Though she’s known for her chic sense of style, Scarlett Johansson still finds herself a target of sartorial scrutiny every so often. And at the 2018 Met Gala, the actress’ choice of dress landed her in particularly hot water. However, the Avengers star didn’t bow down to popular opinion and instead came back with a thoughtful response.
Born in New York in 1984, Johansson spent much of her early life acting in film and television. And roles in the likes of 1997 family comedy Home Alone 3 and 1998’s The Horse Whisperer saw her prove her skills in her chosen field. But it wouldn’t be until Lost in Translation hit theaters in 2003 that Johansson would become a well-known name in Hollywood.
Cast as the young and yearning Charlotte, Johansson – only 17 when the film was made – lit up the screen. And the actress’ performance landed her honors from the British Academy Film Awards and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Moreover, it signaled her breakthrough as a star in her own right.
Over the next few years, then, Johansson skyrocketed to superstardom. Often switching between indie and Hollywood productions, the versatile actress won acclaim for films such as Her and Lucy, released in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Meanwhile, she also became a major player in the successful Marvel Cinematic Universe as the awesome Black Widow.
But it wasn’t just her acting ability that fans found appealing. Long considered a big-screen siren, Johansson has been called the sexiest woman alive by publications including Esquire and Playboy. And the actress’ enviable sense of style ensures that practically all eyes are on her during public appearances.
And as is routine for many Hollywood stars, Johansson became an object of obsession for lots of fans. As a result, then, the actress’ private life was intensely scrutinized by the press. Her marriages to Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and journalist Romain Dauriac, in particular, generated a host of tabloid headlines.
But Johansson has had to learn the hard way that celebrity obsession can also be dangerous. In 2011 the actress was the victim of a hacking attack that resulted in personal photographs being leaked online. “It was so devastating,” she told radio show host Howard Stern in 2017. “It’s such a degrading and awful thing to have to go through that.”
But while the star received mass support in this case, Johansson has also experienced the negative side of public opinion. Most notably, the screen idol’s 2014 decision to endorse SodaStream – a product controversially produced in a West Bank-based factory – led to a far-reaching backlash from aid organization Oxfam.
Yet Johansson was unwilling to stray from her ideals and bow down to popular opinion. “I stand behind that decision,” she revealed to The Observer in 2014. “I was literally plunged into a conversation that’s way grander and larger than this one particular issue.”
Perhaps unlike some of her showbiz contemporaries, then, Johansson doesn’t seem to be afraid of challenging prevalent viewpoints. Though having experienced both the ups and downs of fame, the star has continued to adopt an unashamedly unapologetic approach to public relations. And it was this attitude that was gloriously on display at the May 2018 Met Gala in New York City.
Held to raise money for the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the annual Met Gala has offered Hollywood’s finest the chance to show off their best haute couture for decades. And with fashionistas Amal Clooney, Rihanna and Donatella Versace serving as co-chairs, 2018’s event was no exception. Yet it was Johansson’s outfit that received the most attention.
On the surface, Johansson’s choice of clothing doesn’t seem anything exceptional. With a flowing skirt and subtle floral patterns, the dress is, if anything, a little on the conservative side. But it wasn’t the frock itself that spectators responded to. Instead, it was the name on its tag that would make Johansson a cause célèbre.
Rather than wear a gown from a big fashion name such as Chanel or Versace, Johansson chose to don a dress by a smaller label for the red carpet: Marchesa. Founded in 2004 by Karen Craig and Georgina Chapman, the brand has received recent notoriety due to a particular association. Chapman’s estranged husband, you see, is disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
While Chapman is, of course, not responsible for Weinstein’s alleged crimes – which are said to include multiple cases of assault against women in Hollywood – her brand reportedly benefited from her husband’s coercive behavior. For instance, The Hollywood Reporter claimed in 2017 that Weinstein had pressured actresses such as Sienna Miller into wearing Marchesa.
As a result, Johansson – who has campaigned against sexual harassment in Hollywood – underwent a wave of criticism on social media. “Are you serious? Such a thoughtless, problematic person,” raged one Twitter follower. Others, meanwhile, accused the star of hypocrisy for supporting both Marchesa and the Weinstein-motivated Time’s Up movement.
But despite the surge of negative feedback, some supporters were quick to defend Johansson’s decision. In particular, journalist Scott Feinberg insisted that neither the brand nor its creator had had anything to do with Weinstein’s reported misdeeds. “Harvey’s ex-wife is not responsible [and] should not be punished for his actions,” he tweeted in May 2018.
While the help may have been appreciated, though, Johansson apparently didn’t need anyone to come to her defense. Indeed, in a statement released to E! News, the actress reaffirmed her faith in the fashion house. “It is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important designers,” she wrote.
Furthermore, though Johansson didn’t reference Weinstein directly in her press release, the actress seemed to imply that Chapman’s clothing should not be linked with his actions. “I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful,” she explained. And her words surely came as a blessing to a company that had fallen into disrepute.
Chapman, it seems, was grateful for the support, and in an adjoining statement her company revealed that it was “truly honored” to have Johansson’s patronage. “She is an amazingly talented actor who has incredible style and presence,” Marchesa commented. “It was wonderful to work so closely with her in creating this custom look.”
Then, in May 2018 Weinstein was arrested and charged with sexual misconduct. And Johansson once again reminded others not to extend their judgment to Chapman. “To me, it seems inhumane to hold someone accountable for their partner’s actions,” she told The Jakarta Post in June of that year. It was a fitting rebuttal indeed from an actress determined to be herself.