Emmy Awards fashion highs and lows

Written by Cara Kelly

The red carpet at the 65th annual Emmy Awards Sunday night has been lauded as a successful merger of high fashion and an awards show that has long been on the bottom of the totem pole for innovation. But for all the praise, few individual pieces stood out as shining examples of experimental yet covetable garments. Many of the looks simply did not translate from runway to red carpet photos — and when a chunk of the audience is getting a glimpse of the fashion from a laptop or tablet, the photographic impact matters.

Such was the predicament for Kerry Washington. People magazine named the “Scandal” actress the world’s best-dressed woman mere days before her arrival at the awards ceremony in a muted Marchesa gown. Though her character Olivia Pope shines in soft whites and blush pinks on the small screen, the light color of Washington’s dress appeared dull in the sea of celebrities.

Kerry Washington arrives at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. Kerry Washington arrives at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

A look from the Marchesa Spring 2014 collection at Fashion Week in New York on Sept. 11, 2013. A look from the Marchesa Spring 2014 collection at Fashion Week in New York on Sept. 11, 2013. (Seth Wenig/AP)

The dress was the final look at the Marchesa spring/summer 2014 collection, which would typically make for a safe choice for a formal evening. Georgina Chapman, of Marchesa, has built a small empire by creating pieces that flatter a woman’s silhouette and hit a perfect note of extravagance for such occasions. But the floral embellishments which dazzled on the runway felt cumbersome on the layers of tulle Sunday evening.

Kate Mara had more success in pulling straight from a recent collection. Her white J. Mendel dress had a modern edge that she and sister, Rooney, often display in public appearances. The effect was refined with no unnecessary distractions.

Kate Mara arrives for the Emmy Awards Sept. 22, 2013. Kate Mara arrives for the Emmy Awards Sept. 22, 2013. (MIKE NELSON/EPA)

A look from the J. Mendel collection during fashion week in New York on Sept. 11, 2013. A look from the J. Mendel collection during fashion week in New York on Sept. 11, 2013. (STEPHEN CHERNIN/EPA)

This is an area where many otherwise elegant stars can fall prey to overwrought designs. That’s the misstep that Julie Bowen made. The “Modern Family” actress often favors overtly feminine pieces that seem to contradict her persona. The shoulders of her Jason Wu gown looked exceedingly heavy, as did the exaggerated fish-tail.

Julie Bowen arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. Julie Bowen arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Claire Danes arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. Claire Danes arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Claire Danes similarly suffered from an ill-imagined plunging v-neck. The “Homeland” star’s thin frame was exaggerated by the openness which exposed her chest bones in a way that read sickly rather than sexy.

Several other stars masterfully used a minimalist sensibility to their advantage. Allison Williams of HBO’s “Girls” looked remarkably chic in a bare Ralph Lauren gown. As did Edie Falco in an Escada dress with a flattering racer-cut neckline. And Tina Fey shone in a low-cut matte Narcisco Rodriguez.

Allison Williams arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. Allison Williams arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. (Jordan Strauss/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Edie Falco arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. Edie Falco arrives at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2013. (Jordan Strauss/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Taylor Schilling, Padma Lakshmi and Zooey Deschanel counterbalanced unexpected peeps of skin with modest necklines, providing a welcome polish to the bunch of lack-luster appearances.

 
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