On Oscar night, Natalie Portman went vintage. Standing on the red carpet she looked stunning in a classic fifties red and black polka dot, strapless, Dior dress. The dress is from Rare Vintage on 57th street in New York City and is an actual 1954 spring couture dress. Ms. Portman was honored to borrow it for the evening (it's a $50,000 dress) and wear such a rare and beautiful piece of historical fashion.
What does it mean when one of our leading ladies graces the Hollywood night of the year in vintage couture? While many others were looking to head up best-dressed lists with something unprecedented, alluring or classic, Portman bypassed the line of women waiting to be ranked and judged from hair to toe. No one can judge a vintage Dior dress. It's historical fashion. It resides far outside our current standards of beauty. It doesn't need Portman and she didn't need it. The mere history of such a dress resides independently of any woman who puts it on. It could be hanging in a museum and we would find ourselves transfixed with its rich charm and design.
Unlike many women who dress for the Oscars, Portman clearly felt confident that her talent and her presence was enough. She didn't need her dress to speak volumes about the quality of her acting or herself as a person. The woman who chooses vintage has nothing to prove. She stands in her own dignity and so does the dress. When she finds herself wrapped in haute couture, she is immune to current trends and instead embraces a class and dignity that simply cannot be found in a garment that has not yet withstood the test of time.
I admire a woman, like Portman, who can so bravely stand equal to her clothes. We need more examples like Portman's in fashion because too often women fall into the trap of thinking fashion is meant to enhance what we don't feel confident about. In truth fashion is an art form in which each article of clothing can stand independently of the wearer. Each piece has its own history, inherent beauty and worth. Equally true is the fact that the wearer has her own inherent and independent beauty and worth. A woman with this recognition moves with a grace and dignity that a person who yearns to prove themselves through style simply doesn't have. A woman who truly embraces this dignity embodies those qualities no matter what she wears.
Therefore, it is not imperative that she chooses a dress that shoots to the top of every list or makes fashionistas swoon. She can dress quietly and with dignity and know that her talents speak for themselves. It no longer becomes about proving anything to anybody. It truly becomes a very mature relationship with fashion.
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