The 2020 Emmy Awards looked a bit different this year. The awards show, often dubbed “television’s biggest night,” was a virtual ceremony presented Sept. 20. This introduced logistical challenges to all aspects of its production but most notably to the red carpet.
The red carpet, usually an integral part of any awards show, is an opportunity for stars to express their style and showcase new designer looks before being celebrated for their work on screen. This year, however, nominees streaming into the awards from home had the leisure to dress as they wished. Some continued the tradition of wearing floor-length designer gowns and tuxedos, while others opted for pajamas and a glass of wine.
The Emmys broadcasted 138 stars from their homes or “watch parties” from 10 countries around the world, a technological feat prone to glitches and delays. Even more difficult was displaying red carpet fashion without the professional photography and styling expected of such a large-scale event.
The producers of the show presented the nominees and presenters with a dress code open to interpretation, writing to them in a letter prior to the show, “Our informal theme for the night is ‘Come as you are, but make an effort!’” Indeed, celebrities took this instruction in many different directions. Some managed to dazzle viewers with their fashion and creativity while others were less successful, a reality which evidently remains no matter the format of the show.
Pajamas as Fashion: Alex Borstein and Jameela Jamil
Alex Borstein of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, expressed her penchant for humor in her fashion choices as well as her choice of setting. Perched on a bed on a roof, Borstein’s pink silk robe and black nightgown outfit took the “stay at home” directive to a whole new level. Her blonde wig, glass of wine and dramatic pose certainly complete the look. Her adorable dog is a welcome bonus.
Jameela Jamil, who stars in the Emmy-nominated comedy “The Good Place,” took a more low-key approach to this year’s attire. She wore white loungewear and posed on her couch, showing off her relaxed fashion choices. In her post, she commented “No bra? No heels? No problem,” demonstrating her attitude to this year’s festivities. However, she didn’t take full advantage of the lack of dress code this year, adding a floor-length sequin dressing gown to her outfit as an homage to her character on the show.
Designer Looks with a Twist: Zendaya, Tracee Ellis Ross and Dan Levy
Zendaya, who became the youngest ever winner of Best Actress in a Drama Series at age 24 for her work in “Euphoria,” had outfits (yes, more than one) that matched the prestige of her award and reflected her daring style. First, she presented a nominee wearing an architectural Christopher John Rogers dress and a Bulgari necklace. The dramatic neckline and bright purple hue expressed Zendaya’s outgoing personality and represented a more mature look for the young actress.
Her second look, however, was the real star of the show. This outfit, which she switched into for her own nomination, was younger and even more expressive than the first. She wore a custom Armani Privé polka dot ball gown skirt with a black velvet, crystal- and pearl-bedazzled top. The unique two-piece ensemble was fitting for Zendaya, who embraces individuality and staying true to herself. This was undoubtedly one of the best looks of the night.
Tracee Ellis Ross, nominated for her leading role in “Black-ish,” certainly shone in this gold gown by Alexandre Vauthier, paired with Jimmy Choo heels and Tiffany & Co. jewelry. Though somewhat tacky, especially given the combination of fabric choice and ruffles, Ross deserves some points for her DIY red carpet and her dedication to showcasing a traditional awards show look despite being at home.
“Schitt’s Creek” swept the Emmy awards this year, racking up nine awards total. Three of them went to Dan Levy for acting, writing and directing. “Schitt’s Creek” wasn’t Levy’s only success this year: his classic suit with a twist by Thom Browne was a win in itself. In a look that I, for one, could not pull off, Levy looked incredibly fashionable and evoked the style of his character in “Schitt’s Creek,” David Rose, who wore a kilt tuxedo in his wedding on the show.
Award Show Activism: Sandra Oh and Regina King
Sandra Oh, nominated for best leading actress in a drama series for her show “Killing Eve,” took a unique approach to this year’s Emmys, opting to express her heritage and an inspiring message through her choice of attire. Her jacket, custom-made by KORELIMITED, reads “Black Lives are Precious” in Korean. Using the flexible dress code as an opportunity, Oh chose this specific designer to promote a lesser-known, younger brand, while showcasing a powerful message about her own Korean heritage as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. The purple bomber jacket, paired with Wilfredo Rosado earrings and Christian Louboutin heels, was a stylish happy medium between an all-out red carpet look and loungewear. The look’s personal resonance to Oh and powerful call-to-action make it an all the more successful fashion statement.
Regina King, too, utilized the virtual platform to call attention to an issue important to her. King won an Emmy for her leading performance in “Watchmen.” While she initially wore a bright blue red carpet-esque gown by Schiaparelli Couture, she switched outfits during the show. In this second look, King wore a hot pink bold-shouldered pantsuit, also by Schiaparelli. Underneath the jacket, she wore a graphic t-shirt by Phenomenal Woman in partnership with the Breonna Taylor Foundation, which depicted Breonna Taylor along with the words “Say Her Name.” All proceeds from the shirt are donated to the Breonna Taylor Foundation, according to the Phenomenal Women Action Campaign. Although King’s outfit itself was not traditionally fashion-forward, her bold tribute to Breonna Taylor added a meaningful dimension to this year’s Emmys.