Can Reese Witherspoon and other #AskHerMore celebs still accept free gowns?

Story highlights

  • Reese Witherspoon was among the actresses at the Oscars who called for red carpet interviewers to #AskHerMore
  • While red carpet fashion is a big draw for awards, women in Hollywood say they want to talk about more than their gowns
  • However, in many cases stars are paid to wear and promote the designer dresses. Can they do both?

(CNN)Stylists, a fashion commentator and a luxury-brand exec are speaking out about a movement that sneers at Hollywood's implicit deal: gratis gowns in exchange for money or mentions.

Not surprisingly, fashion designers providing free couture dresses don't exactly feel the same way. "Because it has now become a thing where people spend months and make five dresses for them," Tom Ford has said. "If you wear one of those dresses and a company has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars or has paid you, then yeah, you say who it is." In other words, ladies who look like a million bucks (and have been paid that much or more from deals with brands like Dior or Chanel) can't expect not to be asked about what they're wearing.
    Notes Hollywood stylist Cristina Ehrlich of awards-season red carpets: "These women in many cases are being paid a great deal of money to wear these dresses. It's serious business. Is this the venue to get into baby seals or Save the Whales? I'm not sure it fits." One vice president of a major European fashion house asks: "If you asked these actresses straight out, 'Which is more important to you, the money you're paid to wear these dresses or talking about issues?' They'd take the money any time, believe me."
    Stylist Karla Welch suggests a two-pronged response: "How about ask her both? Feminism and turning it out on the carpet shouldn't be mutually exclusive. There needed to be a backlash to mani-cams and, to be honest, there could be some better journalism from fashion experts." Outgoing Fashion Police host Kathy Griffin agrees: "Any actress can choose to steer the conversation. The worst [media] can do is nervously cut to commercial. I support any movement that gives women increased power from where their only recourse was just to wear Spanx and smile. Men, however, should be asked exclusively about their penis size."
    What do you think celebs should do?