The red carpet on which a single glance summarizes the entire event is rare. But look at Lakeith Stanfield with fresh auburn hair in a deep V-neck Saint Laurent jumpsuit and a pointy white collar shirt. It was great in the ’70s, with Stanfield’s belted waist and broad shoulders and a dagger collar. But it was also ticklingly liquid. A bit racy. Very sexy. He looked hot, weird, and charismatic. As for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Judas and the Black Messiah, he looked like an artist. He looked just great too. It was like a treatise on the higher level of male style: this is what is going on here now.
If previous gendered styles like Billy Porter’s velvet tuxedo dress led to glamorous statements in 2019, Stanfields was more subtle, which is a nice read of the room, but also a more provocative use of fashion. “I wanted to express who he is as a person: someone who is thoughtful and playful,” said his stylist Julie Ragolia in a text message. The women’s Spring 2021 collection by designer Anthony Vaccarello from Saint Laurent “stayed with me,” she said, and they decided to adapt a piece of it, a slim overall, reminiscent of the designer of the same name for safari jackets, for Stanfield: “ Think of a way to balance the formality of such a show, that special nomination for LaKeith, and the seriousness of the times we all live in, it just felt thoughtful while we were still solemn. “Ragolia also noted that the look was made with sustainable materials.
It was also a lovely new chapter in fashion history books, like an Easter egg for the growing number of amateur social media fashion historians watching at home. Genderfluid style derived from female forms is the way of the moment. But it’s not quite as new as it often seems: Yves Saint Laurent’s most famous look, his famous “Le Smoking” look, was a men’s tuxedo that was customized for the women’s runway. Stanfield’s appearance was like an inverted Le Smoking – sampling from the sample. He sold the tuxedo back to men as a tool of female empowerment. Or, maybe even better, when a piece of clothing with a feminine sex appeal was shot through: “Go on and look, baby,” his outfit seems to be saying.
But even without that bit of history, the sexy mandate was clear. Before realizing the look of women, I thought Stanfield looked like a combo of Brad Pitt and his date Gwyneth Paltrow, circa 1996: Pitt’s grubby, unbuttoned look was smashed with Paltrow’s fluffed white chiffon pinafore dress. Stanfield clearly doesn’t have an actor’s uncertainty, at least when it comes to fashion. The menswear revolution on runways, in the music industry, and in men’s closets has been slow to make its way onto the red carpet. But Stanfield assures us that at least some of his ranks have measured what is going on.