Iranian Actress Wears Gown to 2023 Oscars Showing Solidarity With Iranian Protesters and ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ Movement
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo wore a floor-length gown to the 2023 Academy Awards on Sunday night that shared a message in support of anti-government protesters in Iran who are fighting for human rights.
The custom-made black and white sleeveless silk gown, by New York-based designer Christian Siriano, had a black silk-taffeta overskirt embroidered on one side with the words “Women, Life, Freedom,” which has become the unofficial slogan of protests in Iran that started after the September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Opposite the slogan on Aghdashloo’s overskirt were the names of Amini and two other Iranian women who were murdered in September 2022 for participating in the anti-government protests — Hajar Abbasi, 70, and Nika Shakarami, 16.
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The actress, who was nominated in 2004 for her supporting role in House of Sand and Fog, explained the gown in an Instagram post, saying it supports the three victims “who were among the first women whose lives ended far too early in the hope of freedom after 44 years of oppression and religious tyranny under the Islamic Republic.”
She said she wanted to collaborate with Siriano on a special dress for the 95th Academy Awards because the designer “has long championed women and marginalized communities, and has spoken up for causes he believes in, and has fought for what he believes is right.” She then thanked Siriano for his “creative vision and for lending your voice to support the people of Iran.”
Before the Oscars, Aghdashloo told The Hollywood Reporter that as soon as she received an invitation to attend the award show at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, she wanted to take advantage of the moment to draw attention to the protests and violence taking place in Iran. She told the publication, “I was so happy to be invited, but what crossed my mind is that this was a chance to take the case of the Iranian freedom fighters to the ultimate platform of arts and sciences.”
“I knew I wanted to wear something that would include the slogan of Iran’s freedom fighters — ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ — as they continue what’s one of the biggest human-rights efforts in history,” added the actress, who escaped Iran during the country’s 1978 revolution.
It was Siriano’s idea to include the names of Amini, Abbasi and Shakarami on the gown, which was also partially inspired by Audrey Hepburn, who Aghdashloo admires. Siriano explained that as he talked to Aghdashloo more and more about her vision for the dress, “I saw this as a way to start a conversation so the world would be more educated … because if it causes people to Google the names or the slogan to find out what they mean, then it will be a success.”