Golden Globes 'hybrid' red carpet, from kitchen to living room, was vicarious escapism, more than a fashion statement

The virtual Golden Globes red carpet looks from home, made it seem human, rather than a calculated marketing ploy. Hence, the human desire to get dressed up was truly one of the biggest winners of the night.

The New York Times March 02, 2021 11:37:50 IST
Golden Globes 'hybrid' red carpet, from kitchen to living room, was vicarious escapism, more than a fashion statement

Actor Cynthia Erivo poses in this handout photo from the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards |Credit -.NBC

Forget the Zoom shirt; welcome to the Zoom evening gown. Also the Zoom tux.

If the Golden Globes red carpet wasn’t exactly the red carpet we were used to, nor was it the dressed-down stars-in-their-jammies-pretending-to-be-just-like-us reveal that marked the celebrity-packed fundraisers of the pandemic past. Instead, the first of the big award shows of 2021 gave us the hitherto before the unimagined — home red carpet.

Turns out you can only keep the Hollywood-fashion industrial complex down for so long. But this time, the sight of stars in their finery while in social isolation seemed less like the mercenary marketing play of old, though there was obviously some of that. (Witness the deluge of next-morning emails that landed from fashion, jewellery — and hair care! — brands touting their moments.) Instead, it was more like a statement of belief in a new day and an understanding of the value of vicarious escapism.

The red carpet as a phenomenon has had an increasingly bad name. First, thanks to the revelations around Harvey Weinstein and the abuse of power in Hollywood, symbolised in part by the objectification of women-in-gowns. And second, because of what seemed the cynical relationship between brands and celebrities, in which the latter (and their agents, managers and stylists) increasingly auctioned their appearances to the highest bidder, rather than the one whose taste they most admired.

But the pandemic has provided something of a reset, washing away some of the worst excesses of the manufactured Hollywood runway and allowing the pure pleasure of dressing up to bubble through. It was, after all, the reason everyone loved to watch those entrances in the first place.

As Laverne Cox said during the preshow segment as she posed in what she called “a standing Zoom,” the better to show off her regal red gown by Thai Nguyen, “we should have a moment.” And if not now, when? So she, and the rest of the nominees and presenters proceeded to provide one.

Golden Globes hybrid red carpet from kitchen to living room was vicarious escapism more than a fashion statement

Jasone Sudeikis wearing a tie-die hoodie while accepting the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy | Credit - NBC

Even if, as Elle Fanning acknowledged while channelling the silver screen of old in ice blue bias-draped Gucci, the back crisscrossed by jewelled straps, it existed only for the walk from the kitchen to the living room.

Maybe because it existed only for the walk from kitchen to living room. That’s what made it so effective; made it seem human, rather than calculated. It was the sight of Regina King’s dog, curled up very happily in its bed that gave her “entrance” in a futuristic silver-and-black Louis Vuitton dress an added fillip of emotion. Or the Bernie Sanders cutout visible behind Cynthia Nixon’s head as she sat patiently surrounded by family.

There were holdouts, of course: Jason Sudeikis in a tie-dye hoodie; Bill Murray in what looked like a golfing shirt. But even Jodie Foster, curled up with her wife and dog in a pair of black and white silk Prada pajamas, was channeling more of a Stork Club vibe than brushing-my-teeth-for-bed.

Also in Prada: Carey Mulligan, beaming in from a hotel in London where, nevertheless, she had put on high heels “for the first time in about eight months” to go with her duchesse satin gown, and Julia Garner, looking very Lysistrata luxe in ivory and black goddess drapes.

The mermaid gown was back, but in an entirely new way, thanks to Viola Davis and her magenta-gold-and-blue African print Lavie by CK number. So was va-va-voom power, in the form of a glinting one-shoulder Saint Laurent on Lily Collins, with a cutout at the hip; and Andra Day’s halter-neck ivory Chanel. So was the LBD — see Shira Haas in strapless mini Chanel with a chiffon train, Amy Poehler in sequined Moschino and Tina Fey in a Versace tuxedo dress (the first of three outfits she and Poehler each wore as hosts).

And so was the fairy tale frock, on Kaley Cuoco in strapless silver and Amanda Seyfried in coral with a stole of flowers shrouding her shoulders, both by Oscar de la Renta; also Rosamund Pike in a ruby tulle Molly Goddard confection.

Golden Globes hybrid red carpet from kitchen to living room was vicarious escapism more than a fashion statement

Elle Fanning, Kaley Cuoco, Amanda Seyfried

Instead of clichés, such styles suddenly seemed like long-lost old friends. Hey! So nice to see you again.

Indeed, red was the colour of the night — also seen on Salma Hayek Pinault in Alexander McQueen and Maria Bakalova in princess-style Giorgio Armani (well, if anyone just came to the ball, she did) — perhaps in a subconscious nod to the absent carpet itself. If you can’t walk it, wear it.

Or go over the rainbow. Green came through in Anya Taylor-Joy’s plunging emerald Dior slither and Cynthia Erivo’s sculpted lime Valentino, straight from the January couture runway. Yellow, courtesy of Dan Levy’s bright lemon Valentino suit with gold sequin turtleneck and Jamie Lee Curtis’ plunging sunshine silk. And purple, in Angela Bassett’s befeathered high-slit Dolce & Gabbana.

It was Jane Fonda, however, receiving her Cecil B. DeMille award with a powerful speech about change, who summed up the night with a white trouser suit straight from her closet, a nod to her decision in 2019 to stop buying new clothes and, given the meaning of the white pantsuit in current political culture, her own history as an activist. She looked elegant while she looked to the future.

And thus the human desire to get dressed up, once again on display despite everything, was one of the biggest winners of the night.

Vanessa Friedman c.2021 The New York Times Company

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