Phew, it seems like forever since I’ve had a nice, juicy red carpet event to cover! I watched the beginning of the Golden Globes live this year but had to switch over to Downton Abbey halfway through, then missed the end of the awards dealing with a sick child, so I apologize in advance if I missed any of the favorite fashions that appeared later in the evening.
There were several themes to the couture on the red carpet: one-shoulder; neutral colors; red; and cleavage, cleavage, cleavage. I’ll take each of those categories separately, and then throw in a “miscellaneous” category just for fun. (Note: several gowns qualified in multiple categories, but I chose a single category for each one.)
Amy Adams, Jane Fonda, Heidi Klum, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Allison Tolman all opted for single-shouldered gowns. I loved that each style was so different! Adams’ gown draped softly over her shoulder with a scarf trailing behind; Fonda’s gown had one see-through sleeve spangled with rhinestones; Klum’s pulled straight over her shoulder, contrasting with the soft curve of the sweetheart bodice; Louis-Dreyfus’ was simple and classic, and Tolman’s gathered sheer fabric that gracefully echoed her full ballgown. Each gown was effective and flattering, and not overshadowed by too many accessories or overdone hair or makeup (although Heidi Klum could have gone a bit lighter on the spray tan).
If I had to pick a single winner in this category, I’d have to go with Heidi Klum, for the beautiful long lines and interesting contrast of straight and curved lines. But Allison Tolman gets a close second, for classic elegance and choosing a perfect style to set off an atypical (but stunning) Hollywood figure.
The main neutrals this year were black and white, with a few silver gowns thrown in for good measure.
Felicity Huffman went for simple but stunning in a perfectly-tailored, round-necked white cocktail dress with cutouts running the length of each side – subtle modesty panels kept it in good taste, and the dress skimmed her figure instead of clinching it, an all-too-common misstep on the red carpet. Beautifully done. Less beautifully done was Keira Knightley’s…whatever it was she was wearing. I understand that it’s not easy to find a flattering (and comfortable) maternity gown, but that’s no excuse for the hot mess she had on. The giant ruffled collar, the giant ruffles at the hem, the giant butterfly on her right hand…let’s just chalk it up to pregnancy brain and move on, shall we?
Melissa McCarthy’s dress has me completely torn. On one hand, I love that her outfit is more fitted and less tent-like than she often wears, and I love the ruffled, tiered skirt. I even love the draped bow at the neck. But on the other hand, the schoolmarm blouse complete with long tight cuffs and large lapels gives off too much of an old Miss Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie vibe. She does make a lovely schoolmarm, at least.
Gina Rodriguez’s lovely black sheath was a perfect choice for her figure and her coloring. Simple and figure-hugging to the knees, then flaring out in transparent ruffles, it put the focus on the wearer rather than the dress, unlike Amanda Peet and Kristin Wiig, who were both overshadowed by their dresses. Both done in a baggy, bohemian style, with bloused sleeves and bodice and a soft flared skirt, they seemed droopy and overly casual for a red carpet event. Not awful, just not terribly flattering or fashion-forward. Emma Stone, on the other hand, was definitely fashion-forward in black satin pants, a metallic beaded top, a long, train-like bow and sash, and mile-high stilettos. Fabulous! Another particularly fashionable – and slightly different – gown was sported by John Legend’s date, Christine Teigen (I apologize if she’s famous in her own right; I have no idea who she is). Her softly draped, art deco-inspired gown accentuated her curves without being revealing, and the puddling at the hem continued to soften and sweeten the lines.
And finally, we have two examples of how to and how not to do a silver gown. Julianne Moore’s gown started off well with a smooth sequined silver halter top, but went south as it went south, darkening to black (not a problem) and transitioning from spangles to feathers (problem). Reese Witherspoon showed us how it should be done with a strapless, figure-hugging silver column with a narrow belt and a tiny train. Paired with simple sideswept hair and a diamond cuff, her look was classic and elegant.
This isn’t an easy category to choose a single winner, but I just really adored Emma Stone’s avant garde outfit, so I’m awarding her the win. First runner-up goes to Felicity Huffman for rocking such a simple look.
Christine Baranski wore a deeper red, but candy apple red was the order of the day for Viola Davis, Lena Dunham, Julianna Marguiles, Helen Mirren, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, although each style was unique. Baranski’s sleeveless column featured cutouts at the neckline, Davis’ strapless trumpet was accented with spangles along the bodice, Dunham’s shiny satin featured geometric accent seams, Marguiles sported a strapless tea-length dress with a stiff “stomacher”-style panel in front, Mirren’s long-sleeved column flared at the knee and was accented with black and silver spangles along the neck, and Zeta-Jones’ ballgown featured a strapless bodice with draping at the side.
The least successful of the reds was (surprise, surprise) Lena Dunham. The concept was terrific; the execution was not. She may not have a typical Hollywood figure, but that’s no excuse for this ill-fitting gown. The angular seams could have worked well to flatter her figure, but the dress needed to skim instead of bagging. I also found Marguiles’ dress to be overly stiff and uncomfortable-looking, and the hem length seemed out of place and unflattering. My favorite reds were Davis and Mirren, with the win going to Mirren by just a hair, because, well, look at that photo. She owns that red carpet.
Cleavage, Cleavage, Cleavage
There was plenty of skin on display on the red carpet, most of it on chests. The broad, deep V was the preferred cleavage-baring neckline, sported by Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lopez (well, duh), Sienna Miller, Jessica Chastain, and Claire Danes, with Katherine Heigl and Rosamund Pike showing off their cleavage in different styles.
Hudson’s cleavage-baring halter was accented with v-shaped cutouts along her ribs emphasizing her curves. Lopez paired her down-to-there neckline with an up-to-there slit in the front of her gown, her cleavage marred by an awkward spot that appeared to be a broken or badly-placed underwire, and a slightly too-narrow modesty panel that changed the shape of the V, not for the better. Miller’s rather shapeless gown had a deep V trimmed with black detailing and a raised-front hem. Chastain, in metallic black, stuck with her tried-and-true, hourglass-flattering, plunging V-neck, gathered-to-the-navel halter style. Danes’ deep and broad V was covered with a black modesty panel and edged with gypsy print matching her bohemian skirt. Heigl opted to show skin with a broad and deep squared-off structured bodice and a skin-tight mermaid skirt. And Pike’s barely-there top seemed to be held together with a few tiny ribbons and hope.
The less successful of the cleavage dresses were Miller’s poorly fitted dress, Danes’ boho mess, and Pike’s droopy cutaway. The most successful were Hudson’s well-structured va-va-voom look and Heigl’s mermaid. Hudson edges out the win over Heigl, simply because Heigl’s broad neckline broadens her shoulders just a hair too much.
A few gowns that didn’t fit into any of the above categories caught my eye as worthy of mention, for good or for ill. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who continually treads the fine line between “hot” and “hot mess,” fell just barely over the line into “hot mess” territory with this badly-fitting gown. The concept is lovely, the color is terrific on her, but the bodice is too low and does not fall in the same place as her breasts, and the skirt has fallen victim to the dreaded “sitting crease.” Anna Kendrick also treads that fine line between successful and disaster in a frothy blush pink dress with cascading burgundy polka dots and a thin burgundy belt. It’s a bit of a fairy-tale look, but it works considering her recent performance in “Into the Woods,” so I’m calling this one a success.
Jessica Lange was also a success in her bright pink sheath with narrow pointed lapels, tiny cap sleeves, narrow black belt, and small train. It’s age-appropriate and figure-flattering, eye-catching without being over the top. Lupita N’yongo was slightly over the top in a bright purple and white gown with a flower-covered bodice and flared chiffon skirt. The flowery top was a bit reminiscent of an old-fashioned bathing cap, but N’yongo pulled it off with confidence and style in a way few could.
Kerry Washington’s purple gown was a bit less of a success, with overly stiff fabric and contrasting side panels that didn’t quite fall as smoothly as they should have. The neckline and bodice were lovely, though. And another gown that just missed the mark was Naomi Watts’ sunshine yellow gown which, while a lovely color and cut in a flattering style, did not work with her blond coloring. But extra bonus points for the gorgeous and whimsical diamond snake necklace.
On the whole, it was a fun night for fashion, with lots of hits, just enough misses to be fun, and a few risk-takers falling on both sides of the line. See you on the next red carpet!