Best Dressed at the 2017 Oscars

We’ve been blogging about the Oscars for four years now and watching them for about 20 – and that was hands-down the nuttiest night in our Academy Awards memory. From Denzel’s shocking loss to Viola’s triumphant win, Auli’i Cravalho’s otherwordly poise and composure to Lin’s endearing joy, culminating in the most INSANE deus ex machina ending we’ve ever seen – when the wrong envelope was opened and La La Land was announced the winner, only to have producers come out and confirm that the rightful winner as Moonlight – there was a whole lot going on. It’s almost enough to make you forget that it was an amazing night for fashion, too. Key word: Almost. Because no matter what insanity went on with the envelopes, we feel pretty confident about who the winners of our Best Dressed prizes should be.

Molly’s Picks

Janelle Monae in Elie Saab
I've been a Janelle Monae stan since The ArchAndroid, and I am having SUCH an

I’ve been a Janelle Monae stan since The ArchAndroid, and I am having SUCH an “I’ve been telling you all” moment right now. Things to know about Janelle’s fashion choices: for quite some time she only appeared in black and white tuxedos, but she has relaxed her “uniform” and now wears gowns, always in her signature black and white. Her albums center around a futuristic sci-fi mythology, a world populated by androids with lots of cool space allusions. I could see this look flopping on somebody else, but knowing Janelle’s penchant for black and white, and her fusion of sci-fi and soul, an Oscar gown where she looks like an intergalactic android empress is the best and, honestly, only appropriate choice. Also: that short hair and grecian headband: excellent.

Emma Stone in Givenchy
Like with Janelle Monae's look, I love Emma Stone's gown as much for what it represents as for how it looks. For a lot of us, Givenchy will always be synonymous with Audrey Hepburn, and in fact Emma is the first person to win Best Actress in Givenchy since Audrey. As I've said other years, I always love when nominated actresses dress with an eye towards the fact that this may be THE dress for them: the image that will be called up throughout their career and used in stories about them when they're old ladies. And with La La Land so glitzy and classic, this Old Hollywood look is a symbolic choice - a gown that could have been featured in one of the classic films Emma's character Mia grew up checking out of the library. A note about makeup: every single time I see Emma in a lip color, I think that it's HER color. Coral: her color. Bright pink: her color. This brick red: her color. She has a complexion for lipstick, which I didn't realize was a thing until just now.

Like with Janelle Monae’s dress, I love Emma Stone’s gown as much for what it represents as for how it looks. For a lot of us, Givenchy will always be synonymous with Audrey Hepburn, and in fact Emma is the first person to win Best Actress in Givenchy since Audrey. As I’ve said other years, I always love when nominated actresses dress with an eye towards the fact that this may be THE dress for them: the image that will be called up throughout their career and used in stories about them when they’re old ladies. And with La La Land so glitzy and classic, this Old Hollywood look is a symbolic choice – a gown that could have been featured in one of the classic films Emma’s character Mia grew up checking out of the library. A note about makeup: every single time I see Emma in a lip color, I think that it’s HER color. Coral: her color. Bright pink: her color. This brick red: her color. She has a complexion for lipstick, which I didn’t realize was a thing until just now. Also of note, Emma is sporting a small Planned Parenthood pin.

Ruth Negga in Valentino
Evidently the inspiration for this look was

Evidently the inspiration for this look was “pagan goddess.” I was going to say a more streamlined take on a demure Victorian look, but either way. I wouldn’t love the high neck and long sleeves on just anybody, but Ruth has such long, straight lines and I think it complements her perfectly. I love the contrast of the brighter, orange-y red with the deeper ruby on her headpiece and earrings. I find this dress to be a great example of dressing FOR your type (Ruth is this year’s pixie-like ethereal Irish nominee, after all), instead of against it. My only very minor gripe is that red dresses always look odd on the red carpet because of the contrasting tones. Note the blue ribbon for the ACLU.

Nicole Kidman in Armani Prive
Love the pillar dress, love the embellishments, actually love that this whole look is basically monochrome except for her lip color.

Love the pillar dress, love the embellishments, actually love that this whole look is basically monochrome except for her lip color.

Mahershala Ali in Ermenegildo Zegna Couture
Because we have to acknowledge that the men tried, too. Sometimes black-on-black can look kitschy, but the way this pulls together is pure elegance. I love that he went with a waistcoat and shirt, stayed black with the bow tie, and splashed it out a bit with the pocket square. And the shirt studs, besides? He is killing me. It's just so great to see a man having fun with accessorizing. Elegant, indeed.

Because we have to acknowledge that the men tried, too. Sometimes black-on-black can look kitschy, but the way this pulls together is pure elegance. I love that he went with a waistcoat and shirt, stayed black with the bow tie, and splashed it out a bit with the pocket square. And the shirt studs, besides? He is killing me. It’s just so great to see a man having fun with accessorizing. Elegant, indeed.

Brie Larson in Oscar De La Renta
Brie looks pristine and icy and beautiful, exactly how you should look while forking over an award with a pursed-lip smile while gently seething. The length is fantastic, I love the train and I don't always love trains, and the architectural structuring on the front of this is perfectly matched with the contrasting fabric finishes.

Brie looks pristine and icy and beautiful, exactly how you should look while forking over an award with a pursed-lip smile while gently seething [Annual reminder that Brie Larson is a Good Person]. The length is fantastic, I love the train and I don’t always love trains, and the architectural structuring on the front of this is perfectly paired with the contrasting fabric finishes.

Traci’s Picks

Taraji P. Henson in Alberta Ferretti

Taraji kept it classic and cool in a gown fit for Hollywood royalty. The neckline cut is perfect, the slit on the leg isn’t too high, and the best part is that this velour dress isn’t black – it’s navy blue.

Auli’i Cravalho in Rubin Singer

Like Moana coming out from the sea, Auli’i stepped into the spotlight and straight to our hearts. In addition to her outstanding performance with our boy Lin-Manuel during the show, this SIXTEEN YEAR OLD wore this gorge flowing gown on the red carpet. The white dress with gold accents was classy but just unique enough to stand out from the crowd. It also reminds me of water, but maybe I’m too into Moana.

Ava DuVernay in Ashi Studio

Ava might not have walked away with the gold last night (we’re of the mindset that she should have won, but whatever), but she sure did make a statement with this stunning gown by Ashi Studio, a designer based in Lebanon. The country is 54% Muslim, and Ava chose them specifically as a “small sign of solidarity.” We need people like you, Ava.

Isabelle Huppert in Armani Privé

I haven’t even seen Elle, nor have I seen anything Isabelle Huppert has been in, but she looks like Hollywood royalty in this gown. The 63 year old donned a dress perfect for her age, with just enough sparkle to shine in a sea of youngins.

David Oyelowo in Dolce & Gabbana

More and more men are taking risks with color on the red carpet, and David Oyelowo is rocking a black and white suit coat with modern details, and we are all for it.

 

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Golden Globes 2016 – Best and Worst Dressed

Awards season was off to a (slightly censored) start last night with the Golden Globes, and now that we’re officially promised ceremonies filled with Kate and Leo reunions for the next few weeks, I’d say it’s looking pretty good. Also looking pretty good – a number of the ladies in designer gowns. We’re back to bring you our picks for Best and Worst dressed from the booze-filled ceremony, capes and all.

Best Dressed

Molly’s Picks

Brie Larson in Calvin Klein

Like our 2003 Junior Prom, dresses with cutouts in the midsection are really in – and like our 2003 Junior Prom, just having good abs isn’t enough to pull off the look. Take a closer look at the beading – this is one marvelously well-executed dress and the color is perfect on Brie’s complexion.

Alicia Vikander in Louis Vouitton

To be more specific: I love this on Alicia Vikander- it’s so fresh and minimal it almost looks like a light summer dress instead of a formal gown until you look at how beautifully executed the pleats are. It’s really deceptively simple, but if it were tailored just a bit less well we’d be in pinafore territory: that’s what makes this such a success in my book.

Jaimie Alexander in Genny

The Golden Globes are a bit more playful (read: boozy) than the Oscars, and it’s just the place for a bold geometric pattern like this. I can’t get over how perfect this emerald green color is on Jaime, and I’m almost amazed that the combination of the large pattern and low neckline isn’t over the top. I think the otherwise simple construction keeps it from crossing the line. Good work, Genny. Whoever you are.

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Haute Couture

Every awards show has one gown that waffles between my best dressed and worst dressed list, and this is the one for Golden Globes 2016. My thought is, Jennifer Lawrence has been a staple at every awards show for the past 4 years, but she’s still young and I’m happy to see her take a few risks. So combining a swing top with cutouts seems like a good thing to do – and good on her for balancing it with simple, classic hair and makeup.

Lily James in Marchesa

Lowkey trend of the past 2 years: capes on the red carpet. But in tulle, it looks new and downright angelic. If this dress were simply white it wouldn’t make my list, but look at it in a few different photos – it’s actually rainbow pastel like Lily is the queen of the unicorns or something.

Traci’s Picks

Jenna Dewan Tatum in Zuhair Murad Couture

After clearly beating her husband at Lip Sync Battle the other night despite it being a tie, Jenna knocked it out of the park again on Sunday with this gorgeous flowing navy blue gown. It gives off serious Starry Night vibes to me, which just makes me think of romance and glamour.

Laverne Cox in Elizabeth Kennedy

When you’re tall and skinny like Laverne a dress like this makes you look like a freaking Grecian goddess. I love that collar, too. She knows how to work this gown.

Olivia Wilde in Michael Kors

Glittery dresses seemed to be in fashion last night, and one of my favorite looks came from this beauty, in a to die crimson colored dress. It fits her body perfectly and I’m loving the complimentary eye makeup. The whole ensemble makes her looks sexy yet sophisticated at the same time.

Jennifer Lopez in Giambattista Valli

I went through a mustard phase a few years ago, and I still stand by it. The color doesn’t look great on everyone, and I don’t think J Lo’s worn a lot of dresses in this color, but she looks great in it. With the Angelina Jolie leg and the Lupita cape, I love all of it.

Taraji P. Henson in Stella McCartney

I judge a lot of my Best/Worst dressed on how the person carries themselves in said gown. If it looks like the dress is wearing you, I’m more apt to put you on the Worst list. If you know how to rock a simple yet stunning gown like Taraji, you’ve made the Best dressed. She came into the ceremony to slay, and even managed to hand out cookies on her way up to get her trophy too.

Bonus: Michael B. Jordan looking fine af.

Worst Dressed

Molly’s Picks

Cate Blanchett in Givenchy

I think it’s supposed to be 1920s fringe meets 1930s Old Hollywood, but I feel like she’s the fanciest barmaid in the whole saloon (not into THIS MUCH fringe, even on someone like Cate Blanchett).

Melissa McCarthy

First of all, she looks absolutely beautiful except for the dress. Second, the dress isn’t exactly her fault – these awards shows really emphasize that a lot of designers don’t know what to do with anyone over a size 6 or so. Third, I still wish Melissa would find a way to stay away from these dresses that look like garbage bags.

Kate Hudson in Michael Kors

Remember when I referenced my 2003 prom talking about Brie Larson? Yeah. This one is actually straight off of an early 2000s prom rack. It reminds me of something Britney Spears or Keira Knightly would have worn 13 years ago, which isn’t soon enough for a revival in my book. The matching choker doesn’t help.

 

Giuliana Rancic in Alex Perry

Take the same dress, give it cap sleeves, and it would be fine (-ish).

 Wiz Khalifa in Thom Browne

Wiz Khalifa looked like he was having a blast, which is great. I just wish he’d take off the sunglasses, wear long pants, and tidy up his tie.

Traci’s Picks

Taylor Schilling in Thakoon

As I mentioned with Taraji, sometimes the outfit wears you instead of the other way around. Taylor made my best dressed both at the 2014 Emmys and 2015 Golden Globes, but I’m not feeling it this year. That blazer – and I know she loves low-cut tops – and the glitter pant combo? Sorry, not for me.

Patricia Arquette in Paule Ka

Instead of putting a bird on it, Patricia misheard and put a *bow* on it.

Jane Fonda in Saint Laurent Paris

Jane Fonda is 78 and has a rockin bod. Remember this electric gown from Cannes last year? While this kind of shows her frame off, that top is not doing her any favors. She looks like the roof of a Spanish style house.

Cate Blanchett in Givenchy

Cate Blanchett – amazing actress, okay red carpet star.

Regina King in Krikor Jabotian

As much as I love a cape, it needs to be utilized in the right fashion. Lupita’s GG cape? Yes. J Lo’s GG cape? Yes. Regina’s sheer fabric ‘cape’? Nope.

 

Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Empire

If we made a “Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already Bingo” – and Holy Netflix, why haven’t we? – then Empire would have a full board. Empire is a musical drama about the family of music moguls and artists behind Empire Enterprises, a fictional hip-hop label. None of those key words appeal to you? Don’t worry.  Empire has so many of our favorite tv show qualities and characteristics that I can’t think of too many people who wouldn’t like it. It has a classic television series premise (we’ll explain!), family struggles, fancy people – who used to be underdogs, if you’re the sort who hates fancy people, music, few enough episodes that you can catch up in a weekend, and 90s flashbacks. Okay? Okay. Let’s discuss that bingo card.

Classic Pilot Premise
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBzu_jKLJek]

Maybe none of your favorite TV series are about hip-hop dynasties, but you don’t have to be into the genre, you just have to like a good television drama. One of the classic tv series premises is the “shake up”: the pilot introduces a shift in circumstances for the characters, and the series progresses as people try to deal with it. I’m going to do this without giving out much info beyond the first episode. Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is the CEO of Empire Entertainment. Two of his sons are artists on the label: singer-songwriter Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and rapper Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray). His third son, Andre, is the company CFO. Lucious is diagnosed with ALS, and he has to decide which of his sons will take over the label. Probably not Jamal, because he’s gay and Lucious can’t deal, but who knows? So that’s shake up, Part I. Shake up part II: The boys’ mother, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), is released from prison after 17 years and wants her piece of the Empire pie.

Biblical Family Struggles

Which child will be favored? Will the fight for their father’s blessing tear the brothers apart? And what happens when one parent chooses one child as a favorite, and the other parent favors a different child? It’s a family dynamic tug-of-war that’s as old as the Bible, and it makes for great television.

Fancy People

I like my television aspirational. Even when a series is about lower or middle-class folks, I want their clothes and house to be nicer than my own. Like, I wasn’t one of those people who was furious that Monica could never have afforded that apartment in Friends. What can I say, if I want to look at mall clothes and Ikea furniture, I can see them anytime I want. The Lyon family is totally loaded, and they’re in Hip Hop, so conspicuous consumption is the name of the game. Palatial estates, fur coats, a gold chain as thick as my hair braid … that’s what television is for. Lucious is partially inspired by Jay-Z, if that gives you an idea.

But maybe you disagree. Maybe you hate “rich people” (hi, Dad, didn’t know you read my blog). The Lyons rose from humble origins, and if the Jay-Z reference meant anything to you, you see where this is going – Lucious is a former drug dealer, which is what landed Cookie in prison.

Hip Hop
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtfFF_vYqrs]

I know, I said you didn’t have to like hip hop to like Empire. And you don’t. But if you do like hip hop, you should definitely be watching. Just about every episode has amazing musical performances. Jamal has a gorgeous voice, Hakeem is a solid rapper and most of his songs are collaborations with other great artists, and the original songs are actually good. Since it’s a show about the music industry, the transition to song is pretty seamless. It’s not like a musical where everyone is talking and then decides to rap-battle their family meeting (I would watch that though). It’s not hokey. Think more Nashville, less Smash.

90s Flashbacks

If there’s one thing a tv series needs to be truly zeitgeist-y, it’s 90s stuff. Counterintuitive, but you know it’s true. Cookie was arrested 17 years ago, and there are plenty of flashbacks that take us back into the world of Empire during that time. For those of us who grew up on 90s hip hop and R&B, it’s a dream come true. [We also think you should be watching Fresh Off The Boat, another 2015 series with a fondness for 90s hip hop. What a time to be alive.] All I can do is hope that as the episodes go on, we’ll get to delve into the East Coast/ West Coast feud.

Speaking of the 90s, you may recognize Jamal from the 1990s series On Our Own, where he played an orphan growing up with his J-named siblings (sis Jurnee Smollett is one of those actresses that you definitely know, even if you think you don’t). He was also in Mighty Ducks. 90s royalty, is all I’m saying.

And You Can Watch It All Over A Weekend

There are a lot of shows I know I should be watching if I’m not already, but it’s just too hard. If there’s more than a season or so, you aren’t just deciding to start a show, you’re making a massive time commitment. But Empire just started in January, and as of right now, you can watch all of the back episodes online or on demand. Once you’re all caught up – so, by tonight if you have a free and clear schedule today, and by next week for sure, unless you have a busy weekend – you need to be watching this show. It airs on Wednesdays on Fox. The more people who watch it, the more people we have to discuss it with, so thanks in advance.