Best Conversation Starter:
Julianne Moore in Dior Haute Couture
No look lit up Twitter last night quite like Julianne Moore’s silk cashmere top and evening skirt from Raf Simons’ fall/winter haute-couture collection for Christian Dior. Of course that can be taken in the literal sense—amid a sea of eye-popping yellows, Moore’s easily seemed the brightest—but also in the avalanche of diverse opinions it elicited (if Twitter has taught us anything, it’s that anonymity breeds brutal honesty). Personally I loved this look: I thought it unexpected and not even a little bit safe, especially the color choice for a redhead with pale skin. I was also longing for a look at the inside of that high-waisted skirt, which appeared to be constructed with corset-like boning underneath.
Best Va-Va Voom:
Heidi Klum in Alexandre Vauthier
Pre-show commentary speculated that, post-Seal, Klum would be turning up the heat on the red carpet, and she didn’t disappoint. Her seafoam chiffon gown by Paris-based Alexandre Vauthier put the idea of goddess on steroids, with its plunging neckline and slit-up-to-there sexiness. Everything worked for this look: The fit, the perfect dose of sex appeal, and especially the color, which beamed against her blonde hair and tan skin, the latter offering just the right amount of subtle shimmer. Klum also sported the night’s most talked-about jewelry, a pair of black opal, natural pink diamond, and paraiba drop earrings by Lorraine Schwartz, valued at more than $750,000. Nothing about this look is timid, which could be precisely what Klum intended.
Best Sleek Style:
Jessica Pare in Jason Wu
She plays the fashion plate on Mad Men—indeed, her increasingly Mod Megan seems to be the show’s ode to Polly Maggoo—so one might expect Pare, a former model, to make a really thoughtful fashion choice. How great that she opted for chic minimalism in the form of this one-shoulder gown by Jason Wu, offset with beauty that was all about old-Hollywood glam: The red lip, the lined eye, the low chignon. Pare also wisely kept the jewelry simple, her 16.55-carat diamond earrings from Bulgari’s high-jewelry collection were equally simple and dazzling. A 15-carat emerald ring (also Bulgari) was the only splash of color.
Julie Bowen in Monique Lhuillier
Three to four fittings can be required for red carpet dresses (woe to the actress who can’t narrow it down to one dress until the day of the event), but the results always pay off. Case in point: Julie Bowen, who just looked amazing in this lime-green silk-faille trumpet gown from Monique Lhuillier’s resort 2013 collection. As she moved about the evening (including while picking up her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Emmy), Bowen also looked divinely comfortable—from the strapless neckline to her whittled-in waist to the length of that trumpet skirt, she never looked like she had to fuss with it. Emmy aside, that’s a winning combination.
Best Color Adventuress:
Padma Lakshmi in Monique Lhuillier
So many actresses took chances with color on the Emmys red carpet—perhaps they’ve long envied someone like Padma Lakshmi, whose gorgeous skin allows her to wear just about any bold hue and look utterly brilliant. Last night was no exception: Lakshmi arrived on the red carpet early in this vibrant orange strapless Spanish-tulle trumpet gown from Monique Lhuillier’s resort 2013 collection and set the tone, so to speak, for a sartorially exciting Emmys.
Julianna Margulies in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture
Turning up on an awards show red carpet in anything other than a solid color is always a dicey proposition—the conventional wisdom is that if you’re not sure how a print is going to read on television, you shouldn’t chance it. Margulies defied convention in more ways than one. This pale green floral brocade gown from Giambattista Valli’s fall/winter 2012 haute couture collection is sublime in print and silhouette. I love that Margulies made use of the pockets, an always-chic touch in a ballgown. Margulies also busted one pre-show commentator’s myth that “TV actresses” aren’t able to acquire haute couture for red carpets. Pairing this elegant gown with 19th century Fred Leighton jewels, Margulies made a bold, thoughtful choice and gets my award as the night’s all-around best dressed.
Emily VanCamp in J. Mendel
Chiffon and tulle made for plenty of ethereal statements at last night’s Emmys, but a clear favorite among them was this look from J. Mendel for Revenge actress Emily VanCamp. The dove grey tulle gown was both graceful and sophisticated, and close-ups showed exquisite handpleating on the bustier-style bodice. VanCamp’s diamond bow bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels added just the right touch of sweet to a look that was subtly sensational.
Best Impression of a Las Vegas Showgirl:
Sofia Vergara in Zuhair Murad
You have to hand it to Sofia Vergara: she knows what works on her body. By now Vergara is more than adept at channeling her curvaceous, glam-siren persona in her red carpet looks. True to form (no pun intended), her teal hand-beaded mermaid gown by Zuhair Murad was another take on an oft-tried idea. The combination of color and allover sequins pushed the look into over-the-top territory for me, though her body does look killer in the photographs. (On a side note, her zipper busted 20 minutes before the end of the show, a fact we discovered when Vergara tweeted a photo that stopped men’s hearts everywhere.) At the Golden Globes, I’d love to get her out of one of these mermaid gowns and into something a little more modern, a little less pageant. Vergara clearly loves fashion, so that’s an exciting prospect.
Best Gown If You’re Caught in a Fight:
Lucy Liu in Versace
We saw a few metallic looks on the red carpet—Connie Britton in Andrew Gn and Kerry Washington in Vivienne Westwood leap to mind—but Lucy Liu takes top honors for this Versace gown from Donatella’s fall/winter 2012 collection. Made of round chainmail links with a fitted metal bodice (and indeed, the fit was perfection), this was the gown that had you endlessly wondering, a.) Just how heavy is that? and b.) How is it staying up? (I’m guessing that armor-like bodice may stand up on its own.) Liu’s look was also statuesque, gleaming and decidedly architectural, and those are all good things for a major red carpet.
Best Working of a Current Trend:
Allison Williams in Oscar de la Renta
Judging from the spring/summer 2013 shows, peplums are here to stay for a while, which only adds to the relevance of this Oscar de la Renta gown on Allison Williams, of HBO’s Girls. From de la Renta’s resort 2013 collection, this evergreen silk-faille peplum gown hit all the right notes: wholly elegant, a perfect fit and color for her body, and equally timeless with a touch of in-the-stores trend. What more could you ask?
Best Updated Prom Queen:
Zooey Deschanel in Reem Acra
Today surely fashion commentators everywhere are using that oft-employed word when name-checking The New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel: adorkable. I think we should retire it, but she doesn’t make it easy, especially when she opts for red carpet looks that are either princess-like or vintage, and often a combination of the two. This custom Reem Acra gown was lovely, but a bit of a head-scratcher: The fit on the bodice seemed a little tight and pinching, while the color was a bit too Cinderella-esque. I did love the shredding of the asymmetrical tulle layers on the skirt, which definitely modernized the dress. Deschanel is another I’d love to bust out of her comfort zone. Hey, here’s a thought: what if she and Vergara switched dresses? It’s not an ideal swap, but still fun to consider, yes?
Best Dress You Never Saw:
Emilia Clarke in Chanel
So many factors go into agreeing to dress a celeb for a red carpet, especially by the A-list houses: The celeb’s persona, fashion and otherwise, their star quotient, whether they’re a good fit for that brand’s message and aesthetic, and also the heft and potential of the project he or she is promoting. I mention all of these things because Chanel does not loan lightly; when that label hits a red carpet, attention is paid. Such a shame, then, that Emilia Clarke, who ticks all the right boxes, was so little seen last night, largely because HBO’s much-nominated Game of Thrones went home empty-handed. She looked lovely and a bit otherworldly in this white dress with purple sequin embroidery from Chanel’s cruise 2013 collection, which was paired with sleek diamonds from Chanel Fine Jewelry. Even if Emmy voters snubbed GoT, we’re still going to give Clarke a shout-out for a choice that is equal parts romantic and modern.
Best Opportunity to Showcase Gorgeous Shoes:
Ginnifer Goodwin in Monique Lhuillier
We saw a few high-low looks on last night’s red carpet: Elisabeth Moss in Dolce & Gabbana, January Jones in resort 2013 Zac Posen, and Once Upon A Time’s Ginnifer Goodwin in this nude silk-gazar gown embellished with orange floral embroidery from Monique Lhuillier’s popular resort 2013 collection. (By our count, Lhuillier scored three gets at the Emmys, while J. Mendel took top red carpet honors with four placements: Emily VanCamp, Jena Malone, Jessica Lange, and Jennifer Westfeldt.) There are two advantages of the high-low dress: it’s less likely you’ll trip on your hem, and your fabulous shoes are afforded a beautiful frame for all to see. In Goodwin’s case, she opted for Christian Louboutin’s Unbout ankle-strap pumps in transparent PVC and Mandarin-red suede. The dress reads a tad busy in photographs, which only highlights the point that those illusion shoes are divine simplicity.
Best Laid-Back Sex Appeal:
Kevin Costner in Hugo Boss
Twitter launched into a bit of a frenzy when Kevin Costner captured his Emmy for Hatfields & McCoys, primarily over that eternal red carpet men’s conversation: The tie, or in Costner’s case, the lack thereof. He’s at the Emmys, shouldn’t he put on a tie?! was the general outcry. Well, according to Hugo Boss’ press release, a tie was included with Costner’s Boss Selection suit—whether it was left in the limo, we’ll never know. I’m going to defend the look, though. Take away the tie, but add the vest (a far more on-trend detail for a tux at the moment) and, with Costner’s bit of scruff in the form of a graying goatee, the open collar comes off as laid-back and a little sexy without trying too hard. Since that Bull Durham moment, have we ever thought of Kevin Costner as anything else?
Best Heavy Sigh:
Jon Hamm in Giorgio Armani
Jon Hamm in an ultra-classic two-button peak-lapel tux by Giorgio Armani in of-the-moment midnight blue. The fit is impeccable, and note the perfect amount of shirt cuff showing beneath the jacket. But you’re too busy staring at the photo, so I really don’t need to say anything else, I’m thinking?
Best Emmy Date:
Bill Hader in Donna Karan
If you’re to believe Twitter, or just about any TV comment board, Bill Hader is the undisputed all-star of and reason to watch Saturday Night Live—indeed, it’s telling that Hader’s nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (his first) is the only male acting nom the show has scored since Eddie Murphy last achieved the feat in 1983. Hader didn’t win (the Emmy went to Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet), but we loved seeing the ersatz Stefon on the Emmys red carpet, wearing a custom black notch-lapel tux by Donna Karan. He looked relaxed and comfortable, sporting a long tie amid a sea of bow ties. Ultimately, Hader may not possess the effortless sex appeal of Kevin Costner or the jaw-on-the-floor gravitas of Jon Hamm—but this is without question the look of an easygoing guy who, while negotiating a lengthy red carpet and a three-hour awards show, will keep you laughing all night long.
Best New Husband:
Alec Baldwin in Ermenegildo Zegna
At first I wondered about the purple tie and pocket square Alec Baldwin paired with his black peak-lapel tux by Ermenegildo Zegna; color can be a little dangerous in men’s red-carpet looks, as the line between “awards show” and “member of a highly chic wedding party” is all too precarious. And then it became clear that the 30 Rock star had actually matched his tie/pocket-square combo to the purple beaded dress worn by his wife, yoga instructor (and soon-to-be fitness show host) Hilaria Thomas. The couple is still very much in newlywed phase, having married on June 30th at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, so I’m giving Baldwin a pass on this one. Fashion can be a cynical business, but it doesn’t mean we’re not romantics.