Kristen Stewart always looks so awkward on the red carpet, doesn’t she? Couture gowns and Kristen go together like nails down a chalkboard. In anything other than jeans and a t-shirt the actress looks utterly self-conscious. So uncomfortable that it makes you feel uncomfortable just observing her uncomfortableness.
Recently, something has changed and she of the dirty checked shirt, unwashed hair and sneakers suddenly looks like a brunette Charlize Theron. Sexy, sophisticated, glamorous… adjectives I thought I’d never use when describing Stewart’s sense of style.
Exhibit A, the red carpet tour for Breaking Dawn Part 2: Kristen has worn floor length gowns, make-up, even high-heels. She bared her spectacular bottom through gold lace in New York, her back in a sequined black jumpsuit in London and acres of Diaz-style leg in neon yellow in Madrid.
Stewart’s stylist Tara Swennen credits the transformation to the actress’ coming-of-age, telling The Cut: “She’s embraced doing the long-gown thing, so it was definitely an opportunity for me to stick as many as I could on her. Through the years, she’s come into her own - she’s grown into being more comfortable on the red carpet; she’s definitely embracing elegance and gracefulness. Obviously I’ve been able to push more on her, but I think her confidence level is really the thing that’s changed the most over the years.”
I think there’s more to it than that.
Stewart has just been through a very public trial as the ‘woman who cheated on Rob Pattinson (her boyfriend) and broke up a family (she had an affair with father of two, Rupert Sanders)’. This is breakdown material for any woman let alone a 22-year-old. A scarlet letter was quickly pinned to her chest and Stewart has played Hester Prynne beautifully and dutifully. After retreating and repenting for months, I feel she’s now using her wardrobe to tell the world she’s had enough, and like a modern day Hawthorne heroine, she’s a phoenix rising.
Twelve months ago, the rug was ripped out from under one of my friends’ feet. She cheated on her husband. Multiple times. He found out via an email she sent him instead of HIM. Her world exploded in the worst possible way. The fall-out was brutal and absolute. She lost her marriage, many friendships and became a shell of her former self in the process. For months she only got out of bed to go to work and walk her dog. She wore no make-up, her oldest, clothes and wore her hair scraped back in the same ponytail. She was literally drowning in shame. It was only when she signed papers to give him full custody of their Labrador that she drew a line and started the journey back to herself.
Within a few weeks she was a very different woman. Like Stewart, she re-emerged from her chrysalis of guilt dressed like a bombshell. There was a new inner confidence that said: “I’ve done my time” and a wardrobe that echoed the sentiment.
I’ve written about break-ups before and how rejection is one of the strongest human motivators for reinvention. Surely the need for redemption is equally strong? And that clothes are just as powerful on the flip-side of heartache.
I can’t help but think that if Prynne had lived in Hollywood rather than Puritan America, she would have walked a similar path to Stewart. Bouncing back as only a woman shamed knows how – one fabulous outfit at a time.