In Defense Of Naomi Watts’ Corporate-Sponsored Gown

There’s been lots of chatter about the gown Naomi Watts will be wearing to the Cannes Film Festival red carpet. Other actresses will be wearing gowns courtesy of Chanel and Dior. Watts will be wearing a gown courtesy of Prudential Financial. Fashion just got Fortune 500 on us.

There are fashion diehards who aren’t thrilled that the financial institution will be featured amongst the couture. Fashion website The Cut says:

“It’s bad enough that the red carpet has become an unimaginative shrine to luxury conglomerates, but with non-fashion corporations muscling in, this might as well be NASCAR — with each star racing around draped in advertising.”

I kind of, sort of get this point. But why can’t actresses be like NASCAR drivers? The red carpet has become a kind of fashion gladiator tournament where female stars are forced to compete for some “best dressed” gold medal. Why can’t they profit off the event, and call it like it is? It’s a money-making sport — at least it is for the designers, photographers, filmmakers and fashion pundits. If actresses are going to carry the weight of the game and be closely scrutinized for what they’re wearing —while actors just stand around and enjoy themselves — they may as well make a buck doing it.

That said, it’s NOT like Watts’ dress is going to be a NASCAR outfit with McDonalds and Subway logos everywhere. The dress isn’t a soulless wearable billboard for the company.  Ad agency Droga5 created an awesome-sounding campaign for Prudential Financial entitled “Chapter Two” in which the financial services company helps retirees achieve life-long dreams. One of these retirees, 61-year-old Francesca Azzara, has always wanted to be a fashion designer, and so with the help of Marchesa designer Georgian Chapman, she is fulfilling that dream by designing the gown that Watts will wear on the Cannes red carpet.

Prudential is doing good in a self-serving manner, but they’re still doing good, which is more than I can say for most billboards and pop-up ads. Yes, it’s completely weird that Naomi Watts will have to say “Prudential Financial” when asked “What are you wearing?” Fashion was already completely weird, we’ve all seen “The Devil Wears Prada” so we all know this. Should we really be that surprised?