Posting to Instagram after the recycled unveiling, her longtime stylist wrote: “It’s chic to repeat.”
The red carpet has served as a crucial opportunity for celebs and their threads to land on coveted best-dressed lists since as far back as the 60s. But nowadays, Hollywood’s award season is less obsessed with a “who were they wearing” commentary than the powerful sartorial statements the stars are making in response to the biggest issues of our time.
For value-driven celebs, subverting the usual buzz around fresh fashion on the red carpet, perhaps by opting for a recycled rather than new outfit, directly challenges the status quo. When Stella McCartney took to Instagram in 2020 to announce that Joaquin Phoenix would be wearing the same tuxedo for the duration of the awards season, it made headlines, and several other notable celebrities have rallied behind the movement.
The positive environmental impact of rewearing an outfit is obvious, but it also begs a simpler question: why would anyone not want to wear a beautiful (often custom-made), garment more than once? “In today’s climate, it seems willful and ridiculous that such garments are not cherished and reworn,” said Blanchett in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. Her stylist Elizabeth Stewart added: “We need to get the word out to get rid of this ridiculous notion that dresses cannot be worn twice. Beautiful clothes should last a lifetime.”
Other stars including Emma Watson, Rooney Mara and Jane Fonda have used fashion to communicate their position on climate change. In 2019, Jane Fonda promised to never buy a “new” piece of clothing again. It seems she has stuck to her word, wearing an Elie Saab gown from the 2014 Cannes Film Festival to the 2020 Oscars. At the 2020 Oscars, Saoirse Ronan’s Gucci gown used upcycled black fabric from her BAFTAs dress, Margot Robbie and Penelope Cruz turned up to the event in vintage Chanel, and Kim Kardashian wore a vintage Alexander McQueen number for the Vanity Fair after-party.
We can’t forget Keira Knightley, who has repurposed her strapless Chanel wedding dress for multiple occasions, adding sleeves or a jacket for different looks. Of course, repurposing extends beyond the runway to royalty as well. Whether it’s a bid to be relatable, thrifty, or they really do care about our planet, Kate Middleton, Queen Letizia of Spain, and Meghan Markle regularly rewear their designer clothes. And from one big house to another, we’ve even seen Michelle Obama recycle a Dries van Noten favourite.
So, are their efforts quantifiable, and if so, what does outfit repeating amount to? According to Business of Fashion, not much. They teamed up with thredUP to estimate the amount of carbon saved from rewearing outfits. Phoenix’s tuxedo repetitions saved around 344.4 pounds of carbon, while Blanchett’s decision to rewear her 2014 Golden Globes Armani Privé dress to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival saved 795.3 pounds. BOF say that’s roughly the emissions created by burning 550 pounds of coal, which is relatively insignifcant in the context of annual global emissions. But in a less calculable sense, there’s a powerful, aspirational aspect to their actions.
Celebrities will always inspire us with their fashion choices. Amidst all the tulle, the sequins and couture creations, their influence could normalise (and in this case, glamourise) rewearing and vintage sourcing. As more individuals emulate their icons, the impact could be exponential.
Ready to be inspired to rewear? Feast your fashion-focused eyes on six of our favourite celebrity repeat outfits of all time.
Spotted at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1998 and then at Coty’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2004.
Originally her wedding dress, she also wore this flirty number at the Finch & Partners Pre-BAFTA party in 2008 and Serious Fun’s London Gala in 2013.
Has worn multiple times – first outed at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in September 2019 and again at the Violet Grey x Victoria Beckham Beauty event in November 2019.
She calls this halter gown “the gift that keeps on giving”. Worn five times, first at the premiere of Girls Trip in July 2017 and back in rotation that same year hosting Saturday Night Live.
Always ahead of the game rewearing outfits. This suit made its debut at Saint Laurent’s fall 2016 menswear collection and was recycled at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability celebration in March 2016.
She wore this lace mini to the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in 2004 and still looked chic in it at Chopard’s launch of The Garden of Kalahari collection in 2017.