Punk, glam rock, chavs and now the BAFTAs. The British are a strange lot when it comes to fashion.
At the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, held at Royal Albert Hall in London on Sunday, stars ignored the post-pandemic memo of extravagant colour and out-there expressions of individuality to become black sheep following the lead of host Rebel Wilson.
Swimming in tiers of black tulle from Italian couturier Giambattista Valli, with blue sequinned relief at the waist, Australian comedian Wilson led her red carpet companions to the dark side. This warm-up event for the Oscars was an indication that stylists are translating the current bleak state of world affairs into gothic glamour rather than delivering a rainbow spectrum of optimism.
Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley, familiar with the temptations of the dark side, wore a black strapless Vivienne Westwood haute couture gown, with a full tulle skirt, looking like an updated evocation of John Singer Sargent’s portrait Madame X from 1884 rather than Darth Vader.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, a star who doesn’t need to be on film or television to attend such events, combined the other top trend of the evening, velvet, with her all-black Burberry gown. A square neckline, train and ruffled sleeves made sure that all other potential trends were ticked off an exhaustive list.
Recent child star Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things flaunted her ascension to age 18 in a black Louis Vuitton dress, slashed to highlight revealing lace and a bandeau top. It was almost enough to draw attention away from her date Jake Bongiovi, son of rock star Jon Bon Jovi, in traditional black tie.
Outlander actor Caitriona Balfe in broad-shouldered black velvet Armani Privé with a deep-V neckline was a modern Maleficent, Titane director Julia Ducournau in prim black Prada, Irish singer Jessie Buckley in an Alexander McQueen pantsuit, and model Adwoa Aboah and The Witcher’s Emma Appleton stuck to black Saint Laurent.
The Paris runways warned of this total eclipse of the red carpet with Givenchy, Saint Laurent and Comme des Garçons all delivering fashion noir collections, but perhaps we were distracted by Valentino’s searing tribute to pink.