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Is It Just Me, or Was Everyone Dressing Like Their On-Screen Characters at the Emmys?
09.23.19

As I watched Gwendoline Christie walk down the red carpet last night, for a moment I wasn’t sure if I was watching the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards or a much-requested remake of the Game of Thrones series finale. The actress was wearing a Gucci gown-cum-cape ensemble that literally looked like something her character would wear to a fancy dress ball in Westeros if she weren’t otherwise occupied with more pressing matters like defending humankind from blue-eyed monsters and hooking up with Jaime Lannister. I would have chalked up the move to Christie’s overall swagger (initially exemplified by her decision to nominate herself for an Emmy award when she found out HBO wasn’t going to), but as I observed more outfits throughout the evening, I realized she wasn’t the only person whose look was inspired by her on-screen self.

Jameela Jamil looked unmistakably Tahani-esque in her sea foam green Monique Lhullier gown and matching clutch. The princess vibes and old-school glamour were extremely on-brand for her fictional counterpart in The Good Place, whom I could easily envision wearing the same thing to grab coffee in the morning or lounge around on the couch while making dramatic statements. In the aforementioned clutch, she reportedly carried a tube of lipstick, a cellphone, and an unopened string cheese. Since I’m not sure how Tahani feels about string cheese but could make an educated guess, I suppose you could say that single item was what tied the outfit to reality (as opposed to a made-up world where there are robots named Janet).

Sarah Snook was also giving me major on-screen alter ego energy in a buttery ensemble from Irwin Garden that looked like it was plucked straight from Shiv Roy’s wardrobe on Succession. As Edith explained in her ode to Shiv’s personal style, the character gravitates toward “a trifecta of a warm terracotta palette, supple textures and high-waisted, wide-legged, long-sleeved silhouettes.” In other words, she seems to be an ardent fan of neutral hues and sophisticated, precise tailoring, which is exactly how you might describe Snook’s red carpet ensemble. We may never know which came first, the chicken or the egg, the style proclivities of Sarah or Shiv, but it’s fun to speculate.

Likewise, Cookie Ly–I mean Taraji P. Henson–told Variety that she felt “like cotton candy” in her unmissable pink and red dress from Vera Wang. The full effect of the gown was visible only when she spread her arms out à la a bird in flight, showing off the wingspan of her translucent chiffon cape. If you glance at a lineup of Henson’s past Emmys ensembles, it’s clear that she has gradually started dressing more and more like her Empire character, with yesterday’s look being the most resplendently Cookie-adjacent to date.

At HBO’s Emmys after party, Alexa Demie, who plays Maddy on Euphoria, wore a skin-tight black dress that fanned out with sheer, dramatic flare. I haven’t been able to determine what designer it is (at this point the number of Alexa Demie-related keywords I’ve typed into Google are bordering on the absurd), but it was basically a black-tie version of the two-piece outfit Maddy wears to the carnival in episode 4 of the series–less midriff, more bling. Her dramatically winged eyeliner was also reminiscent of her character’s penchant for statement eye makeup.

There are numerous plausible explanations for why these 3-D women dressed like their 2-D selves on the red carpet last night. On the one hand, it could be professionally strategic. The more acutely actors are able to embody their characters, on-screen and off, the more their performances and their shows will remain embedded at the forefront of popular culture. The more memes will be generated and press mentions (this very story being a perfect example) will be written up. On the other hand, it’s an excuse to have some much-needed red carpet fun, to share a wink and a nod with fans and audience members who love the characters they play and the things they wear. Because when else are you going to have the chance to put on a gown-cum-cape that sits somewhere between period costume and Jesus attire and avoid the inevitable Halloween joke? Carpe diem, I say.

Photos via Getty Images.

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