A dress by any other name

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A dress by any other name

Scarlett Johansson's controversial choice for the Met gala

Charlie Gowans-Eglinton

This year’s Met gala came with perhaps it’s most controversial dress code of all time: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Some of the outfits were as attention-grabbing as you’d imagine – but it wasn’t just Rihanna as minidress-wearing-pope making headlines. One of the most contentious outfits of the night was, at first glance, one of the most understated.But Scarlett Johansson’s  feminine two-tone tulle dress, while unmistakeably lovely, made a statement all of its own – and not because it didn’t seem to reference the theme of the evening.
The design was by Marchesa, the label helmed by Georgina Chapman, recently-ex-wife of Harvey Weinstein, the first time an A-lister has worn the label since allegations of sexual abuse – of numerous women, and dating back decades – against Weinstein were raised in October last year.Johansson’s choice becomes more controversial still given that she has never spoken out against Weinstein, despite roles in Weinstein Company-produced films like Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Her comments that condemning Allen following Dylan Farrow’s accusations would be “guesswork” have also drawn fire. But Johansson is also an outspoken supporter of the Time’s Up movement and gave a speech at the Women’s March in Los Angeles in January.Considering that Chapman has since filed for divorce, it might seem unfair to hold her accountable for her husband’s actions. But Marchesa came to prominence through a number of red-carpet appearances, often on actresses who worked with Weinstein. Jessica Chastain has since said that the media mogul attempted to pressure her into wearing the label. 
In February, Marchesa’s catwalk show during New York Fashion Week was cancelled – though private buying appointments were still held, and Marchesa gowns were not pulled from the rails in stores or online. But can a brand so closely aligned with Weinstein survive?In March, Chapman returned to work. Designer Diane von Furstenberg, seeing her at a board meeting of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, told The Hollywood Reporter: “We were all happy to see her. Georgina is a great designer, engaged board member, devoted mother and good friend. We all support her.”  
Anna Wintour, who is the chair of the Met gala and therefore approves every guest’s look, was a long-time ally of both Weinstein and Chapman, often sitting front row at Marchesa’s fashion shows. If the label is to become a red carpet regular once more, then Wintour will be a vital ally.So far, Johansson has chosen not to speak publicly about her choice of dress designer, so we can’t be certain of her motives. But on the world stage, a dress is never just a dress.
– © The Daily Telegraph

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