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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

When  It was a dream dress, O'Hara ripped the curtains from the war torn windows of her beloved family home and made herself a dress she proved that a) adversity is very often the seed of invention and b) in another time (or book) she may well have been John Galliano or Carrie Bradshaw.

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O'Hara is one of literature's great fashion mavericks. Bold and unapologetic in her wardrobe choices, she used clothes to make a point, punctuate conversation and achieve an outcome.
As she walked the mud filled streets of the fallen south in her green velvet dress she chose not to hear sniggers and avoided stares because she was 100 per cent committed to her look. The frock had ceased to be a curtain. It was a dream dress, one that would win her the man and save the day.
Fashion fail: Lena Dunham.
Fashion fail: Lena Dunham. Photo: Getty ImagesI couldn't help think about said dress as I watched Lena Dunham walk the red carpet at the Emmys on Sunday. Her Prada ball gown was reminiscent of Margaret Mitchell's heroine. Full skirted and floor length, it looked as though it may have been fashioned from drapes found in Zelda Fitzgerald's Paris apartment. It was a joyous dress and Lena wore it that way. Smudging on matching green shadow and straightening her fringe, she looked delighted to be in such a creation. The magic was in the realness she brought to the couture. The same realness that's outward in her writing, the same realness that HBO has bottled and syndicated to hundreds of countries.
AdvertisementAnd yet … Lena got slammed. Slammed for the cut of the dress, the colour of the dress, the way the dress fit. Slammed for her tattoos – apparently they're more offensive than those of Angelina Jolie or Rihanna. Slammed for her hair, slammed for her make-up. Hate for Lena's Emmy look almost broke the internet.
Lena Dunham is the exception in Hollywood. She's not size 0 or even size 6. She has half a sleeve of ink on one arm, she doesn't spray tan, her hair looks like perhaps she cuts it herself, she posts unfiltered shots of herself on Instagram, doesn't have a "hashtag Glam Squad" and she lives in Brooklyn.
This makes her fabulous and a target in equal measure.
Ahead of the Emmys she tweeted: "Please don't tell me again that I walked badly in heels at the Golden Globes." Then during the ceremony she upped the ante: "If you don't have anything nice to say... go hang with my grandma at assisted living."
Sure, like everyone else at home on the couch, I too thought Rose Byrne, Claire Danes and Robyn Wright looked achingly beautiful but it was Lena I wanted to have a drink with. It's so sad that someone so talented is cut down for not looking how we want her to look. Mega stylists and movie studios have turned the red carpet into a competition of caution. Nude, pink, white, red, black, glitter, sequin, fishtail, strapless, one shoulder … I long for the days when Bjork turned up dressed as a swan, Demi teamed bike shorts with black brocade and Cher wore a headdress. The size of a small palm tree.
Bring back those days, bring back those women. Bring back that choice.
The saddest part about Lena's green dress hate is the message it sends to all the girls that look like her, or identify with her writing and dream of wearing zany dresses just like that. We shouldn't be stripping them of a hero or suggesting they need to play it straight.
Fashion, like life, is about risks. Imagine if Scarlett hadn't taken a punt on those drapes? Tomorrow may not have been another day. It would have just been like any other … and who the hell wants that?
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