Michelle Yeoh’s answer to the sheer, metallic, and impossibly slinky dresses delighting paps on red carpets so far? Lilac suiting. A shorts suit, in fact. In lieu of hopping on the trend bus, the Everything Everywhere All at Once actor has been pedaling her own cycle of original outfits, which have looked nothing less than refreshing as the awards season juggernaut gathers pace. That pastel tailoring was just the first stop.
The 60-year-old star has proven her versatility in the eveningwear category by mixing and matching designers, silhouettes, textures and colors with one failsafe accessory to anchor them all: that signature knowing smile that says she’s confident going her own way in an industry that fosters a herd mentality. No fashion stunt is too daring for Yeoh, who rose to fame as the match-fit martial arts partner of Jackie Chan in Hong Kong action films, and went on to woo Hollywood in Tomorrow Never Dies. From surrealist crop-topped Schiaparelli confections and sequined Armani Privé peplum numbers, to delightful old-school couture salon-esque looks by Carolina Herrera, her USP this season has been Old Hollywood glamour mixed with a dash of the unexpected. No one, for example, saw that spring tailoring care of Off-White coming, but it was a total tonic when it did. Ditto her take on the white shirt courtesy of Erdem.
With the Academy Awards just around the corner and Yeoh an insider’s favorite to take home the top prize, we’d like to see added drama. Give us bigger ruffles – another constant in Michelle’s playful wardrobe – a major archive moment that young whippersnappers couldn’t conceive of, and an emerging designer look from the industry’s diverse pool of talent (Yeoh called out Hollywood’s racism in her Golden Globes acceptance speech). While we’re at it, someone give Michelle a campaign already!
Also commendable? Yeoh joins the likes of her co-star Jamie Lee Curtis – who turned her viral reaction to Michelle’s Globes win into a T-shirt – in recruiting stylists who aren’t celebrities in their own right (think: Kate Young and Karla Welch whose work dominates the red carpets at this time of year). Jordan Johnson Chung, who also dresses Sandra Oh, is behind Yeoh’s experimental-chic awards season turns, but you won’t catch the creative waxing lyrical about the looks via Instagram. Rather, Johnson Chung simply credits her collaborators and lets the fashion speak for itself. Yeoh, too, is all polite thank yous – even when posting her Time “Icon of the Year” cover. There’s not a whiff of diva about her as she gets ever closer to grasping that golden statuette, and putting the world to rights in the process.
Everything Everywhere might have been a brilliantly absurdist adventure, but Yeoh’s message is clear: Tinseltown needs to change or, as she quipped to the Globes pianist who tried to cut short her acceptance speech: “I can beat you up, okay? And that’s serious.” We’re seriously Team Yeoh this season.