When it was announced last month that actresses would be wearing all-black on the Golden Globes red carpet this year as a way to protest the sexual harassment in Hollywood, there was plenty of criticism surrounding the demonstration, with the main query being: can a sartorial protest actually enact social change?
The call for attendees to wear all-black is one of the many pushes by Time’s Up, a Hollywood initiative to end sexual misconduct and gender inequality in the workplace backed by the likes of Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon. Still, the question remains: can wearing a black gown help reform a deeply flawed system?
For noted celebrity stylist Cristina Ehrlich, a style power player for more than two decades who counts everyone from Penelope Cruz to Brie Larson as clients, the answer is this: The red carpet can be a powerful platform to start important conversations, especially in light of the recent reckonings of sexual harassment in Hollywood.
“I truly believe 2018 will be the era of accountability and I can’t think of a better way to kick it off,” Ehrlich told TIME. “The red carpet is watched globally and is therefore an incredible platform for and the perfect place for this sort of demonstration. Where in the past the red carpet has been about glitz and glamour, this year it isn’t about standing out, it’s about standing together and speaking out.”
For the Golden Globes this year, Ehrlich’s clients will include Laura Dern, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Allison Williams, Alison Brie and Yvonne Strahovski; Ehrlich noted that choosing black looks for the red carpet this year was important because not only would it support Time’s Up, but also because it was “a bold and brave expression that will hopefully lay out a new landscape.” She did acknowledge, however, that there are plenty of other opportunities in addition to the black dress protest to help bring light to these issues, with “endless ways that people can stand up and speak out.”