Cate Blanchett carefully considers what she wears on the red carpet. With the help of stylist Elizabeth Stewart, the celebrated actress has worn some of the most iconic looks of all time, from a gold-fringed Balenciaga number at the 2007 Met Gala to a pleated Mary Katrantzou dress at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards to a yellow Valentino gown at the 77th Academy Awards. Indeed, she’s topped every best-dressed list, becoming the model for what to wear to ceremonies, film premieres, and other tony events. Now, she is using her influence to bring attention to the damaging effects that VIP dressing has on the zeitgeist—how it feeds the need for novelty when what is at hand works just fine.
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Ahead of the Venice Film Festival on September 2, when Blanchett will preside as jury president, she chatted with WWD about how she limits the number of looks she chooses from for events. And she is encouraging other stars to do the same.
“In order to move forward, it’s a gift to be able to look back. As we reemerge, it’s a chance to reassess—and cinema is always doing that, looking back on its past, paying homage and using that inspiration to forge new moments,” she told the trade publication. “Look at Hamlet, we retell that story over and over, and each time we tell it there’s new things to be found. And this is not some strange club. I’m not the only person doing this. It’s a chance to do something positive. It’s not a mandate, it’s a provocation.”
Blanchett’s goal is to have both designers and the celebrities they dress think about how clothes are produced at a rapid rate, and to really understand how the whole system isn’t sustainable. “It’s in the foundation, but we’ve seen over the last decade it used to be seasonal, now it’s trans-seasonal, multiseasonal, and brands are designing for outlet stores,” she said. “When you know the world is consuming 18 billion pieces of clothing a year, which is up 400 percent from a decade ago, you think, this is not working.”
Of course, Blanchett is aware that the problem can’t be solved overnight, but she is insisting that fashion houses take the steps to better themselves. “I do think most houses are engaged in the idea of sustainability, but it’s how do we turn our business model around,” she continued. “That can’t be done in 24 hours, but it must be done. I’ve talked about it with Mr. Armani and Sarah Burton [of Alexander McQueen], and I’ve been talking a long time with Roksanda [Ilinčić] about how we could do some sort of collection together that celebrates the recycling and repurposing of fabrics.”
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She also said that she can’t be the single voice in this cause. It’s going to take diligence by all to really move the needle. “The world isn’t going to be changed by one simple display in one particular industry,” she said. “What the pandemic has revealed, though, is that everything is connected, and profound change only comes about through collaboration. The language around climate change is always around sacrifice, not around possibility.”
This story originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US