‘The Bear’ star’s style evolution mirrors her rise in Hollywood, and that’s worth celebrating.
Fashion *officially* has a new darling, and it’s The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri. The Boston-born actress and comedian has been gracing — and slaying — red carpets since she first broke out in 2022, donning whimsical ’fits with playful patterns and cheeky embellishments from designers like Emilia Wickstead. Any designer would be lucky to dress her, but it’s Ayo Edebiri’s style choices of late that are especially worth talking about.
Taking 2024 awards season by storm for her work as chef Sydney Adamu, Edebiri has been walking the red carpet in powerful monochromatic looks from fashion houses and brands like Louis Vuitton(below), Prada, Proenza Schouler, and The Row. A departure from her previous looks, Edebiri’s recent looks have been channeling more Jackie O (literally) than Alice in Wonderland, with many of her outfits seemingly referencing or paying homage to strong women in history, like Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Whoopi Goldberg.
And we should be paying attention. Edebiri’s style change is no mistake, with her shift to strong, tonal looks coinciding with — and indicative of — her rise in power in Hollywood and on the silver screen. That’s a big deal.
To be clear, Edebiri has been a sartorial standout since she first began gracing red carpets on the regular in 2022. She favoured designers and looks that were arguably more youthful and adventurous, like a schoolgirl chic Thom Browne ensemble and a Cinderella-esque Rosie Assoulin (those gloves!) at the 2023 Golden Globes.
In many ways, these fun, fantastical looks were in line with her public persona at the time; appropriate for a quirky, mid-twenties comedic ingenue who started in improv. Of course, she was having fun with fashion through volume and decorative bows (see: the Giambattista Valli gown below) which should be celebrated. Edebiri wore the heck out of these looks, and wearing attention-grabbing outfits as a way to help herself stand out as a new kid on the block made sense.
Since then, Edebiri has shown that she’s here to stay, establishing herself as a coveted talent in the industry, breaking out in the second season of FX’s The Bear, popping up as a can’t-be-missed guest star on shows like Abbott Elementary and Black Mirror, and racking up a host of comedic roles in both big budget and indie films like Theatre Camp, Bottoms, and The Sweet East. She’s holding her own against fellow rising stars like Quinta Brunson and Jacob Elordi, and creating a name for herself outside the series — and identity — that first introduced her to the world.
In addition to her acting roles, Edebiri is also an accomplished writer, having worked on shows like Big Mouth, Dickinson, and What We Do In The Shadows. She’s a player in Hollywood, beloved by industry vets (not to mention the entire country of Ireland), and she’s clearly embracing it, as she should be — and that extends to how she portrays herself through her style.
Now, Edebiri has settled into her red carpet style, letting her work do the talking instead of her outfits, and looking to designers that are just as much of a household name as she is becoming. Since the Fall of 2023, Edebiri has been leaning on confident, sophisticated looks that compliment, but don’t overwhelm her, allowing the actress herself to truly shine in minimal strapless sheaths, solid (but fun!) colours, and structure.
For New York-based content creator and fashion analyst Tariro Makoni, after several breadcrumbs of fashion change, it was Edebiri’s buttercream Proenza Schouler dress (above) with accessories from Sophie Buhai at the 2024 Governors Awards that signalled an unmistakeable shift in the actor’s style. With both brands as fixtures of the “downtown NYC (minimalist) cool girl,” Makoni says, “I started anticipating that she was officially heading in a new direction. The look and glam just felt so intentional.”
And as people online, including Makoni, have pointed out, this shift in style aligns with Edebiri coming into her power in the industry.
“We get to see this simulation into power as this young Black woman ascending within Hollywood,” Makoni said in a January 15 TikTok video. Which is of course, worth noting, because as Makoni tells FASHION: “We are constantly signalling through our taste, which includes what we wear. The aggregation of your past experiences, your exposure, your interests, and your identity is subconsciously and consciously leveraged in constructing what we like and what we wear.” And often, dictates just how people will view and judge us and vice versa. “That makes fashion an invaluable currency in our ability to subliminally communicate our relationship to power and status,” Makoni says.
TL;DR: What we choose to put on our bodies says a lot more about us than just what colour we like.
And she’s right. From the American suffragette movement in the 1920s, which utilized a colour scheme of white, purple, and green as symbols of dignity, loyalty, and hope and conservative fashion in the name of resistance, to the donning of pinky rings throughout history as a status symbol for men (an accessory that has recently been reclaimed by women and women of colour), fashion has been — and remained — an indicator of one’s access and proximity to social and political power.
In addition to more pared down silhouettes, some of Edebiri’s more recent looks have included subtle nods to iconic women of the past. In an early January appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Edebiri showed up to the set in a chic trench coat and patterned scarf, perhaps an homage to Jackie O. And walking the red carpet at the Critics Choice Awards shortly after, Edebiri’s all-white The Row pantsuit gave First Wives Club realness and was reportedly an ode to none other than Whoopi Goldberg.
Whether or not Edebiri and her stylist Danielle Goldberg, who also styles fellow recent red carpet standout Greta Lee, are consciously thinking of this or just playing around with the star’s fashion as many It girls are prone to do, the impact of this sartorial shift can’t be overlooked. In essence, Edebiri is taking up space; both figuratively and literally, with her 3-D leather Louis Vuitton look at the recent Emmys Awards — with its structured and voluminous boning in the skirt – leaving a physical footprint. She’s asserting herself as a major player in Hollywood, and most importantly, someone who deserves to be there, and, like Jackie O, Whoopi and the ladies of The First Wives Club, she too has staying power.
This is an especially important message given the fact that Edebiri is a young Black woman in a still predominantly white industry, and one that has been historically non-inclusive of women generally, but especially women of colour, who are still underrepresented in Hollywood — and even less represented when it comes to awards season.
Which is exactly why we need more actresses like Edebiri unabashedly taking up space and asserting their talent and power, and what makes her fashion evolution all the more exciting — and worth rooting for.