Earlier this month, Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood hit the red carpet for the 74th Annual Golden Globes and made one of the most striking statements of the 2017 awards season thus far – one that has resulted in conversation long after the conclusion of the Golden Globes awards ceremony – and continued right into this weekend’s Screen Actors Guild (“SAG”) Awards. She wore a suit.
It was not only Wood’s Golden Globes outfit of choice – a suit from New York-based brand, Altuzarra – that caught the attention of the international press. It was her statements in connection with that it, which truly positioned the garments as more than “just clothes” and as a vehicle for thoughtfulness, for individuality, and for a particularly timely social message.
When asked about her custom Altuzarra suit at the Golden Globes, Wood, 29, said: “This is my third nomination and I’ve been to the Globes six times, and I’ve worn a dress every time. I love dresses. I’m not trying to protest dresses, but I wanted to make sure that young girls and women knew they aren’t a requirement. And that you don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to, and to just be yourself because your worth is more than that."
She elaborated on the heels of the awards ceremony by way of an email to Vogue, stating: “I started feeling like some people needed a gentle reminder that we are more than just the dresses we wear. We are people; we work hard and put our souls into what we do. I made a promise to myself that I would wear a suit to every awards show this year. Not to protest dresses, but to let young girls and women know that they are not a requirement.”
Still yet, at Sunday’s SAG Awards, to which she wore another Altuzarra suit, Wood – a bold voice against sexual assault and an activist dedicated to serving the LGBT community – noted: “I think I myself felt pressure a lot of times that I had to look or dress a certain way, and especially growing up with the industry. So I thought, you know, I'm just going to go the other way and reach out to a little girl who is like me, possibly. So that's what I'm going for this year. It's all about choice."
In addition to her choice of suits, Wood has elected to rely somewhat exclusively on a budding young designer, Joseph Altuzarra, to make her point. A thoughtful designer, who perfected his craft at Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, and Givenchy, before launching his label in 2008, Altuzarra is a noteworthy choice to help Wood further her quest to bring awareness to her wardrobe and empower women while doing so.
One can ascertain from Paris-born, New York-based Altuzarra’s designs that he has a deep respect for the women he dresses; the garments are practical, well fitted, beautiful, and inherently wearable. They are expensive but made to last … and to flatter. He is not terribly frivolous with trends and aims – season after season – “to make the sophisticated modern woman feel seductive, strong and confident.” This is why he has garnered fans from Hollywood starlets to fashion industry elite to more unknown names that flock to his stockists each season, something of a feat considering that most brands survive not on garments but largely on the sale of handbags and fragrance licensing.
His long-time collaborator and stylist, Vanessa Traina spoke to Altuzarra’s design goals recently, saying, "He really wants a woman to want to wear something and feel great in it and comfortable." Speaking about the women he dresses, Altuzarra says, "I feel really proud and honoured that these women wear my clothes."
As for Wood, in particular, and the duo’s ever-evolving collaboration of sorts, it appears to have been in the making for some time. Wood began favoring Altuzarra’s work before the Golden Globes, opting for his suits for a number of occasions, including an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers and at the 2016 Critics Choice Awards, as well. She then turned to her stylist, Samantha McMillen, and the Altuzarra team to collaborate. And judging by Wood’s Instagram caption from Sunday evening – thanking Altuzarra “for making the best damn suits for me all season” – this might not be the last of them.
The designer, himself, speaks highly of the actress and her quest to inspire young women. “I understood that she was doing this as part of a statement about providing a counterpoint to what women usually wear to these awards ceremonies; and I think as a designer, the idea of having a fragmentation of what the ideal of beauty is was really exciting.”
Altuzarra further commented on how working with Wood aligned so well with his own mission as a designer, particularly as of late. He said:
Over the last few years I've become more and more aware of my role as a designer and how we can affect change, even if it's on a small scale. I think some of that is tied to the clothing itself, and some of it is tied to representations of women and of diversity; showing and embracing diversity and differences, and celebrating it. I think the message that Evan conveyed on the red carpet was really exciting and felt very in line with what I think about as a designer - it wasn't a message of protest, and it wasn't a rejection. It was actually offering another alternative, and that other alternative felt very inclusive of a lot more people, and I felt that was a beautiful message.
In this way, Altuzarra (one of the more vocal members of the fashion industry when it comes to his views on politics, the need to celebrate women and more) is not unlike Wood, who rarely fails to take the opportunity of her platform to put forth a meaningful message. After all, in connection with her appearance at the SAG Awards on Sunday evening, she wrote, “I was conflicted about what to say in times like these. But I believe now more than ever we need to show up and try to put some light in the world however we can, big or small. Use your voice and use your light.”