Armani is one of the classic, longstanding design houses that makes appearances on every red carpet. At the Golden Globes this year, we saw Isabelle Huppert, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, and Teresa Palmer in Armani Prive. Each gown was unique, with few if any repeated details, silhouettes, or fabrics, and each was tailored to the body and personality of the wearer.
Huppert's long-sleeved, ice blue, jeweled bodice was lovely: encrusted with pale blue and white gems at the top and fading down to the waist with fewer gems and visible opaque fabric. But the skirt seemed heavy and mismatched with the light bodice, and needed an airier fabric to carry through Huppert's Gallic grace and elegance.
Monae's gown was an interesting concept that had a few missteps of execution. I loved the fitted black sequined bodice with its wide, curved boat neck, and I liked the whimsy of the puffy white skirt with large black polka dots, and the silver strappy sandals were gorgeous. But the skirt was oddly proportioned; a little too short in front, and narrowing a bit too far towards the back, which made the train appear to drag in a teardrop shape rather than becoming a "floating" train as it should have. Her jeweled updo and understated makeup, however, were sheer perfection.
Harris' tall gold column featured a narrow plunging sweetheart neckline that was beautifully structured and created a perfect smooth line that accented her slim figure and needed no further accessories beyond the textured fabric, long drop earrings, and softly waved hair.
Best of the Armani? Definitely Harris' gown, which called attention to the wearer rather than the gown.
Versace is another designer that has been appearing on red carpets for just about forever. Three celebrities wore Versace designs on the red carpet last night: Blake Lively, Naomi Campbell, and Reese Witherspoon. All three of these gowns were perfectly stunning, and perfectly suited to their wearers.
Best of the Versace? Lively gave her a run for the money, but I have to go with Campbell, simply because it was the one gown of the night that I wanted to keep looking at and studying for hours.
Although Siriano has less of a history than either of the designers listed above, his designs have been a red carpet staple for a respectable number of years. Last night, he designed for Angela Bassett, Issa Rae, Kelly Preston, and Rachel Bloom. (He also designed two different looks for Chrissy Metz, but she opted at the last minute to switch to a purple velvet gown by Nathan Paul. I saw her modeling Siriano's designs and she should have gone with his turquoise Grecian-inspired gown. It was lovely on her.)
Bassett's bright pink flared column had an interesting shoulder-baring neckline with a long double-ruffle on each side and a short train. It was simple, but the color was perfect against her skin tone and her flippy, slightly puffed hair pulled attention up to her face. Basic, but very well done.
Rae's pure white gown was just a bit stark against her dark skin, and might have benefitted from just a hint of soft color somewhere. The high collar and plain long sleeves were somewhat prim, although the skirt had a lovely line and puddled into a graceful soft train. I felt like this was a wonderful base dress that just needed a bit more sparkle to bring it to life. I did love Rae's braided coronet of hair over her forehead and lovely, understated makeup.
Preston's gown had a very "Southern tea party" feel for me. I liked the angular aspect of the tiered ruffles that pulled it away from being too girlish, as did the sponge-painted look of the black-on-white print. The tiny black belt was a nice accent, as were the cap sleeves. Her waved hair looked rather limp and was too much of an echo of the skirt's ruffles, and the black and white color palette cried out for a bit more brightness in her makeup (a bright red or coral lip would have been fabulous), but overall it was a soft and graceful, if a bit too understated, look.
Best of the Christian Siriano? I wouldn't say that any of these were a hands down hit-it-out-of-the-park, but in terms of a gown which perfectly suited and flattered its wearer, I have to go with Bloom, simply because my first thought on seeing her was, "I would be so happy to look like that."
Dolce & Gabbana
D&G is another established red carpet designer, but one which also designs for accessible fashions for you and I. Probably no-one reading this blog has a Versace or Prada gown in your closet, but you might have something by Dolce & Gabbana. So their pieces are often a bit less haute couture than some. Last night, Karrueche Tran and Kerry Washington both wore D&G.
My favorite detail of Tran's ruched column was the way the deep pink fabric flared at the knee and puddled into a ruffle-edged train. She looked like a fairy coming up out of an upside-down orchid. It was just such a lovely silhouette. The deep color and figure-hugging fabric suited her perfectly, and I loved that she paired it with fingers full of sparkly rings and a tall, tight chignon that called attention to her gorgeous (and beaming) face. She looked so happy to be wearing that gown, and with good reason.
Best of the Dolce & Gabbana? With the commentary above, do you even have to ask? Look at the wearers' expressions in these two photos, and you'll know that they know the answer, too: Tran.
Edition by George Chakra
I was completely unfamiliar with this designer, but based on these two gowns I'd like to see some more of his work. These two have a lot of similarities of silhouette, but it's hard to say if that's because the designer is uncreative or merely because it's a style that works for both Felicity Huffman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Huffman's gown had a straight white skirt with a small train at the back (I think), and the bodice was gold lame with a plunging neckline pulled into a matching gold sash. The silhouette was very simple but worked with her figure. It was nothing particularly special or memorable, but she did look lovely.
Best of Georges Chakra? Both gowns were simple and lovely, but I'll remember Louis-Dreyfus' a lot longer than Huffman's.
Gucci is often a bit more avant garde than other designers, and last night was no exception, although I wouldn't exactly say that the two gowns worn by Felicity Jones and Zoe Saldana were particularly successful.
I loved the skirt of Jones' pink and black gown - frothy chiffon cascaded down into elegant black lace detailing at the full hem - but the bodice had droopy ruffles that looked matronly and for some reason the fabric was a slightly paler color than the skirt, which made the whole look seem mismatched.
Best of the Gucci: Saldana's gown could have been a win with a different (or no) belt, so I have to give the win to her.
Jenny Packham is apparently primarily a bridal designer (I had never heard of her, but this is what Google tells me), but if she's branching out into red carpet wear, I heartily applaud. She dressed Gillian Anderson, Kristen Bell, and Millie Bobby Brown last night.
Anderson's white halter gown carried shades of "bridal designer" based on the white color and stiff, netting-lined skirt, but otherwise it was a very appropriate and pretty look. I liked the long keyhole slit coming down from the jeweled neckband, and the flare of the skirt created a nicely balanced silhouette . I loved Anderson's dark blond updo, diamond cuff, and long narrow brown clutch. The look was elegant and glamorous.
I don't love Bell's look, but I have to admit that it's been growing on me, and I think that with a slightly narrower front opening or a jeweled see-through panel I'd love it. The silhouette is stunning, and I love the way the skirt drapes softly. I love the simplicity of the cut that allows the sparkle of the fabric to be the star. And I adore the one chandelier earring peeping out from the not-quite-Veronica-Lake hairstyle. I just can't get past that her breasts are apparently taped going in opposite directions. It just looks horribly uncomfortable. And cold.
Best of the Jenny Packham: Brown, because she made an 11-year-old look glamorous but still like an 11-year-old. Nicely done.
J. Mendel is a designer that I'm not that familiar with, but it's a name that's popping up here and there on red carpets, so it's worth checking out. J. Mendel designed two extremely different looks for actresses on the red carpet last night, Heidi Klum and Keri Russell.
Best J. Mendel? Well, since you can put nearly anything on Heidi Klum and have it look like a million bucks, even a simple cocktail dress, I'm going with Klum.
I think of Vuitton designs as being relatively conservative and almost "buttoned-up," and that is certainly true of Michelle Williams' and Ruth Negga's Vuitton Globes gowns, and even Sophie Turner's haute couture gown is more conservative than many other designers' couture lines.
Best of the the Louis Vuittons? Negga's gown might not be the best objectively, but when looking at how well each gown worked with the woman wearing it, it's Negga all the way.
Kors is another designer who dresses both celebrities and "real women" (this "real woman" has a Michael Kors dress in her closet, as a matter of fact), and tends to have more conservative red carpet looks, which is certainly an apt description of both Sienna Miller and Viola Davis' Kors gowns last night.
Miller's white gown was simple; the fabric had no pattern or texture, the bodice had a simple round neckline and cap sleeves, the skirt was a basic A-line. The only eye-catching detail was the deep cutouts at the waist which called attention to Miller's toned abs. She accessorized with a single strand of pearls and matching pearl bracelets, a black clutch, pulled-back hair, and minimal makeup. It wasn't a bad look, but it felt much too toned-down for the red carpet. But with those abs, I wouldn't tell her that.
Best of Kors? Davis for the win.
Prada makes me think of really high-end, avante garde haute couture, but of late they seem to be providing a good number of more toned-down red carpet gowns. Last night, Prada dressed both Jessica Chastain and an expectant Natalie Portman.
I liked Chastain's gown very much, with the exception of one detail: the shoulder straps were placed so far apart that a) they looked like they were slipping off her shoulders, and b) her shoulders looked like a linebacker's, a fact not helped by her slicked-back hairdo that made her head look tiny in comparison. The blue color and column style were perfect for her, and the embroidered and beaded pink flowers along the left side of the dress were a gorgeous and unusual detail, so if the straps had just been pulled in an inch or so on each side, and perhaps her hair been worn down in waves like so many others, it would have been one of the best looks of the night.
Best of Prada? Even though Chastain was slightly off the mark, her look could have been fixed with a few minor details, while Portman's needed a complete overhaul. Chastain for the win.
I've always loved Vera Wang's looks, on and off the red carpet, so it's not surprisingly that another of my most favorite looks of the night was a Vera Wang design. Hailee Steinfeld and Sarah Jessica Parker both wore Vera Wang last night.
The first thing anyone noticed about Steinfeld's gown was the gorgeous color. It was a beautiful lilac, and seemed to be the same fabric throughout, but because of the different design techniques and layers of fabric, the dress seemed to be different shades, from light to dark. A diamond-trimmed round neck dropped to a see-through bodice with gathered corset-style panels topped with a small ruffle over each breast, and see-through gauntlet sleeves revealed bare shoulders. The full gauzy skirt trailed into a long, graceful train. The whole gown had a gauzy, fairy-tale feel to it, which seems right for a red carpet gown on a relatively young actress. Steinfeld looked beautiful and ethereal.
Marad is a Lebanese designer (I had to Google him, too) who debuted his designs on the runway in Paris in 2001. His looks have been gracing red carpets from the American Music Awards to the Academy Awards since 2013. He dressed no less than five celebrities for the 2017 Golden Globes: Elsa Pataky, Lily Collins, Olivia Culpo, Sophia Vergara, and Tracee Ellis Ross. This is definitely a designer to keep an eye on!
Collins' traditional ballgown was a bit frothy, but not in a bad way. The full skirt was reined in by a lace band before falling into a deep ruffle, and the bodice was slim and fitted to avoid too much volume. The soft color was just enough deeper than her skin tone to keep from fading away, and her dark curly updo and vivid pink lips kept the focus on the woman rather than the dress. This was a terrific modern take on a traditional style.
Culpo's ethnic-inspired gown was exactly the over-the-top-but-not-completely-crazy look that I love to see on the red carpet. The print fabric looked like it was pulled out of a Monet painting, with vivid colors on a black background, and the lines of the full A-line skirt were echoed by the criss-cross straps making up the bodice. Culpo was fully covered and supported, but showed enough skin to be very sexy. Her smooth updo with a few trailing curls added to the ethnic feel, and her strong posture allowed her to carry off a voluminous dress that could easily overwhelm its wearer.
Best of Zuhair Marad? With five completely different looks, worn on five very different body types by five very different women, and not a clunker in the bunch, I'd have to say the winner here is Marad himself. (But honestly, if I had to pick the best of these five, I'd go with Collins, and Culpo an extremely close second.)
There were a few other looks on the red carpet last night that I wanted to mention. Here are a few other designers of noteworthy looks.
Anna Kendrick's gown by Vionnet is proof that a gown that is perfect except for a single detail can end up a complete mess. From the waist down, it's lovely: a dove gray, double-layered Grecian skirt with a full column under a longer split-front layer that ends in a train, topped by a narrow metallic silver belt. Even the bodice isn't awful (at first): corset style at the top, the fabric is gathered over the bust to create some texture, then drops down in vertical gathers to the waist. But then, the disastrous detail: A single swath of fabric starts below the left breast and pulls up over the right shoulder, immediately making the breasts look asymmetrical and off-center. I'm not sure if the swath of fabric ended as a trailing scarf at the back or whether it was actually anchored at the back, but it seems to be tugging uncomfortably. Anna Kendrick is a gorgeous woman who is nearly always smiling, but her expression in this photo seems to betray her disappointment in this gown.
Finally, the lovely (and fashionable) Emma Stone wore one of my personal favorite designers, Valentino. Her blush-pink gown blended with her skin tone, which is not usually a good look, but the bodice was encrusted with jewels and stars that created a line that was actually enhanced by having the gown fade away. The full skirt cascaded into a train embellished with a few more stars. Her low side chignon had a chunk of hair slipping out of it, but instead of looking messy, it just looked sweetly slightly imperfect (it reminded me of how the animators of Beauty and the Beast always had one lock of Belle's hair falling in her face, so she wasn't annoyingly perfect). But despite that, she did look absolutely perfect.