When Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy, I was 97% excited and 3% bummed. That 3% was because I knew that from this point onward, we were in for journalistic masterpieces like Pantsuit Watch 2016. At this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Cecily Strong solved that problem once and for all:
It should go without saying that a public figure’s appearance is not news – unless she makes it news. One time when that happens is on the red carpet: part of the deal is that celebrities help promote their designers by mentioning who they’re wearing. We’ll be the first to admit that there’s a home for fashion commentary online – we love outfits so much that we have a post category called Outfit Girl, after all. But what would it look like if journalists paid the barest attention to fashion – just the facts – then switched over to the stuff that really matters? Let’s try it out with the top looks from the White House Correspondent’s dinner.
Michelle Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer wearing a metallic silver dress by Zac Posen. Her Let’s Move! campaign endeavors to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. by promoting exercise and a healthy diet. She has publicly backed economic stimulus packages, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act, and LGBT equality, and has made a number of diplomatic trips in the capacity of First Lady. It is an unpaid position, and her hair looks awesome curly.
Cecily Strong made her SNL debut at the age of 28, and quickly gained popularity for her off-the-wall characters like the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party. Strong has a BFA in fine arts from CalArts and will be a Ghostbuster next year. This year she served as host of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and her appearance was so hilarious that you should just watch the whole thing here. You can locate the funniest jokes by finding which ones nobody laughs at because they’re not sure if they’re allowed to. Here she is in a black and purple gown by J.Mendel and some strong eye makeup, mere hours before absolutely killing it in front of Washington and Hollywood elite.
Gina Rodriguez is the Golden Globe-winning star of Jane The Virgin, and she used her Globes acceptance speech to express thanks to the Latino community and call out the need for more, and more varied, representation of Latinos in the media. Rodriguez said “This award is so much more than myself, it represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes […] My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today is going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, Dad — Today is a great day. I can and I did.” At the White House Correspondents’ dinner, Rodriguez wore a rose-colored Gustav Cadile gown.
Idina Menzel is a Tony-winning actress who has also appeared on film and in television, but you may know her best as the voice of Elsa in Frozen … or as Maureen from Rent or Elphaba from Wicked; I guess that depends on your demographic. In addition to her impressive list of stage credits, Menzel created the A BroaderWay Foundation with then-husband Taye Diggs to support disadvantaged youth in the arts. At the WHCD, Menzel sported blonder-than-usual hair, perfect for her upcoming summer-long world tour. She wore a Monique Lhuillier gown; clutch is by Judith Leiber and jewels are by Jacob & Co.
Lucy Liu, an actress known for her roles in Ally McBeal, Southland and Elementary, is also an accomplished visual artist who is fluent in Mandarin. Liu has worked to spread knowledge about human trafficking, as well as serving as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. Here she is discussing the importance of representation in television:
Also, that sparkly gown is to die for.
This sequin gown by Donna Karan is reminiscent of Jane Fonda’s costumes in her breakout role in the 1968 film Barbarella. Since then, Fonda has won two Oscars and built an exercise video empire which – speaking of outfits – popularized that 80s aerobic gear that looks like nothing so much as a full-body wedgie. After sparking controversy for opposing the Vietnam War and supporting the Black Panthers, Fonda’s activism efforts have included establishing the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health at Emory University and participating in anti-Iraq War protests.
It’s been a rough couple months for Ashley Judd on the internet, so first something positive: she looks fantastic in this Badgley Mischka gown. Missed the online controversy? After posting some rather innocuous tweets in support of her alma mater’s basketball team – the Kentucky Wildcats – Judd faced a deluge of vulgar and threatening messages from mean-spirited trolls. As people who write stuff on the internet, we wouldn’t wish this kind of attack on anybody. However, Judd has spoken out on the inadequacies of platforms like Twitter in dealing with threats, sparking a discussion of how scary and upsetting online bullying can be – and this high-profile commentary just might help change things for the better. This isn’t the only cause Judd supports: she is on the board of directors of YouthAIDS and the Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women.
On Friday Night Lights, Connie Britton played the fantastic Tami Taylor, my favorite Texan I’m not related to. In real life, Britton is a Dartmouth grad with a resume including television (FNL, Nashville), theater, and film. Outside of her day job, she is a goodwill ambassador with the United Nations Development Programme. Gown by Halston Heritage.
If you don’t know who Laverne Cox is, that means you haven’t seen Orange Is The New Black – so first things first, queue it up on Netflix and you won’t regret it. Cox, a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an acting Emmy. She has participated in a number of interviews and documentaries to promote understanding and dispel misconceptions about trans people, and speaking of visibility, will you look at her in this silver Ines Di Santo gown?
Barack Obama, best known as the President Of The United States, is wearing a classic black tux with a bow tie and a flash of white pocket square. Shirt buttons are a dark contrast – mother of pearl, perhaps? – and the lapel is accessorized with a Tiny American Flag Pin. When he isn’t dazzling crowds with red-carpet panache, President Obama is expanding Americans’ access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, tackling financial reform with the passage of the Dodd-Frank act, shoring up the post-recession economy with economic stimuli, and Obama still has time to raise two teenagers and play the occasional pickup game with his Washington buds.