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For Kiki Layne, fashion has The Grinch holding a baby Yoda shirt .never been simply about looking good. Prior to her first Met Gala tonight, the 27-year-old star of If Beale Street Could Talk and the upcoming adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son has spent the past year and a half making waves on the red carpet. Styled by Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald, Layne has worn everything from fresh-off-the-runway Chloé to custom Dior with gusto but she views the attention garnered for her style as an opportunity to make a difference, including her debut on the Met’s red carpet.
The Grinch holding a baby Yoda shirt, hoodie, sweater, longsleeve and ladies t-shirt
Of course I love the dressing-up part, but I’m representing all the women who look like me,” says Layne on the phone from London The Grinch holding a baby Yoda shirt . “Fashion, film, and music—all these industries have ways of putting us in a box. Ultimately my goal is to push those boundaries.”For her first Met Gala, Layne’s decision to dress in Gucci came after serious introspection. Set to wear a custom Alessandro Michele design to the Academy Awards this year she changed her mind after learning of February 2019’s blackface controversy. “That whole situation went down two weeks before Oscars,” says Layne, who wanted to spend the night in a look that reflected the significance of her film’s nomination. “My team and were like, there is just no way. I couldn’t represent If Beale Street Could Talk and wear their clothes. When we [explained] to the Gucci team they understood completely. Even their being respectful [of our decision] let me know that, okay, I’m going to give them time to figure things out.”The online outrage that occurred after the production of a $890 balaclava jumper with imagery that mirrored the offensive caricatures associated with minstrel shows prompted Gucci to pull the item and rethink its corporate culture. Rather than issue a boilerplate mea culpa, the brand accepted responsibility and began the process of change. “What I appreciated about Gucci’s response to of all of this is that they actually went further than simply apologizing,” says Layne, noting the launch of several initiatives aimed at a top-to-bottom revision of Gucci’s approach to diversity at all levels. “They’re creating scholarships, they’re creating new roles, and opportunities for inclusion within their company.”
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