“Touch it,” said Sandra Oh, inviting strangers to stroke her crimson silk velvet Ralph & Russo gown. “Could you die? It’s so glamorous.” She was one of the few actresses who managed not to be sweating on the tented gold carpet at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards. “I think it’s because of the cage-like shoulders. I’m getting some ventilation.” Oh was, however, the only Asian American actress to be nominated for a Best Actress Emmy.
“I don’t know why, although I get asked that all the time,” she said of why it’s taken the industry so long to recognize more diverse artists. “But if you find yourself with the head of a studio or a director, ask them that question. Other than that, I’m just so happy that it’s happening and it’s happening now.”
The event teemed with actresses who appeared to be owning their power, their looks and their outfits.
“Glow” actress Britney Young was an apt poster girl for size inclusivity in her kelly-green Christian Siriano gown, which she got the jump on when she attended Siriano’s L.A. dinner in July.
“I was like, ‘Um, what are you doing around Emmy time?’ And he’s like, ‘What would you want to see yourself in?’ When I tried this dress on I teared up and told him I’ve never had something that is meant to be mine. That’s the thing with designers everywhere else: They are making a dress for the quote-unquote modern woman; they’re not making a dress for me. They are making a dress for who they think the modern woman is and not who we really are. Christian wants to make a dress for each individual woman.”
For the most part, major actresses made a good showing in custom — from Millie Bobby Brown and Claire Foy in Calvin Klein By Appointment to Penelope Cruz in Chanel to early Best Actress winner Rachel Brosnahan in Oscar de la Renta.
Adina Porter chose a custom yellow Rubin & Chappelle gown. “I have a nice behind and I felt like showing it off,” said the “American Horror Story” actress. “I’ve always been told that my butt was too big, my mouth was too big, and all these things are trendy now, so the trends have finally caught up to me.”
“I actually wore this dress before, to the Women of the Year Awards in India,” said 13-time nominee, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi of her J.Mendel dress. “So much work goes into these gowns, and I loved it, so it would be a shame not to wear it again. A stylish woman is someone who wears clothes she loves and feels confident in, over and over.” She added, “It sends the wrong message to young girls when we wear a different dress every time. None of us really have bottomless closets.”
While a rainbow of colors, particularly yellow, was a predominant red carpet trend, a handful of women went with classic black, including Sarah Silverman, Keri Russell, Sarah Paulson and Madeline Brewer, whose Brock Collection gown was a black version of her hairstylist Mara Roszak’s white wedding gown.
“Mara is my girl, and she’s really good friends with [Brock designer] Laura Vassar so it was kismet,” she said. In an ode to the wedding theme, she wore a row of white roses in the back of her hairdo.
“Game of Thrones” costars Nathalie Emmanuel and Jacob Anderson made a dashing duo — she in a black Stella McCartney mermaid gown that fit her like the proverbial glove. “My suit’s just from the high street, so I’m not gonna tell you who made it because I bought it myself,” said Anderson. The two Brits had their comedy routine down, telling reporters, “We actually hate each other. This acting deserves an award right now.” And with that, they walked away, and Emmanuel nearly bit it when Anderson stepped on her train.
Repeat Best Actress nominee, “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany, didn’t have any trouble getting around in her sleek Christian Siriano pantsuit. “It was very collaborative, he’s a genius,” she said of the designer, who also dressed Judith Light, Ann Dowd and Britney Young.
“I actually feel like I got my swagger today from the pants,” said Issa Rae of her custom Vera Wang pantsuit. “But you know, it is a jumpsuit, so going to the bathroom is going to be hard.” On the other hand, “This dress has a hundred diamonds embroidered into it, so I’m rich.”
Like Siriano, Wang had a good showing. She also dressed Elisabeth Moss and “Glow” star Betty Gilpin, who didn’t hold back on extolling the virtues of her coral column dress. “When you have [breasts] the weight of dead dogs…NASA had to engineer my dress,” she deadpanned. Clearly being part of a Best Comedy-nominated show has its perks. Said Gilpin, “My wedding dress was from Anthropologie, so yeah, I’m moving up in the world.”