When Megan Mullally was announced as host of the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards yesterday, Hollywood breathed a collective sigh of relief. After recent awards season controversies, and a resulting hunt for appropriate emcees, Mullally emerged as a candidate who is the total package: funny, smart, and engaging, she’s an ideal choice to enliven the insider event. But things hit an unexpected snag this morning when Mullally announced that she didn’t have a dress for the evening. In an Instagram post, the star revealed that she’s had to purchase many of her previous red carpet looks off the rack because designers don’t send her loaners. “Looks like I will be buying my dress online though, as per my usual,” she wrote. “Even though there is literally a 100 percent chance that I will be on camera, because I’m hosting.”
Mullally may be self-sufficient when it comes to finding her own outfits, but her post raised important questions about the nature of the red carpet system. Celebrities such as Leslie Jones and Melissa McCartney have also voiced similar complaints about brands refusing to dress them or loan clothes despite their box office success. Mullally is arguably a better known celebrity than many of the up-and-coming muses designers often fawn over: she has two Emmy Awards and stars in one of the year’s most successful shows, thanks to the highly-rated reboot of Will & Grace. And the platform of the SAG Awards, one of the most important nights in awards season, is certain to provide favorable attention to any label that dresses its host—so what gives?
Fashion may be gradually becoming a more welcoming and diverse space, but when it comes to who designers choose to dress, the old rules often apply. Putting runway looks on the back of a barely known—usually twenty-something and sample size—starlet remains the norm. While it’s exciting to see which new faces established labels will seek out next, it’s often at the exclusion of some of the world’s foremost talents. At 60, Mullally is undeniably stylish—the gilded Alexander McQueen gown she wore to the Vanity Fair Oscars party in March is a testament to that—but in their rush to dress the next Jennifer Lawrence or Emily Ratajkowski brands are overlooking the women who have paved the way.
The attention garnered from Mullally’s post led to a series of designers volunteering their services. Always quick to right a fashion wrong, Christian Siriano offered to make her a dress, as did evening wear specialists such as Elizabeth Kennedy. The social response means that Mullally should now have a several options to choose from, but a celebrated actress shouldn’t have to consult the Internet to be considered—brands should be lining up to dress Mullally. Instead of foisting clothes on those whose options are unlimited, an effort needs to be made to also feature older women, and those who aren’t a size 00. Some of the most exceptional fashion statements of the last year have come via celebrities age 60 and up, but it’s harder for those moments to even happen if the powers that be don’t think outside the box.