One can’t help but feel a little thrilled about the kickoff of awards season. After all, the Emmys took place way back on September 18, and half a year’s worth of new dresses—between Spring/Summer and Pre-Fall 2012—have walked down runways since then, making Sunday night’s inaugural red-carpet event of the year, the 69th annual Golden Globes, a veritable parade of heretofore-unexamined style choices among Hollywood’s A-list.

If there was a theme Sunday night, it was one of diversity. Sure, blue was a hot color, as was every possible incarnation of bisque, ivory and nude. Many women also embraced mermaid shapes (Sofia Vergara in Vera Wang, Reese Witherspoon and Elle Macpherson in Zac Posen, among them). But part of the fun of dissecting red-carpet attire is rooted in the semiotics of fashion—that is, what a particular gown communicates about that particular woman. With such a thought in mind, we spotlight 10 women who, each in her own unique way, spoke a beautiful language on the Globes red carpet.

10. Rooney Mara

With last month’s debut of her breakout role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mara all of a sudden is on everyone’s radar, as well as a wide array of red carpets. It’s hard to believe this is the same girl who played Jesse Eisenberg’s ex-girlfriend in The Social Network, as her current off-camera persona—seriously pale skin mixed with severe, jet-black hair—seems miles removed from the pretty but ordinary look she sported in her first outing with director David Fincher. Perhaps Mara’s a true chameleon, allowing her current role to influence off-screen as well (and as we know, Lisbeth Salander is far from ordinary). The result has been some truly intellectual red-carpet decisions since Dragon’s December premiere, from Pierre Hardy and Miu Miu to Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton, each of which seems to illustrate her love of sleek and edgy. Mara’s choice for Sunday night’s Golden Globes was no exception: a black silk-faille gown from Nina Ricci’s Pre-Fall 2012 collection, supremely modern and plunging in front and at the sides, with any thoughts of a wardrobe malfunction assuaged by the strategic placing of bow-ribbon detailing.

My only complaint about Mara’s Globes look is that she wore not one piece of jewelry; she has on other red carpets, so it isn’t that she’s generally averse to the idea. A jewelry designer like Eddie Borgo, for example, is red-carpet friendly while also boasting both a fashion-forward aesthetic and a healthy hip quotient. But that’s nitpicking. Mara has all the makings of a style star, and it will be interesting to see how this chameleon continues to evolve.

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