It was a tale of two red carpets.
Famous actors often seem a little confused about what, exactly, a Golden Globe signifies - is this a serious honor, or just an occasion to get drunk during commercial breaks? - and this was reflected in their choice of clothing and coifs on Sunday night.
Cate Blanchett, nominated for her role as a curdled member of the upper class in “Blue Jasmine” and a veteran of couture, took the highest of high roads in black lace Armani - “ Mr. Armani,” she put it to an interrogator: high-necked in front, plunging in back. Lupita Nyong’o, a star of “12 Years a Slave” and a relative unknown in the fashion world even though she appears in Miu Miu’s spring 2014 campaign, was indisputably regal in a flowing red Ralph Lauren gown with cape that recalled a white one by Tom Ford that Gwyneth Paltrow wore to the 2012 Oscars.
This time Ford fared less memorably, with a liquid-gold sheath dress featuring cutouts for Naomi Watts, a presenter, that seemed too insubstantial for the chunky necklace collar holding it up. (He also outfitted her husband, Liev Schreiber of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.”) Then came Hayden Panettiere of ABC’s “Nashville,” her hair slicked back as if she’d just come out of the shower, in something black and white and cautiously slit-legged that one might expect to stumble on in the Better Dresses section of Macy’s. “It’s Tom Ford,” she said, and then, in a choice of words that underscored what an unthinking promotional blitz these events have become: “I’d wear a plastic bag if it was designed by him.”
And indeed there was something regrettably Hefty Cinch Sak about the crinkly white Dior strapless number, gripped horizontally by black ribbons at waist and hip, that was worn by America’s most recent sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence, though she managed to charm by a) laughing a lot, green earrings aquiver, and b) molting what looked like a million-dollar diamond bracelet during her preshow interview.
Strapless is a tough look to pull off - figuratively speaking, that is; it tends to migrate mercilessly down women’s bodies. But it should surprise no one at this point that this did nothing to deter Lena Dunham from the style, indeed that nothing could deter Dunham, of HBO’s “Girls,” from any style. She wore a taxicab-yellow dress by Zac Posen, seemingly with air quotes in place of a stole. “Someone told me to make an ‘S’ with my body,” she said, mugging for the camera and bragging of eating a hamburger before the proceedings.
Wearing a somewhat murky J. Mendel gown, Elisabeth Moss, of the Sundance Channel’s “Top of the Lake” and AMC’s “Mad Men,” mocked the E! network’s surreal “mani-cam” - for which hands “walk” to show off nail polish and rings - by using it to make a vulgar gesture with her middle finger, to the host Giuliana Rancic’s nervous titters.
And Julia Roberts’ Dolce & Gabbana dress was very uncharacteristic of the designers, seeming to take its inspiration from the casual ensembles Sharon Stone wore to formal events in the minimalist mid-1990s. The other prominent Julia, Louis-Dreyfus (nominated for both HBO’s “Veep” and the movie “Enough Said”), seemed more comfortable, glowing in a simple Narciso Rodriguez flame-red halter gown that suggested an Esther Williams glamour bathing suit, with a bouncy yet age-appropriate ponytail to match.
Red may have been the biggest winner, at least fashionably speaking. Amy Adams, whose turn in “American Hustle” almost certainly inspired some of the deeper necklines of the night (including Sandra Bullock’s ill-advised color-block frock), herself went 1970s period in two-toned crimson and scarlet Valentino, though her braided locks seemed too milkmaid for the skimpy dress. And Emma Watson, bless her, dared to show up in a cap-sleeved, hot-tomato Dior apron dress that, when she turned, revealed black pants. Perhaps in the end this was the smartest approach to a party that can’t figure out if it’s formal or festive casual.