It’s the unofficial dress code of this year’s Emmy Awards, says celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger. She’s dressing Meryl Streep — nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for “Big Little Lies” — for the digital ceremony, which airs on Sunday. “I think we’ll see lots of fancy pajamas.”
“All the stars and half the glamour,” jokes Tracee Ellis Ross in a promo for the awards show, which was filmed in 114 locations (living rooms?) around the world.
The show’s organizers were the first to suggest sleepwear instead of formalwear. “Come as you are but make an effort,” noted a letter that sources say was mailed to nominees by the Television Academy. While the organization welcomes dressing up, “equally if you’re in the U.K. and it’s 3 a.m., perhaps you want to be in designer pajamas and record from your bed?” the missive suggested.
It’s easy to imagine Jimmy Kimmel, the night’s host, stepping out in PJs for laughs for his opening monologue. And certainly glam pajamas have been a fashion trend — at all times of day — for a while now. Tilda Swinton stepped out in a pair this month during the Venice Film Festival, wearing a silk, belted green top and blue bottoms by Haider Ackermann.
“Chic pajamas still require a bit of effort,” says stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who works with “Mrs. America” nominee Cate Blanchett, adding that American socialite Babe Paley invented the chic pajama trend.
Likely opting out of jammies, though, is first-time nominee and “Euphoria” star Zendaya, who works with stylist Law Roach.
“I do want to dress up,” she told actor Ben Platt when he guest-hosted “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Aug. 20. Zendaya is up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series alongside Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Laura Linney, Olivia Colman and Jennifer Aniston. “I still wanna have the experience. You know, it’ll be just probably my family over here, but I definitely wanna pull a look and maybe just walk my living room carpet.”
The focus will likely be on “the waist up” given the circumstances, Erlanger says. “Because how else would they do it digitally? I don’t know if they’ll be able to capture people full-length.”
Expect elements that “pop on camera,” says the stylist, who has a partnership with Platinum Born. “We’ll especially see a highlight on jewelry, because it’s all about the neckline. It’s all about framing the face…statement necklaces, earrings. I think we’ll see more color, more unique prints, interesting details, bling…but you’re not going to necessarily bring out the big guns when it comes to jewelry.” (A note going into holiday season — get your Zoom bling ready.)
Undoubtedly there’s a less-is-more approach to styling these days, due to the impact of the health crisis. With the raging wildfires and storms, sustainability, too, may get more of a spotlight, as it did during the last awards show cycle and at the Venice Film Festival, where Blanchett led the charge to reuse and rewear on the red carpet.
“Who says you have to wear something new?” Erlanger says. “Can’t you wear something that’s been worn by somebody else? Why can’t you wear something that you’ve worn before that you love? You know, I truly believe that that sort of old concept, the outdated concept that it has to be the newest, latest, greatest thing will go out the window.”
For years, the industry has embraced “a more is more is more mentality,” says Erin Walsh, whose clients Thandie Newton and Mark Ruffalo are nominated for Emmys this year. The stylist is now taking a different approach to her work.
“It’s been immensely rewarding to find the best in less options, with less waste,” she continues. “For any shoots I’ve been doing and even at times with clients, I’ve been bringing fewer options to the table, but great and innovative and exciting options. I’ve certainly reconnected with what I do and why in a totally different way, and it means more.”
Stylist Jill Lincoln can relate.
“It’s really become less excessive than it was, which is a good thing, because it was bordering on insane sometimes with what we would show up with,” Lincoln says. “It’s bringing us back to a place where we’re styling again. We’re not just dressing, you know?”
She and business partner Jordan Johnson are working with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” actress and Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan, who’s nominated again this year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
“We’re considering what room in her house she’s going to be Zooming in, Skyping in or whatever,” Lincoln says of Brosnahan. “How do we want her to look when she’s sitting on her couch at home?”
It’s the question she, like all stylists, keeps asking herself.
“We were playing with fabrics, and [Rachel] was like, ‘I’ll probably be in this room during the Emmys,’ and so we’re like, ‘Oh maybe this fabric would work a little better in that room,’” chimes in Johnson.
They’re collaborating on a custom design for Brosnahan, though the look “is telling a stronger story than just, ‘Here she is on the red carpet wearing a couture dress and some pretty jewelry,’” adds Lincoln. “We’re working with somebody who might not be expected, somebody who is very well connected in our world. Rachel is very philanthropic, and Jordan and I, that’s really important for us.’”
Given the state of the world, with many out of work, the Black Lives Matter movement and upcoming presidential election, there may be more thoughtfulness put into the looks this year. There could be bold political statements and charitable partnerships between stars and designers, perhaps with the RAD (Red Carpet Advocacy) group or Chic Relief, which collaborated on a fashion auction for charity out of Venice.
“The overall consensus is that people feel somewhat uncomfortable going too over the top…” Walsh says. The reality is, “They’ll be sitting on their couch at home.” Just like the rest of us.