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Why Bafta's red carpet didn't go green

In an attempt to make the awards event carbon neutral, Bafta urged its guests to rent or rewear gowns for the night. But with a few notable exceptions, most stars stuck to their usual custom couture, writes Meadhbh McGrath

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Margot Robbie attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Margot Robbie attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

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Laura Dern

Laura Dern

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Margot Robbie attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Ahead of Sunday's ceremony, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts was scrambling to change the rather unflattering #BaftasSoWhite narrative surrounding the event.

To deflect attention from their all-white acting nominees, the organisers valiantly attempted to shift to #BaftasSoGreen by claiming the event was going "carbon neutral". In addition to issuing guidelines on greener travel arrangements, ditching luxury gift bags and serving a plant-based menu, BAFTA introduced an eco-friendly dress code, encouraging guests to rewear something they already owned, hire an ensemble or choose a designer committed to sustainability. Attendees were provided with a guide by the London College of Fashion's Centre for Sustainability, offering suggestions for rental services, vintage shops and designers with eco credentials including Stella McCartney, Rejina Pyo and Reformation.

But a quick glance at the wardrobe credits from Sunday's red carpet shows BAFTA needn't have bothered - just about everyone ignored the memo. There was Best Actress winner Renee Zellweger in custom Prada, Scarlett Johansson in custom Atelier Versace and Charlize Theron in custom Dior.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Scarlett Johansson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Scarlett Johansson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Scarlett Johansson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Margot Robbie opted for Chanel couture, while Rooney Mara wore Givenchy couture fresh off the catwalk, which might have been a little awkward for her date, fiance Joaquin Phoenix.

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Rooney Mara attending the 73rd British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 2, 2020. See PA story SHOWBIZ Bafta. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Rooney Mara attending the 73rd British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 2, 2020. See PA story SHOWBIZ Bafta. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

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Rooney Mara attending the 73rd British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 2, 2020. See PA story SHOWBIZ Bafta. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

The favourite for the Best Actor Oscar, Phoenix has pledged to wear the same custom Stella McCartney tuxedo throughout awards season - a gesture which would have likely gone unnoticed had the designer not announced it on Twitter, to much online mockery.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Joaquin Phoenix attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Joaquin Phoenix attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Joaquin Phoenix attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Yet Phoenix has been outspoken about the climate crisis and celebrity hypocrisy in his speeches, calling out his peers for taking "private jets to Palm Springs" at the Golden Globes and lobbying the event to go vegan.

Rewearing (or what the rest of us would call "wearing") items already in our wardrobes is the most sustainable approach to fashion, something the Duchess of Cambridge championed in a gold embroidered Alexander McQueen gown last seen on a royal tour of Malaysia in 2012.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the EE British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 2, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Jeff Gilbert/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the EE British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 2, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Jeff Gilbert/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the EE British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 2, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Jeff Gilbert/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

Of course, Kate Middleton is in a notably different position from the celebrity attendees in that members of the royal family buy and own their own clothes, while actresses rarely get to keep their frocks.

Instead, they typically borrow a dress from a brand - often taking home a lucrative fee just to be seen wearing it - and afterwards, hand it back to the designer for their archives.

One of the few guests who abided by the dress code was Saoirse Ronan, whose Gucci gown was created using discarded satin fabric. "We wanted to create a gown that didn't waste any resources or people's time," her stylist, Elizabeth Saltzman, told Vogue. And Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore stunned at the after-party in an emerald silk number by Reformation, one of BAFTA's recommended sustainable labels.

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Saoirse Ronan attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Saoirse Ronan attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Saoirse Ronan attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Elsewhere, Daisy Ridley's Oscar de la Renta gown was made from sustainably-sourced chiffon, while Olivia Colman paired her Alexander McQueen dress with lab-grown diamonds from Atelier Swarovski.

For the majority of the guests, the marathon of awards season demands months of advance planning, so it's possible the BAFTA advice arrived too late to make changes beyond a pair of earrings.

But the mass flouting of the dress code calls attention to how outmoded the current system has become, highlighting the shocking amount of clothes stars cycle through each awards season, where gowns are often custom designed for one event and never seen again.

Going forward, let's hope we'll start to see a little more substance with all that style.

Belfast Telegraph