Actresses can never resist the allure of old Hollywood glamour when they parade onto the red carpet, but for Sunday’s Emmys, the ghosts of frocks past haunted the proceedings. Those who decided to go contemporary — this means you, January Jones and Nicole Kidman — looked out of place at the retro costume party. “Mad Men” star Christina Hendricks, who looked like a latter-day Marilyn Monroe, confessed that she was under the spell of old Hollywood when she choose the Christian Siriano dress that clung to her curves. “The Good Wife” star Julianna Margulies also said she was attempting a retro look, but was slightly less successful in a Giambattista Valli gown that looked like a 1950s bedspread.
Despite an odd lady pompadour, Ashley Judd also attempted time travel in a Carolina Herrera raspberry gown constructed of duchess silk. “Veep” star Anna Chlumsky and “Game of Thrones” star Lena Headey both opted for vintage feminine lace. It wasn’t only 1940s and 1950s Hollywood that walked the carpet. Connie Britton of “Nashville” recalled the ’60s in a sparkly gunpowder gray gown — and a teased coiffure to match.
If there were an Emmy for best Emmy gown, the clear winner would be “Mad Men” star Jessica Pare in a simple and stunning white custom Jason Wu creation.
It seemed almost too perfect that “Once Upon a Time” star Ginnifer Goodwin opted for a Monique Lhuillier gown that could have been plucked from a fairy tale. Those bright tangerine vines swirling about her could only exist in an enchanted forest — or in Hollywood.
“Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara’s hand-beaded teal Zuhair Murad gown looked like a modern update of Jean Harlow’s form-fitting gowns of the 1930s.
Zooey Deschanel of “New Girl” may have looked ready for a 1956 prom in pale blue Reem Acra, but the frothy confection was well-suited for her left-of-center sartorial tastes.
One of the biggest fashion damages on the red carpet was Glenn Close ’s dress, one that looked better suited for “American Horror Story” than a formal event.
If Julianne Moore was attempting to resemble a canary on the carpet, then her dress was an extraordinary success. Aside from the eye-popping color, the silhouette of her gown was simply bland.
The art deco touches of “Girls” star Zosia Mamet’s puzzling black and white gown left the actress looking as lifeless as an empty office building.Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.