Sofia Coppola isn’t a fan of red carpets these days. The Oscar-winning writer and director wrote an essay for W in which she laments the rise of the Hollywood stylist, who she says has killed the chance of women taking real risks at big award shows like the Oscars. Coppola calls the red carpet a “bummer” because all the women now look alike.
“I miss the days before actresses hired stylists, when women dressed themselves for formal events,” Coppola writes. “There was personality, style—and mistakes. I loved Cannes in the ’70s, when there was a mix of European glamour, Hollywood, and hippies: Nastassja Kinski in a cotton dress with flowers in her hair. Wearing a kimono jacket could pass as black tie.”
“Now everyone looks the same, with perfect grooming, gowns, and brand-new jewelry, as they parade a catalog of luxury items,” she continues. “It’s disappointing that actresses are expected to hire a stylist along with an agent and manager. Not only do they have to be good actresses, they are also all expected to be fashion icons.”
Coppola mentions such iconic Oscar looks as Cher’s beaded dress, Bjork’s swan dress, and Cybill Shepherds’ evening dress and Reeboks as the kind of personal red carpet risks awards shows just don’t see anymore. The director also nods to Angelica Houston, who needed a dress for the 1986 Academy Awards and worked with costume designer Tzetzi Ganev to create one. Houston provided Ganev with the fabrics she wanted to wear.
“I wish we lived in a culture where the actresses who aren’t afraid to take daring roles in films could also take some chances and dress like themselves,” Coppola writes. “I wish the business of fashion wouldn’t get in the way of personal style and self-expression, and would give us something to dream about.”
Coppola mentions that personal style isn’t completely dead on the red carpet. She praises Chloë Sevigny for “always looking like she picked out her own clothes,” and singles out Tracee Ellis Ross and Solange Knowles for maintaining a personal edge even when working with stylists. Coppola is also a fan of Kristen Dunst and Elle Fanning’s red carpet looks, because of course.
“I love when you see an actress who looks like herself, even if her look isn’t perfect,” she writes. “But for the most part, stars are done up in a glamorously generic uniform—a look so professionally executed that real women could never come close to achieving it for a formal event in their lives.”
Despite earning acclaim and a historic Cannes prize for “The Beguiled,” Coppola isn’t nominated for directing or writing this year. The 90th Academy Awards air this Sunday, March 4.