Last Sunday night, the Hollywood elite showed off couture dresses and tuxedoes, diamonds, and all that goes into the most glitzy-glamorous night on the calendar. As usual, some of the dresses cost a fortune.
One of those dresses particularly caught my eye.* It’s a Chanel gown, worn by Julianne Moore. The dress is a strapless white gown with several pretty rows of green oval accents (Or dark blue. It’s hard to tell.), and it's covered—every inch—with sequins. That one gown took twenty-seven people 987 hours to make.
For a very few hours, that Chanel dress paraded over the red carpet—up and down it—and was photographed who knows how many times. It is, to be fair, a stunning dress, one of the prettier ones on Oscar night.
Imagine twenty-seven people sewing sequins on one dress! They say the green (or blue) sequins were hand tinted. Okay, so several of the twenty-seven were actually dying the sequins that dark color. The rest were gathering around the dress, sewing and sewing and sewing.
The dress took 987 hours to make. That’s 24.6 forty-hour work-weeks. If we were talking about one person working all those hours, it would be almost half a year’s work! On one dress, worn for a few hours.
Think about the expense behind this one dress—both in money and time.
Of course, it was only one of many dresses worn to the Oscars presentation, each representing someone’s brand of fashion genius.
What could be done with those same hours of work, applied to something more important than sequins? What do those sequins (and the pearls, and other special touches) say about our values as human beings, as a culture?
If the seamstresses were paid the U.S. federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour, their total pay would have been $7,155.75 for the one gown, divided by the twenty-seven people, according to their hours. (I sincerely hope they were paid much more than minimum wage!)
In many countries of the world, you can feed a person on less than $2 a day. That means, you can save a life for less than $2 a day. That dress's cost (only counting the minimum wage $7,155.75, not all the rest) could have fed 3,577 people for one day or 200 people for eighteen days.
In one country, one dress takes the equivalent of almost a half a year’s work to make. Someone paid twenty-seven fashion workers to make it. We don’t know the price of the gown, but it has to be very, very high. (Surely, the Chanel designer is well-paid, plus the materials and work.)
In other countries, thousands of children are malnourished, and so are their parents. Their average life expectancy is 40-50 years.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s morally wrong to have a little bit of glamor or that big occasions are never appropriate. I personally find anything Hollywood produces impossible to watch, but that's not what we're addressing here.**
But, maybe our society could show a little bit of compassion and help those who will die if we don’t. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way (Matthew 15:32).
Maybe we could hand-sew less sequins on one dress.
** My reason? 1 Corinthians 10:31, Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Does any Hollywood film glorify God? Philippians 4:8 also, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Does any Hollywood production keep it pure, lovely, and virtuous? These are my personal reasons for not watching any modern Hollywood films. We can still be friends if you differ with me.