On Monday evening New York time, Scarlett Johannson arrived at one of the most-anticipated events on the fashion calendar, draped in a billowing magenta gown with floral appliqués snaking their way down her back.
It was the first time she had walked a red carpet with partner Colin Jost, but it wasn’t her relationship or her private life making headlines. It was the politics of the gown she had chosen that engulfed the news cycle surrounding New York’s Met Gala.
The gown, of course, was designed by Marchesa, owned by Harvey Weinstein’s estranged wife Georgina Chapman and her long-time friend Keren Craig.
It was the first time the brand had dressed anyone on a red carpet since the New York Times published their history-making exposé into Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct and, in truth, the first time Chapman had made headlines since she announced she was leaving him.
But while the comeback was painted as quiet, an aura of no big deal shrouding it, Chapman’s return to industry was certainly no happy accident. Instead, the return of Marchesa was meticulous and perhaps not even possible without the legend of Anna Wintour driving it. After all, one only has to look at how the next few days were carefully played to see the genius.
In the hours after Johansson stepped onto the red carpet, she released a statement:
“I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful and it is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important female designers.”
Soon after came Marchesa’s own:
“We are truly honored that Scarlett chose to wear Marchesa for the Met Gala. She is an amazingly talented actor who has incredible style and presence. It was wonderful to work so closely with her in creating this custom look.”
And then Anna Wintour entered the fray, making deliberate reference to Marchesa's return during a visit to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She is, we should note, an old friend of Chapman.
“I totally agree with that,” Wintour said of Johansson's statement. “Georgina is a brilliant designer and I don’t think she should be blamed for her husband’s behaviour.
“I think it was a great gesture of support on Scarlett’s part to wear a dress like that, a beautiful dress like that, on such a public occasion,” she added.
Considering the Met Gala is like Wintour's second child - an event she plans with scrupulous attention to detail - it's hard to see a world where Wintour didn't know of Johansson's decision to wear that ethereal dress. In fact, it's hard to see a world where Wintour didn't specifically ask that of her.
And then, just like clockwork, on the Thursday following the Met Gala, Vogue published the ultimate comeback profile - a puff piece of sorts - of Georgina Chapman, the first of its kind since Weinstein's fall. If there was any doubt about its deliberate and sympathetic portrayal of the wife of Weinstein, then perhaps this impassioned editor's letter from Wintour herself fills any of the gaps.
"I am firmly convinced that Georgina had no idea about her husband’s behaviour; blaming her for any of it, as too many have in our gladiatorial digital age, is wrong," she wrote. "I believe that one should not hold a person responsible for the actions of his or her partner. What Georgina should be receiving is our compassion and understanding."
And if Wintour asks for compassion and understanding, that's probably what the world will give.