The Byzantine luxury-turf war that is the red carpet came alive last night for the Emmys!
Sometimes, a clear trend rules the red carpet, and everyone shows in shimmering beige and you have to sort them out based on a Martha Stewart paint chips with names like Tawny Lint. Not so this time! This was a year of so many trends that nobody knew quite what to do, except some people who looked amazing, and some other people who accepted bad advice by stylists who were probably secretly paid out by enemy factions.
One of those people put Michelle Dockery in this dress:
Even though it had been wadded up in their trunk for a week first.
But we’ll get there. First, some sartorial delight!
Look of the night goes to Lucy Liu, who said, “You know, tonight I would like to look like a fucking fabulous armored robot in a dress that echoes my bone structure.” Mission accomplished.
Tina Fey, who can sometimes look exactly the way you might look if four people came into a hotel room and girdled you and yanked your hair around and forcibly got some slap on you and wedged you into a skintight dress and teetering heels and shoved you down a red carpet in front of two hundred cameras shouting, “NOW LOOK NATURAL!” But despite this dress being very constructed, the lines are clean, and it is GORGEOUS.
Her plum dress, in fact, was part of the general trend of the past few years to wear saturated color on the red carpet. That certainly helps me, since I can put away my paint chips. Let’s see how it works for those who wore it!
ROY G. BIV Division
Mayim Bialik. I am a fan of the evening sleeve, though I understand that in the secret language of the red carpet it can mean Cast Me as a Mom Only From Now On Please, and are therefore to be approached with caution by those in play. However, I think this dress stepped right out of a Ginger Rogers number, in the best way, and looks lovely.
Kat Dennings, who could have used two more fittings on this bodice to make sure it was supporting her correctly, because even though the fit elsewhere is good, and the color is great for her, no one should wear a dress that holds your breathing hostage like this.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in a dress that exists, and is fine.
Anna Gunn, in a dress that exists, and that someone should have left alone from about the knee down.
Padma Lakshmi, in a dress that might be considered persimmon, but is actually a new color that she invented.
Julianne Moore, in a dress I would have loved even more with one or two gores out of the skirt, only because that sort of fullness usually indicates an incipient musical number involving spinning. Love the color, though (which was a little brighter/more saturated than this picture).
Allison Williams, desperately hoping no one’s looking at her hem, because her current fame level is enough to get a designer loan, but not enough to allow for alterations in the dress, so she’s stuck with an extra six inches on the bottom that she had to casually kick in front of her whenever she walked anywhere, all last night.
Kirenan Shipka, who always manages to look age-appropriate and stylish as hell at the same time.
If there is a shade of mint that can be considered elegant, she’s found it.
Sofia Vergara, who was not about to make the Kat Dennings mistake and added a safety strap.
Archie Panjabi, in a lovely color and silhouette that is unfortunately rendered in satin, which is no one’s friend in the presence of flash cameras. (We’ll get there.)
Hayden Panetierre, in a dress that, despite looking vaguely like Versailles upholstery with a tulle overlay they ran out of time for, is still the best she’s ever dressed.
Kelly Osbourne. Love it. “Go Matchy or Go Home” is a fashion concept that can often go wrong, but this happens to be a successful take.
Zooey Deschanel, whose forced winsomeness is veering quickly into Hostage Eyes territory.
Michelle Dockery, in a mistake.
Here’s the thing about satin on the red carpet: not only is it the world’s most wrinkly fabric, but it is the sworn enemy of the flash camera. In the picture that leads off this entry, despite how unbelievably wrinkled it is, her dress is a beautiful, deep indigo that sets off her skin and makes for an elegant sheer. Then the flash cameras got her, and it looks like a sea of vaguely-lavender wonky seams and weird underbelt pleats and places that look both strained and too big, and I just don’t understand it. I’m glad ot hae found the top photo, though, because at least there I can understand a group of professionals looking at it and thinking, “Yeah, maybe.”
Of course, for some, nothing beats a neutral.
Little Black/White Dress Division
Lena Headey, you guys. I can’t decide which I like better – the idea that she was watching runway outfits until she could find the witch-nightowniest one there was, or the idea that a stylist brought in a rack of dresses and put this one in as a joke and they pulled it out and she went “DONE.” Either way, she loves it, I love it, and whoever gave her that “Fine, you know what, that’s the dress I have to work with, then just, okay, whatever,” ponytail probably doesn’t love it but that’s because they suck.
Julia Ormond. Whatever Hollywood penalty box she was in, I’m glad she’s back. This is another really nice evening sleeve, and since she’s one of those operating under the Supporting Actress Articles rather than Leading Lady Rules, she doesn’t have to do anything more than look elegant and pretty, both of which she has accomplished handily.
Jessica Pare, meanwhile, is leveraging her exposure like rent is due, because she is not a very good actress but she knows she can work a face of makeup and a dress, and she is reminding casting directors of this fact PRONTO.
Michelle Fairley, looking lovely!
Edie Falco, who said, “I want to go modern!” and went so modern she looks like a 2D paper doll with a wedding ring on.
January Jones. You know, if she could act like she dresses, we’d have no problems. That dress is amazing, and somehow avoids all the Glenn Close problems we’re going to get to in just a second.
Christina Hendricks, in a Tawny Lint gown that I would still really like, except she has both a waist cascade and a trench coat belt, and I feel like those are details of which you must choose only one.
Amy Poehler, who is getting divorced but wants to remind everyone is also still hot.
Morena Baccarin, in a dress that makes me wonder if Christina Hendricks is the only woman in Hollywood who supports her breasts at all.
Glenn Close, who I always say can do as she pleases. And she still can, except this time she did something that is straight-up dreadful on what I can only assume is a dare.
Melissa McCarthy, in a Monet. The silhouette is great, but the different lace overlays don’t work, and while I like the petal-y shoulder treatment, it is just too much on the hem.
Martha Plimpton, of the Rowdy AppliquÃ© Saloon, most sarcastic Madam in the West!
There are some people so devoted to one another that there were no photos of them alone. That makes them Those Couples, and that means one thing: DINNER PARTY.
The Dinner-Party Division
Steve Buscemi and Jo Andres, that couple you love, where you always start to say “You look so great, where did you get that?” until you get to her hem.
Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt, that perfectly-dressed couple you’d love to hate except they invited you to celebrate that photo shoot of their rescue Pit Bull in their reclaimed-wood solar house for Dog Fancy and you might as well just go.
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, that’s always talking about how happy they are until it sort of creeps you out, and looks like they’ve been sprayed with the stuff you put on prop food.
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, the funniest couple at the party, even if Portia is always wearing something weirdly close to the color of her skin and you’re never sure why.
Now things start to slide a little downhill, Let’s start with a bad idea that has less to do with ugly dresses and more with a terrible concept, and rip off this Band-Aid of a bad idea.
That Leg Thing Was Dead as Even Before Angelina Jolie Did It Division:
Maria Menounos, who exists.
Jena Malone, who looks confused about what the Hunger Games publicity people are telling her to do.
Heidi Klum, who is furious that anyone showed more leg than her, ever, for any reason.
Alexandra Breckenridge, who seems to know the game she’s playing. That doesn’t make it okay to play, Alexandra!
Though maybe Alexandra was just flashing a gam because she was hoping to stay out of this division.
The Oh Gosh, No Thanks Division
Emily VanCamp, whose cat got into her dress just before press time, leaving just enough tulle to staple to her bits and hope for the best.
Anna Chlumsky, who had just enough satin to make the train look heavy and weird, and none left over for the dress, necessitating front swags.
Zosia Mamet, who is not ready for a dress that needs to be worn as hard as this dress needs to be worn. (Even in the hands of a pro, though, I am not sure about everything south of the knee.)
Lena Dunham. Your dress is bad, and you should feel bad.
The Sequins Or Bust Division:
Kerry Washington. I really think this dress is gorgeous – straight-up ’30s silhouette with sequins just big enough to look modern – but wish either the hair or the lip color had been slightly different. It’s a nitpick, though, for a really beautiful dress.
Christine “MY hair and makeup are flawless, thanks, oh, and also my legs, have you seen my legs lately, because they are as lithe and youthful as a fawn’s, HAVE YOU SEEN THEM okay great thanks goodnight” Baranski, who is absolutely correct about all of that.
Connie Britton, whose dress is to remind you she has a show this year about Nashville and glitz, please watch her Nashville show, also no one look at her hair, goodnight.
And, last but not least, a free-for-all in which some people couldn’t stay away from pattern and embellishment, and how that worked out for them.
The Try Not to Look Like My Grandma’s Couch This is Your Only Job Division
Elisabeth Moss, what did I JUST SAY in my Division title.
Julianna Marguiles, in a dress with a lovely color palette, and a pattern like the Before picture in an armchair refurb.
Sarah Paulson, having done a better job than her predecessors, in a very nice dress that looks only marginally as if it’s being attacked by barnacles, and in a very classic way!
Emilia Clarke, looking fresh and romantic in the rare pannier-over-miniskirt dress that would ever get my approval.
And last but not least, Ginnifer Goodwin, habitually unable to leave the house looking good, giving us I Dare You eyes. And yet, no one is more surprised than I am how great this dress looks, even with the treatment reaching almost Seussian levels of 3D, and the orange belt that doesn’t quite go. I love the idea, I love the colors, and I will even forgive the hemline because if I had those shoes I would want everyone to look at them, too. Success!
These dresses and more can be seen at the Yahoo! red-carpet slideshow.