By Bonnie Nipar | December 2, 2020
RAD Arianne Phillips
Although she achieved personal success beyond her wildest dreams as a Costume Designer, triple Academy Award nominee Arianne Phillips was feeling unfulfilled. It started after the 2016 election. She took a step back from the hustle and goals of her career to take a look at her life and realized she wanted and needed to give back. “Working alongside Madonna for over 20 years, watching her quiet philanthropy in Malawi, really informed me,” says Phillips. She tried joining a few charities and nonprofits, but found that her schedule didn’t allow her to get past orientation. “I was either getting on a plane, working 12-hour days, or working on weekends.Giving back was something that was really missing for me.”
Phillips first met luxury marketing veteran Carineh Martin in the late 90s when Martin started the VIP division of Prada and they remained friends. They often explored the idea of creating something together. “Carineh is a wonderful person and a creative genius,” discloses Phillips. “We have different strengths that are very complementary to each other.” The duo brainstormed through a couple of intense weekends, making lists of ideas, ultimately deciding neither one of them wanted to create a product. What they did have in common was their desire to give back. They agreed they could use their collective expertise, networks, and relationships for social progress. They chose the red carpet as their vehicle because it was a platform with a commanding voice on social media since celebrities reach the largest audience. Adding advocacy to illuminate their mission of creating conscientious communities, their idea became RAD (Red Carpet Advocacy). RAD changed the conversation on the red carpet from “Who are you wearing?” which promotes product, to “Why are you wearing?” advocating a cause that’s meaningful to both the talent and the brand being worn.
RAD launched last year at the 2019 Golden Globes with Elisabeth Moss, nominated for The Handmaid’s Tale. “What we do at RAD is put the campaign together,” explains Phillips. “We approach like-minded people who want to do good in the world and make a difference. We connect talent + brand + nonprofit for a mindfully creative event. For example: Once Elisabeth chose to advocate for the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], the nonprofit human rights organization, we contacted all the brands Beth was wearing on the red carpet, asking if they would stand with her in support of ACLU. Everyone was given a social media kit with hashtags for all involved. Behemoth brands Christian Dior, Neil Lane, Roger Vivier, and Tamara Mellon, all with huge social media following, as well as Beth’s vanity team of stylist, hair, and makeup, and the ACLU. That multi-layered messaging tells more fans how they can get involved and volunteer or donate.”
The first year, all RAD’s partnerships were with people Elisabeth Moss at the 2019 Golden Globes for the ACLU in direct relationships to the co-founders. Actress Margaret Qualley hosted the screening for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with luxury jewelry brand Piaget. Together, they chose to advocate for the Motion Picture Television Fund, a direct reflection of the film’s storyline. On the night following the film’s premiere, RAD partnered with Margot Robbie and Levi’s to host a special dinner with the purpose to benefit Youngcare. By coincidence, Martin’s best friend from college is Elizabeth Banks, a big supporter, who wanted to make a statement about sustainability at the 2020 Emmys. RAD, Badgley Mischka, and New Standard Institute made that happen. Once the word got out that RAD could make your social media blow up, brands started to seek them out.
Even a world-wide pandemic did not slow RAD down.Phillips says, “The first week of April, legendary portrait photographer Mark Seliger, who I’ve worked with over the years, called us saying, ‘Hey, I really want to do something to help.’ He’s based in New York, and New York is shut down. We worked every day putting together the idea of an auction for COVID Relief. It was very ambitious, but RADArt4Aid was our most exciting event yet.” Perusing his archive, Seliger and Phillips curated 26 portraits, then reached out to Christie’s, who became their auction partner. RAD contacted everyone from Brad Pitt to Billie Eilish, Oprah to former President Obama, for permission to sell the portraits to benefit COVID-19, simultaneously inviting them to join the cause to raise money. Each participant chose a charity that has a COVID relief initiative, ending up with 19 different relief charities—everything from World Health Organization and World Food Kitchen, to smaller nonprofits like Support and Feed. Each photo had its own mini-campaign. Working 24/7, RAD extended the auction through July 27, and was thrilled to raise $250,000, distributed equally to the charities.
Embracing another momentous opportunity for the entertainment and fashion communities to come together for good, RAD at the Emmys Campaign partnered with former First Lady Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote. Looks worn at the Emmys just 45 days before the election were auctioned on Chic-Relief.com creating social impact to get out and vote.
Over the last year and a half, RAD has launched 27 campaigns seen on the red carpet, at events, movie screenings, and retail media conversations. RAD makes an impressive commitment to educate, inspire, and activate people to get involved with social progress for good and generate impact for nonprofits. 100% of all money they raise is donated to the charity.
“I encourage everyone to do something outside of ourselves. It’s super gratifying,” says Phillips. “So if anybody out there wants to be RAD, we’ve yet to do something with Costume Designers. I do think there are so many opportunities that we could do together collectively or on individual projects, infusing purpose for good, whether it’s a product or something we develop as a byproduct of our work as Costume Designers.”