform to discuss climate change rather than the multitudinous skills of his agent and the film's director, Todd Phillips. Phoenix has already taken a swipe at the private jet-set in his recent acceptance speeches (Leo grimaces, having flown in on his Lear), so you can imagine he'll pull few punches while picking up the best gong of them all. With a billion eyeballs on his special black tux, it's the kind of platform that even Extinction Rebellion can't reach.
Which is why, though it might seem like a silly PR stunt to the working tweeter, there is something to be said about a man choosing not to chuck his suit away after one wear, even though he can definitely afford to. Whatever our income bracket, most of us are guilty of buying, wearing and dumping clothes when we shouldn't. Anything that reminds us of that wastefulness is welcome. It's also proof that you can wear one well-fitting, well-made tuxedo for decades and it will never let you down.