Sure, you see some big-screen leading ladies every year at the Emmys — especially now that TV is more de rigueur than romantic comedies. But even the sight of radiant Claire Danes, or Nicole Kidman at last year’s show, doesn’t draw the European fashion houses like ants to a picnic. The bottom line is this: Movie stars are global personalities; TV actresses get mobbed Stateside. When it comes to award shows, the Emmys provide a chance for American designers who don’t go by one name to shine.
This year, we saw a strong showing from LA native Monique Lhuillier — on Anna Farris in a canary yellow chiffon dress that clashed a bit with her complexion and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ rose gold strapless column dress. Tina Fey looked electric in a body-con cobalt blue halter gown that Narcisco Rodriguez made specifically for her. In fact, a few lucky ladies got A-list treatment with custom-made gowns. Newcomer Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black) wore a dress designed for her by Thakoon — no small feat for a great actress who wouldn’t get recognized in Orange County.
It was wicked fun to see January Jones act all nonchalant about her one-off dusty rose Givenchy confection: “They made it for me,” she said without an ounce of glee when Ryan Seacrest asked her why she chose that particular dress. The color didn’t wow on the red carpet.
Some of the actresses who didn’t get handmade frocks plundered the Resort 2014 collections, which showed in June in New York. Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka wore a colorful though slightly distracting Delpozo dress while Zosia Mamet of Girls selected a mixed-media organza gown by Honor. The black leather bustier felt more like an “edgy girl” accessory than an organic piece of the dress, but it definitely strayed miles from the wardrobe of her less-than-alternative character. Elisabeth Moss gleaned her black-and-white strapless Andrew Gn gown from his resort line too.
Blue was the new red. Or at least, it popped on the carpet. Allison Williams — who looks to me like she grew up with a stable of horses and a closetful of preppy Polo cable knits — opted for Ralph Lauren’s simple, clean take on a debutante’s ball gown in cobalt blue. Edie Falco went with a bright blue Escada, while Jessica Pare wore a vibrant turquoise Oscar de la Renta
gown with pockets taken from the designer’s Spring 2014 collection. And then, there was Lena. The multi-hyphenated pixie picked a teal Prada festooned with red roses. The dress itself was stunning, but the bodice gapped around Dunham’s midriff and that caused the overblown silhouette to look blowsy. It’s a shame because a few nips and tucks would have made yards of difference.
I have always thought of the Emmys as an opportunity for small-screen talent to act like glamorous movie stars. (For fun, take a peek on WireImage at Joan Collins and Linda Evans at the 1986 Emmys. They both dressed in over-the-top gold lame that screamed, “Cast me, damn it!”) For many female TV stars relegated to playing frazzled housewives or dragon caretakers, the Emmy red carpet could be a launching pad to major film work. Look at Jennifer Aniston, who wore the hell out of a gorgeous Chanel column gown in 2004 and never ever looked back.
Best dressed? Sarah Paulson in red Carolina Herrera, Rose Byrne in Calvin Klein Collection, Kerry Washington in Marchesa and Linda Cardellini in Donna Karan Atelier. Worst? Vera Farmiga in Calvin Klein and Dunham in Prada.
Who Wore What
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Rose gold strapless column gown by Monique Lhuillier.
Kiernan Shipka: Delpozo cap-sleeve dress with organza overlay ball skirt and embroidered bodice. (FYI: Pre-order it at ModaOperandi.com for $5,200.
Lena Dunham: Teal organza Prada gown with four-carats diamond stud earrings by Neil Lane.
January Jones: Custom muted rose strapless Givenchy with lace bodice and eyelet overlay.
Sofia Vergara: Vera Wang red fitted gown with plunging V-veck and mermaid tail; a 40-carats Columbian emerald ring by Lorraine Schwartz.
Kerry Washington: Frothy white Marchesa gown with floral appliques and tulle train.
Allison Williams: Ralph Lauren cobalt blue A-line gown with Roger Vivier heels and Fred Leighton jewels.
Zooey Deschanel: Metallic J. Mendel column gown with Chanel ring.
Elisabeth Moss: Silk flower embroidered black and white strapless Andrew Gn gown.
Claire Danes: Armani Prive nude flared gown with tulle bodice and crinoline lace skirt.
Mindy Kaling: Plum Georges Chakra gown with jeweled neckline.
Tina Fey: Custom royal blue body-con Narcisco Rodriguez halter gown with Fred Leighton jewels.
Taylor Schilling: Custom white and cream color-block column gown by Thakoon with Stuart Weitzman gold sandals.
Aubrey Plaza: Long sleeve black Marios Schwab gown with platinum and diamond knuckle ring, fleur-de-lis ring and diamond drop earrings.
Connie Britton: Blue velvet strapless Naeem Khan dress with gold embroidered bodice.
Zosia Mamet: Honor floral gown with black leather overlay bustier.
Christina Hendricks: Old Hollywood-style black fitted gown with lace cap sleeves by Christian Siriano.
Jessica Pare: Turquoise blue strapless Oscar de le Renta gown with sculpted bodice detail and pockets.
Michelle Dockery: Ruby red halter with pleated Bordeaux ball skirt by Prada and 1920s platinum-diamond pinkie ring from Fred Leighton.