Ignoring Jennifer Lawrence, Aidan Smith casts a critical eye over the dress sense of Jeremy the ‘Primark D’Artagnan’ Irons and friends.
Honestly, I didn’t notice Jennifer Lawrence. Didn’t spot that her dress seemed to be missing large swathes of fabric. Failed to acknowledge that the gown was frontless and sideless. And therefore wasn’t able to ponder the vital question: “Would you call that look slashed-to-the-navel or cut-to-the-thigh – or indeed both?” Some trained observer!
What got my attention about the photograph publicising Lawrence’s latest film were the four guys alongside her. I mean, they knew they were attending a movie junket so should have been able to deduce that their presence in front of the cameras would be required at some point in the proceedings. Couldn’t they have made more of an effort?
The photo caused a stooshie. While the men – the director and three co-stars – were snugly wrapped up against the chilly February air, Lawrence was accused of setting back the causes of Me Too, Time’s Up and the other protests against bad, old, sexist Hollywood by letting Versace barely clothe her. Sorry, but I just didn’t see it that way.
Lawrence didn’t stand out in that shot and make a fool of herself, the guys did. If you missed the photo, let me take you through it: Lawrence was flanked on her right by Matthias Schoenaerts and Francis Lawrence who made Red Sparrow and on her left by Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons. A Belgian, an American, an Australian and Irons, the quintessential Englishman.
Schoenaerts and the director seemed to be competing over who could wear the scruffiest, most ill-fitting jeans, a contest won by the former because he also went with a pair of shoes in serious need of polishing. Both these men sported warm coats and vests could be glimpsed peeking out of their shirts.
Meanwhile Edgerton and Irons were competing over who could roll up their trousers and look least like a plonker. Irons, despite being 70 this year, triumphed easily because Edgerton, who wore two coats, was offering confirmation that Aussies struggle heroically but vainly for a sense of style.
That said, Jezza, flashing rather too many buckles on his stout boot, still managed to come across like a Primark d’Artagnan. The impression given was that Irons’ buddies had pitched up looking for a top sporting attraction and perhaps in the dinky zipped pocket on the arm of his suede jacket, Jez had four tickets for Scotland vs England at Murrayfield. Yes, that’s it: they looked like rugby fans. They certainly didn’t look like filmy types deserving of sharing a rooftop with Lawrence.
You see what I did there? I sort of objectified the men. Normally this happens to women. It shouldn’t happen to anyone, of course, and for the Primark reference especially I apologise (because I’m thinking Jez is more of a Topman kind of guy). But why isn’t Lawrence allowed to wear a fabulous frock to a movie event and look sensational? It was a photocall, for goodness sake.
If she’d turned up as drably attired as the men, never mind that her flick would have garnered less publicity, she would have been criticised by the newspapers which claim to be on the side of women, dedicating fluffy, back-of-the-book features to them. So she dresses like a gorgeous movie star and feminists assume she must have been forced against her will. Women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society said Lawrence’s photograph “sums up what is wrong with the film industry and wider society. It objectifies rather than respects her for the outstanding actor she is. We truly have a long way to go.” Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman magazine, tweeted: “This is such a quietly depressing (and revealing) image. Not least because I’ve been outside today and it’s bloody freezing.”
READ MORE: An interview with Jennifer Lawrence
Now I don’t know Lawrence any more than her critics do but I like her films, read her interviews and never miss her turns on The Graham Norton Show when she comes across as funny, free-spirited, self-deprecating, highly unlikely to dish up the standard actor gush (“Everyone on this film I’m here to relentlessly puff is my BFF”), as down-to-earth as it’s possible to be when you earn £10 million per movie – and nobody’s dumb blonde. She doesn’t need anyone to defend her, least of all me, as is obvious from her reaction to the criticisms. “I am extremely offended,” she said on Facebook. “You think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and scarf? I was outside for five minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress.
“This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Overreacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy overy silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold, that’s my choice too!”
The gown is familiar. It looks a bit like the one which shot Elizabeth Hurley’s career in a completely different direction. Previously Hurley had appeared in Dennis Potter dramas; afterwards she was never out of the tabloids. I was working for one at the time, and working on a different story – “The Top Hunks of the 1994 World Cup”, this for women’s section – when I was shifted onto follow-ups to the seismic shock caused by “that dress”.
Changed days, and a good thing, too. Lawrence is too good an actress to be defined by her frock, or to be done down by this “controversy”.
Her latest movie is lucky to have her and the PR department are lucky she brought some old-style showbiz glamour – still permitted, just about – to its promotion. Unlike those men.