Technical gaffes abounded, Jason Sudeikis kicked back in sweats like the rest of us and Emma Corrin wore Miu Miu with a Pierrot collar and a tear painted on her cheek (at least on Instagram) — a sad but stylish clown for a bittersweet night. Because what the 2021 Golden Globes may be remembered for most is controversy.
And they were mired in it, from the abomination in the year 2021 that there is not a single Black member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association; to the worthiness of such nominees as “Emily in Paris” and Kate Hudson in Sia’s panned film “Music,” to whether or not “Nomadland” was true enough in its depiction of how dehumanizing working in an Amazon warehouse can be.
Here’s another to add to the mix: for all the discussion about the lack of diversity and inclusion in the HFPA membership, and the Golden Globes snub of every single Black-led ensemble film in the motion picture category, there were precious few designers of color represented on the virtual red carpet. And that’s something the talent could control.
No question, the biggest reason is the money at stake. Brands that can are still pouring it into the virtual red carpet, even if not with literal pay for play, with custom designs, at-home photo crews to capture full-length shots and other perks.
Prada dressed 10 for the awards, Gucci dressed nine, Giorgio Armani dressed eight, Dior dressed eight, Valentino dressed six, Louis Vuitton dressed five and Chanel dressed four. Among them, only Vuitton has a designer of color at the helm: Virgil Abloh, for men’s wear, who outfitted Mark Ruffalo and Tahar Rahim.
Another reason is access. There need to be more Black designers out front at these big houses, and the ones who are working independently need more access to opportunity, including the red carpet.
Still, in the new era of symbolic, values-led dressing, which was on full display at the Biden inauguration, it felt like a missed opportunity for stars to say more with their clothes at the Globes, and perhaps support on a global stage emerging Black designers like Kerby Jean-Raymond, Sergio Hudson and Christopher John Rogers, who shouldn’t just be featured during the Black Entertainment Awards. (It’s worth mentioning how incredible it was that the late Cicely Tyson was loyal to designer B. Michael throughout her career, wearing his designs on the red carpet regularly.)
Even Tina Fey acknowledged the role fashion money plays in the Hollywood awards circuit. “Everyone knows awards shows are all a scam invented by big red carpet to sell more carpet,” she joked in the opening monologue.
So why not challenge that system?
“Viola wanted a designer who spoke to her specifically as a Black woman,” said her stylist Elizabeth Stewart. Davis wore the Black-owned brand on the July/August cover of Vanity Fair. “In the age of diversity and inclusivity, we have to rethink glamour and couture on the red carpet.”
But it’s curious more stars didn’t use the fashion spotlight to promote representation, since they have used it for political purposes before, making clothes matter during the #MeToo movement when many wore all-black to the Golden Globes in 2018 to protest, as well as Times Up pins. There wasn’t anything like that Sunday night (and the HPFA’s acknowledgement of the need for more inclusion was pretty lame, too, it should be said).
There were milestones worth celebrating, however.
Trailblazer Regina King was one of a record three female directors nominated. (Chloé Zhao, who won for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell were the other two.) King’s Louis Vuitton modern draped black column gown with full-body silhouette of silver and gold sequined embroidery that took 350 hours made her look like the queen she is.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said when asked on E! about her nomination. “I’m hoping this is the beginning of a true shift of recognizing women.”
On the fashion frontier, metallic hardware was a thing, also seen on Kate Hudson’s Vuitton off-the-shoulder zebra-sequined bodice column dress, which had punk swagger, and on Tiffany Haddish’s Alberta Ferretti sexy chain mail gown. Speaking of embellishment, Susan Kelechi Watson’s fully embroidered blue and white crystal fringe Georges Hobeika cape top and skirt were also fabulous.
There were a few more notable moments of fashion diversity and inclusion on the virtual carpet, but not enough.
While commentating on E!, Zanna Roberts Rassi wore a fabulous hot pink column dress with a plunge front and off-the-shoulder fan sleeves by Aliette, stylist-turned-designer Jason Rembert’s brand.
Zooey Deschanel also supported a Black fashion talent, Autumn Adeigbo.
While not a nominee, Kiersey Clemons chose a slinky black one-shouldered number with a high leg slit and crystal-edged waist cutout by the politically outspoken Prabal Gurung, who hails from Nepal, and has been raising consciousness on social media about the rise in racially motivated hate crimes against Asian Americans.
“To be a voice for the fact that the stories and creativity of people of color matters, that our existence matters.…She is willing to generously share her platform with us in this time where so many marginalized peoples’ identity and existence are being threatened or questioned,” said Gurung. “It is especially meaningful to have her wear our designs to the Golden Globes, where there is an unfortunate history of not recognizing the work of talented Black actors and actresses. This is a movement, not a moment, and it takes small and big steps to move progress forward.”
Amanda Seyfried wore a peach sorbet of an Oscar de la Renta, her shoulders encircled in a wreath of flowers. The gown was designed by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, who has also spoken out against hate crimes against Asians. “I hope moments like these can bring more visibility and highlight the talented work of Asian designers,” Kim said.
Cynthia Erivo chose a neon green Valentino spring 2021 couture tea-length gown that tilted like an upside-down teacup when she walked, embodying the highlighter-hue trend. Dan Levy wore a cool slouchy suit in a similar Valentino shade, with a sequined turtleneck and silver platform shoes. It rocked and was the best of the night’s men’s wear, aside from Leslie Odom Jr.’s Valentino bicolor beige suit, over a white shirt and acid green turtleneck.
Beside flashes of metallic hardware, hot color made the most of the digital medium. Jo Ellen Pellman was a ray of sunshine in Inauguration designer Jonathan Cohen’s multicolored knotted bow gown, and Rosamund Pike a pretty puddle of cherry red Molly Goddard tulle. Classically draped bias-cut gowns were also notable, courtesy of Prada and Gucci, and made an impression on-screen at the shoulder and neckline.
On the subject of the luxury brand designer dress derby, it was surprising that Kim Jones, having just debuted his first couture and ready-to-wear collections for Fendi, didn’t make a splash. Maybe he’s holding out for the Oscars.
While it was refreshing to have Hollywood dressed up again, the visuals of Elle Fanning and Shira Haas all dressed up in couture and diamonds by themselves in empty hotel rooms on the other side of the world was a bit sad. Then again, the pandemic is isolating, as “Crown” actor Josh O’Connor spoke about in his acceptance speech, no matter who you are.