Dress or Mess?

Kerry, Lena, and Heidi: The Fashion Winners and Losers at the Emmys

Fashion watchers worried that the Emmys would be the Plain Jane next to the outrageous VMAs needn't have worried. For one, Lena Dunham came as an unemployed flamenco dancer.

Reuters & Getty

Reuters & Getty

Without any wine being flung, it was a game of reds and whites on the Emmys 2014 red carpet; siren reds and angelic whites at that. Those expecting a more muted, sensible collection of gowns after the drama and madness of the VMAs the previous evening were to be proven wrong. Actresses like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Julianna Margulies slinked down the red carpet in cleavage-accentuating, body-hugging dresses. Lena Dunham, in her self-appointed role of someone who does her own thing for the betterment of all women, went as an out-of-work flamenco dancer, which someone will write tomorrow somehow safeguards feminism and the freedom of sartorial expression for the next generation of girls and women. We say, even crusaders, tastemakers, and brave, battling feminists need stylists on big nights out. There were fitted tops worn with billowing gowns, Julie Bowen originated a wholly new look: the floral disco-drape, and Julia Roberts sprouted glittery boils in a flirty, peplum-ed short gown. If someone sees the real Allison Janney, tell her her evil twin supplanted her on the red carpet. But it was a night of bold colors, with Julianna Margulies showing that even black can glitter and prowl. And Sarah Silverman, fretting on E!, your boobs look fine. As for Laura Prepon, her dress has kidnapped her and is holding her for ransom. Seriously, her collar is an offensive weapon. And Laverne Cox, first openly transgender actress nominated for an Emmy, looked the most beautiful and goddess-like of all the white-clad goddess-styled actresses there. And Cox gave up ice cream to do it. I hope it's her night. 

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Taylor Schilling from "Orange Is The New Black" told E!'s Live From The Red Carpet that this was a dress of "non-color," but it's still pretty.

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Laverne Cox dresses like the TV goddess she has become this year in a custom-made gown. She's had to give up ice cream, she said, not that miserably. 

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Samira Wiley splashes some color and slink.

 

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Sarah Hyland from ABCs "Modern Family" keeps the red theme of the evening going, with a fairly boring white top, and then a killer dress

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Anna Chlumsky, in a boring-looking white dress that really isn't that boring on TV. She said it was great that it was just one zip, which many of us would panic-say when faced by the harridans of E! 

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The thigh-slit dresses didn't end at the VMAs. Anna Gunn arrives on the red carpet 

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Orange alert: Heidi Klum arrives at the Emmys, in a vibrantly colored dress by Zac Posen, with added flotation devices. She liked that it didn't crease in the limo. Know what you mean, darling.

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Laura Prepon of "Orange Is the New Black" arrives, after being dramatically freed from a top-secret fashion experiment, where actresses were held against their will, stitched into leather dresses of clashing colors, with ridiculous collars added that came undone and bit people. The actresses in the experiment were then forced to walk the red carpet. They never saw a mirror. The dresses told passing TV interviewers they were wearing their owners. Scary.

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Lena Dunham, you are not in Brooklyn any more. There is no excuse for looking like an out-of-work flamenco dancer. Irony is no excuse. Nothing is any excuse. But blonde hair, vg.

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Hayden Panettiere in a lovely Lorena Sarbu dress, fitted to her baby bump. Mucho gorgeous-o.

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Peter Dinklage shows tux-wearers how it's done, and with beard. Jon Hamm, sorry, you've been comprehensively out-hotted.

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There is everything pretty about Sarah Paulson's dress in theory, but then in person on the red carpet instead of a vision of dainty tulle, it looks like she has been assailed by a cloud of pesky insects. Someone grab the Raid!

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Debra Messing looks fab in an Angel Sanchez black, paneled dress, and is smiling as gracefully as one can after being insulted on live TV as she was on E!

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Kit Harington says not smiling is his thing, but he still looks jolly spiffing in a tux.

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Octavia Spencer does the fashion impossible and balances two warm-colored tones in this dreamy dress by Tadashi Shoji.

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Not that we wish to teach Lena Dunham anything—why would we, what do we know?—but, hello everyone wearing weird things that make no sense. Next year go to Carolina Herrera, and say, "Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the 2014 Emmys. Can you do something similar for me, because it was totes fabulous." 

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Julie Bowen aims to be channelling seventies disco, she told E!, but succeeds in channeling "soft furnishings."

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After Hayden Panetierre, a second baby bump on the red carpet. Where HP did slinky and beautiful, Amanda Peet goes down the floral route and looks equally, differently, excellent.

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OK, Allison Janney, we love you here at The Daily Beast, really love you quite a lot, but why don't you look like Allison Janney? Great strapless dress, though.

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Oh my goodness, Christina Hendricks looks beautiful in this Marchesa gown, with Indian-influenced detail and jewelery. 

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Ricky Gervais arrives with partner Jane Fallon, and proudly tells E! he is wearing "comfortable shoes" before going into great detail about tanning his beard disastrously.

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Lizzy Caplan from 'Masters of Sex'—find it, watch it, support it—in one of the evening's best gowns, that you didn't see properly on TV. It looked very simple and sculpted in black and that was that, but look, here revealed, at the flowing white train. And this pose—a ballerina at rest, almost—makes it the look (and photograph) of the 2014 red carpet.

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OK, Olivia Pope is a primetime goddess. OK, we love Kerry Washington, and she is a new mother, and looking beyond-great. OK. Enough OKs. This dress looks like an old cushion with its stuffing scattered about its front. And if you are going to wear a dress with a thigh slit, wear a dress with a thigh slit, and not with—however understandably positioned—an underskirt of some kind guaranteeing modesty protection. But, as we say, love Olivia, love Kerry etc etc. (Oh gaaadd. That dress. Why?!) 

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Sofia Vergara takes white, bodice-y Cavalli, adds her innate, vivacious vrrrroooom, and runs off to party the night away.

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January Jones is a good thing. She's tricky. She doesn't play the fame game predictably. And when explaining this lovely Prabal Gurung red dress on E! she didn't look that cheerful. Which makes it all the better. "I sometimes hit, I sometimes miss," she said of her red carpet fashion choices, with a (healthy, sane) shrug. Oh, JJ, this one's a hit. Not that you'd really care that much.

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Daily Beast opinion is split on this all-white effort, as worn by Kate Mara. Lots of white tonight—a rhyme!—and this, to me, looks like a bandaged disaster survivor with some Grecian god over-styling. Anyway, my two colleagues next to me love it. And we're doing this sober for some reason, so the disagreement, while intractable, is something we all need to move on from. 

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The best moment of E's red carpet show came when Sarah Silverman, who slinked and then some in this gray, fitted gown, looked as if she was chancing upon another species—well in a way...—when talking to Giuliana Rancic. The look of befuddlement she wore befitted the whole encounter, which revolved around Silverman worrying one boob was higher than another, then Rancic opening Silverman's clutch to discover something Silverman said was liquid dope. And just before something truly terrible happened, it was over. But golden for its moment's duration.  

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So, the things you learn. My colleague Marlow Stern has just informed our little, growingly hysterical group of the existence of the "Hamm-aconda": I never knew *it* had a name. Well, we've no idea if it's running free underneath this tux. We love Jon Hamm with beard, we love him without beard, and he and partner Jennifer Westfeldt look cute on the red carpet, even if she is looks a bit "chaise-longue-y."

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Actor Bryan Cranston, adorable with "Gomez" moustache with wife, actress Robin Dearden, in the last year "Breaking Bad" features at the Emmys—and just a few minutes before he smackeroo-ed Julia Louis-Dreyfus as she went up to collect her Emmy. 

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Deep breaths. Julia Roberts can make a bad dress zing. Lots of people love this dress, which to me looks like it's been encrusted with glittery boils, and the peplum and length look a bit skew-whiff. But the legs, the legs. And she's a big film star at a TV awards thing, which apparently tells us something profound about Hollywood's power axis of big and small screens these days. So, anyway, do not resist. Hail Julia!

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It's a game of reds and whites on the Emmys red carpet, and Claire Danes' Givenchy dress brilliantly balances delicacy and sensuousness. But why she is wearing a tangle of blinged-up Twizzlers around her neck is anyone's guess. 

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Slinky, cute, slinky, cute: let us spare a moment to feel all toasty next to the joint-hotness of Julianna Margulies and husband Keith Lieberthal.

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Oh my goodness, someone put Allison Williams in the mail as a gift, with a bow and everything, and she ended up on the red carpet. You ever tried to imagine what a complicated simple dress would look like, a dress with unnecessary fuss? You want to like it, but only a frown materializes—just as when you watch Marnie on "Girls."

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Kristen Wiig: just...fun. She must party in this raucously.

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AAA-MAZING. She just does things so Gwen-tastically—Gwen Stefani, in Versace. 

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A dash of winning, strapless, ruched, dramatic black from Lena Headey—a welcome final pre-main event palate cleanser after all those whites and reds...and out-of-work flamenco dancers.

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I think Michelle Dockery from "Downton Abbey" is going for a layered and regal "end of empire," cup of Darjeeling chic here. Are pins holding this together? Like the Empire, it could all fall embarrassingly apart.