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The friendship bracelet and the Time's Up dress code

The friendship bracelet. Three strands of brightly coloured thread plaited together with feverish fingers and tied onto a best friend's wrist. There it remains, slowly fraying, coated in equal parts sticky food residue and love.

A small, childish token of insignificant value which speaks a thousand words of comradeship, dedication and shared experience – dipped into sand pits, spaghetti hoops and Matey bubble baths. Taking into itself the laughs, tears and grazed knees of a child's friendship. Powerful as a talisman.

Then we have the BAFTAs. Yet another glittering awards ceremony with an all-black dress code. Actresses from film and television donning black gowns to stand together in support of the UK's Time's Up campaign – a rousing cry to end sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

This is becoming an all too familiar sight perhaps, following on as it does from the Golden Globes and the Grammy Awards, where the red carpet was equally awash with rustling black taffeta and Time's Up pins worn on dinner jacket lapels.

The question is whether the message is being diluted. That if we keep seeing the same regurgitated costumes trotted out before us, they will start to lose their impact. Some have argued dressing all in black has little to so with stamping out sexual abuse in the first place. That it is a frivolous move on the part of an A-list elite to seem to be taking action. That wearing a designated garment has very little teeth.

Anyone who has worn a friendship bracelet will know this is underestimating the power of a piece of clothing. No, the black dresses will not eradicate sexual harassment on their own but they are the symbol of a bigger movement which is steadily growing in momentum.

Some 200 UK and Irish actresses, including Emma Thompson, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly, have added their signature to an open letter to The Observer newspaper defining what lies within the folds and ruffles of their black dresses. A call for the BAFTAs to act as a starting point to unity and solidarity for anyone wanting to call Time's Up on sexual harassment, not just in this country but internationally.

An extract from the letter reads: “In the very near past, we lived in a world where sexual harassment was an uncomfortable joke; an unavoidable awkward part of being a girl or a woman...Join us in shifting the dial. Let's make 2018 the year that time was up on sexual harassment and abuse. This is your movement too.”

Whilst actress and strident feminist Emma Watson has already donated £1million to the UK Justice and Equality Fund, which has been set up with the support of all the actresses who have signed the open letter, along with 160 academics, activists and charity workers. The Times Up campaign is starting to bare its teeth.

The Isabel Marant gold-tone bead and shell bracelet is a grown up friendship token. Hold the tiny shell to your ear and hear it echo with female voices from around the world declaring 'this is just the start'.

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