Tracee Ellis Ross wearing Alexandre Vauthier at the 2020 Emmys.

Pajamas? Please. If you thought Sunday night’s virtual Emmy Awards were going on without Hollywood glamour, think again.

Sure, there were some pj’s and a couple of tracksuits during the at-home preshow and broadcast — but there was also couture and diamonds, even if we could only see most of it from the waist up.

“The world may be terrible, but TV has never been better,” said host Jimmy Kimmel, rallying the cardboard celebrity cutouts in the audience-less Staples Center at the start of the awards.

Despite a more informal Emmys dress code of “come as you are but make an effort,” most of the big luxury players were in the game (Louis Vuitton dressed Reese Witherspoon, Jeremy Pope, Paul Mescal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen), and some smaller ones were, too. (With the “Schitt’s Creek” near sweep, Daniel Levy’s gray flannel Thom Browne skirt suit may have gotten more airtime than anything, as he took award after award during the cast’s Canadian watch party.)

Reese Witherspoon in Louis Vuitton at the 2020 Emmys.  Courtesy

First-time winner Zendaya set the dressed-up tone Sunday afternoon before the ceremony even started, when stylist Law Roach posted a photo of her to his Instagram taking a spin in a glorious, modern-looking Christopher John Rogers black and blue plunge-front, cummerbund dress, jeweled Louboutin heels and colorful Bulgari baubles.

“I think we’ve all been starving for a great dress and a twirl,” Roach told WWD, sharing that he’d had his eye on this particular look, one of the designer’s famed strawberry silhouettes, since it came down the runway at New York Fashion Week in February.

“At the show, I texted Christopher and said you have to hold that dress for Zendaya. He didn’t ask for when or what, but literally was like, ‘Done!'” Because two looks are better than one, Zendaya wore an Armani Privé pearl-encrusted bandeau and pink polka-dot skirt when she accepted her award for best actress in a drama for “Euphoria.”

Zendaya wears Armani Privé at the 2020 Emmys.  Courtesy/Dominic Miller

The universe’s dark mood certainly called for some light (and Hollywood has often played that escapist role). There was also a lot to celebrate, with this year’s awards yielding the most Black actor nominees in Emmys’ history. (Actor John Leguizamo did boycott the Emmys, however, citing a lack of Latinx actor nominees, and The Hispanic Caucus also spoke out on the topic.)

And stars seemed to enjoy the excuse to get out of quarantine sweats.

Shira Hass, nominated for “Unorthodox,” was live on the E! preshow at 2 a.m. Tel Aviv time wearing couture, God bless her. “It’s Chanel and I’m in love with it,” she said of the floral-embroidered bustier dress, which took 1,200 hours of work. Cynthia Erivo wore a futuristic looking sparkly purple and neon-green swirl embroidered Versace minidress, her fingers full of Tiffany & Co. rings, and Kerry Washington chose a Dolce & Gabbana animal-print sheath with 45 carats of Chopard emeralds.

Shira Haas wearing Chanel haute couture at the 2020 Emmys.  Courtesy

For style-interested viewers, without a true red carpet, there was actually an incentive to sit through the broadcast to see what people were wearing — and to search on Instagram, where most posted their designer credits. (We’ll see what the viewership numbers are; last year’s host-less Emmys were the least watched in history.)

Nominee and presenter Tracee Ellis Ross delivered, setting up her own red carpet in the backyard to model her stunning gold lame ruffled Alexandre Vauthier gown and Tiffany jewelry. “How fun to get dressed up!” she posted.

Others chose to be more muted, but still made it fashion, including the cast of “Schitt’s Creek.” Levy’s Thom Browne skirt suit harked back to the one he rocked in the series wedding scene, while Catherine O’Hara chose a black Valentino sequined turtleneck, corseted dress and combat boots in her character Moira’s favorite black palette. “It’s still the glamour we all love to see, but toned down,” said her stylist Andrew Gelwicks. “It’s the perfect non-red-carpet, red-carpet moment.”

It certainly wasn’t all business as usual, though.

“What’s different is all the COVID-19 testing — I’ve probably had four tests this week — and trying to do everything as socially distant as possible,” stylist Roach said of working under pandemic conditions, which meant the ceremony was filmed live from 114 locations, and trophy presenters arrived wearing tuxedo Hazmat suits.

Politics were another subject of sartorial conversation. “Watchmen” winner Regina King wore a Breonna Taylor T-shirt with her pink Schiaparelli couture pantsuit. “Rest in power RBG,” she added in her speech, honoring the former Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Mrs. America” winner Uzo Uduba also paid tribute to Taylor with her T-shirt worn over an Aliette draped gold skirt, saying during her speech, “Let’s go change the world.” And Sterling K. Brown presented the last award of the night to “Succession” while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

Meanwhile, Ross, Braun, Washington, Aduba, Mahershala Ali, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Brosnahan, Issa Rae and Samira Wiley will all be donating their Emmys looks to the RAD (Red Carpet ADvocacy) charity auction beginning Sept. 23 at All sales will benefit When We All Vote, former first lady Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan voter registration organization.

“It’s inspiring to see so many people get together for a common purpose,” said stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who started Chic- during the pandemic to sell designer clothing and accessories to aid frontline workers. “We all recognize that the fun and magic of the red carpet is a great escape, but also that the world is in a place where there needs to be even greater purpose behind what we do.”

Yara Shahidi wearing Prada at the 2020 Emmys.  Courtesy/Keri Shahidi

Issa Rae wearing a custom Sergio Hudson look at the 2020 Emmys.  Courtesy/Jorge Meza


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