NEW YORK — Michaela Jaé “Mj” Rodriguez wore vintage Versace Atelier in teal in an homage to Old Hollywood, her hair flowing down her back, and Billy Porter worked large wings on his black trouser look Sunday at the slimmed-down Emmy Awards.
Coming less than a week after the wild and sometimes wacky fashion of the Met Gala, glamour was back at the Emmys. There were looks of soft pink and yellow, statement minis in bright sequins — and Nicole Byer in a stunning strapless purple gown that was sure to land her a best-dressed spot.
Many, including Kate Winslet, Jean Smart and Cecily Strong, went for classic black, the latter with a high slit and low plunge. Black isn't Cedric the Entertainer's style. The evening's host walked the red carpet in color-blocked shades of blue.
Porter worked the poses for the cameras, showing off his wings.
“I AM the fairy godmother. There is a theme going on,” Porter said of his recent turn in “Cinderella.”
O-T Fagbenle, meanwhile, wore a traditional Nigerian look in red with black accents by a Lagos brand, Sofisticat.
Byer wore custom Christian Siriano. She thanked all the women who came before her to break the couture barrier for plus-size women, and she went for it in the strapless look with sheer layers that flowed to the ground.
And what did “Ted Lasso” himself wear? Jason Sudeikis, without his character’s signature porn ‘stache, showed off his Eazy-E socks tucked under a velvet suit of blue by Tom Ford.
“It’s kind of like keeping everything in perspective,” he said.
Sudeikis’ co-star, Hannah Waddingham, was a goddess in a one-shoulder gown in soft peach.
Rodriguez paired her gown with 71 carats of Bulgari diamonds with the goal of mixing “old Hollywood with the new,” she said.
The pandemic put a damper on the Emmys last year, but fashion was back with a far smaller in-person crowd. Keri Russell dressed all the way up in a Zuhair Murad couture gown in rose mauve with feathers surrounding the hem of a caped back.
Anya Taylor-Joy, always a red carpet star from another era, wore a backless pale yellow Dior couture dress in satin with a dramatic yellow opera coat, her hair in a carefully curled updo.
“She’s like a painting,” said Andrea Lavinthal, style and beauty director for People. “Everything about her is so glamorous and elegant.”
Kathryn Hahn paired her strapless black Lanvin trouser look with an ultra-wide leather belt and statement neckless of white and green jewels. Taraji P. Henson didn’t disappoint in a sleek sheer embellished black look, her hair in a top knot.
“I have pockets,” she noted. “It always helps.”
Known for his loudly colored and patterned suits, RuPaul wore a black double-breasted jacket with a white swirl pattern on his pants, while Bowen Yang of “Saturday Night Live” rocked a pair of silver high-platform boots.
But the trend of the evening was color, color and more color.
Yara Shahidi kept her jewels to a minimum as she twirled in a princess gown of emerald green by Dior, while Kaley Cuoco brought the color in a neon yellow look by Vera Wang.
Another standout: Michaela Coel in a bright yellow bandeaux top and matching skirt as she raced inside after closing down the carpet. Issa Rae wore a custom mesh look in white from Aliette. It was a simple, sporty silhouette, with impact. In London, where most of the cast of “The Crown” gathered, Emma Corrin made a statement far from Los Angeles in a pale yellow custom Miu Miu dress with a helmet-like head piece.
There were other looks of note: Cynthia Erivo in white leather Louis Vuitton mermaid gown with a feathered hem of blue and green; Angela Bassett in body-hugging Greta Constantine in black with a bright pink ruffle traveling from top to floor; and Elizabeth Olsen with the unique privilege of wearing a white look designed by The Row, the brand of her twin sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley.
“We really loved all the bright and bold colors,” Lavinthal said. “It felt like a fun Crayola box. It certainly felt celebratory. It's nice that it wasn't this subdued and timid return to the red carpet. People seemed excited about it.”
Lavinthal also praised the men: Dan Levy in cobalt blue Valentino with a tie enclosure instead of buttons and Kenan Thompson in pink joining Sudeikis, Cedric and others who gave up the idea of a black tuxedo.
“Seth Rogan was in orange," she said. “He looked like autumn. It just needed some leaves.”
PHOTOS: Emmys 2021 red carpet
Julee Wilson, beauty director for Cosmopolitan, said she gasped when she saw Coel in her Christopher John Rogers yellow look, “but then the matching eyeliner just took it to another level.”
She added: “Her sharp buzz cut was the exclamation point. I think it's so powerful to see stars like her and Cynthia Erivo rock basically no hair on the red carpet and still slay.”
Erivo is known for her nail designs, “and of course she brought it in a set of long white claws. They weren't super embellished, but I loved that they matched her platinum buzz cut hair, which in turn all coordinated with her white gown.”
Wilson said of Taylor-Joy’s look: “Holy Hollywood! She nailed the quintessential Old Hollywood look from head to toe. Everything is perfection. I can’t stop staring at her bold crimson lip. It’s the perfect pop against her monochromatic skin and dress.”
Samantha Sutton, senior fashion editor for InStyle.com, was on board with another trend.
“One trend that stood out to me were all the long trains,” she said. “Anya Taylor-Joy, Michaela Coel, Catherine O’Hara and more wore looks that trailed behind them and seemed to sweep the red carpet.”
Sutton also loved the highlighter colors, including Cuoco and Bassett’s pink, fun ruffled detail.
Belts, she said, got one huge boost.
“Everyone will be talking about Kathryn Hahn’s extra-large version,” Sutton said.
Siriano had a huge red carpet night. In addition to Byer, he put Waddingham in her custom coral pink pleated chiffon gown, Moses Ingram in a silk charmeuse and chiffon wrap slip gown, Jennifer Coolidge in custom navy silk crepe with a cape sleeve and Carl Clemons-Hopkins in a custom silk trouser and skirt with a non-binary waist belt.
Sutton concurred with Lavinthal on the men: “They really went above and beyond the basic black tux this year.”
Adam Glassman, creative director of Oprah Daily and special correspondent for Extra TV, said there wasn't just one or two major standouts but plenty of “joy and exuberance and color and life.”
He called Siriano the "most inclusive, embracing designer out there. He's the least snobbiest designer when it comes to age and size and everything else.” While some of the celebs are ambassadors for the brands they wore (Taylor-Joy and Shahidi for Dior), Siriano welcomes everybody, Glassman said.
The pinks took it in terms of color, but so did the reds on Tracee Ellis Ross, Sarah Paulson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, he said.
And the outfit of the moment — stepping back into the light after months of seclusion — Glassman picked Olsen in her sisters' white caftan.
“A dress up, home entertaining caftan,” he said. “Perfect for the times.”