Thandie Newton’s Star Wars dress made an important statement at the Cannes Solo premiere

At the Solo: A Star Wars Story Cannes Film Festival premiere Tuesday, the press was predictably eyeing the looks of those walking the red carpet. Out of all the stunning outfits on display, it was actress Thandie Newton who stole the spotlight. Newton plays Val in Solo and is the first black woman to have a leading role in the franchise. She appeared in a custom Vivienne Westwood dress that was not only a beautiful design, but featured a stunning Star Wars print that was sending a message beyond just celebrating the franchise.

Her dress displays and pays homage to the other black characters in major Star Wars film roles: Finn (John Boyega), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), and Captain Panaka (Hugh Quarshie). These characters and actors left an important impact on the franchise, but the fact that the series’s black starring actors fit on the dress and are all men says something about how far the franchise still has to go in terms of diversity. The ability to finally add Val to the above character list is both exciting and a reminder of how long it took to get here.

The print was even more personal to Newton in that it wasn’t just showing images of the characters. They’re actually action figures from her own collection that were photographed by Christian Högstedt. This was then layered on Westwood’s absence of roses print for the final look.

The dress is also significant as a part of Eco-Age’s Green Carpet Challenge. Not only is it making a statement about diversity, but also sustainability. According to Newton’s stylist Erin Walsh, the dress was “hand-crafted in Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic ‘peau de soie’ silk” from Taroni and “embellished with Swarovski upcycled crystals.”

From the characters to the personal collection to the eco-friendliness, everything combined in this dress sends a powerful multi-layered message that mattered to Newton. The actress told Vogue that the dress is “a statement that comes from my heart and soul.”

The dress is a perfect example of how powerful geek fashion can be and the difference fashion can make. It can send a message not only with its print, but with its construction as well. Hopefully we’ll see more dresses like this on red carpets at future Star Wars premieres and other major events.

You can see more images of Newton’s dress in the slideshow below.

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