Lea Michele and Julianna Margulies shot for red-carpet fashion heights with their statement gowns at Sunday night's Emmy Awards, but there's something about movie stars that tends to upstage TV stars — even on TV's biggest night.
Kate Winslet and her red-as-the-carpet, cap-sleeve Elie Saab seemed the understated, sophisticated look until she flashed the significant cleavage on the bust line, and Gwyneth Paltrow, in a black-sequin number by Emilio Pucci, pulled off a belly baring outfit that would have made the new "Charlie's Angels" trio jealous.
Paltrow topped it off with platinum earrings by Neil Lane that boasted 7 carats of black-and-white diamonds, two platinum and diamond bracelets with a total of 100 carats, and a platinum ring with 5 carats of diamonds and black onyx. That's serious wattage.
Margulies took the biggest risk in a strapless Giorgio Armani Prive gown, with a stiff crescent-shaped bustier and embellished with clear oval stones and shimmery paillettes. It's a look that required confidence — and it's a good thing Margulies, who told E! she picked her dress late last night, has that.
"If you watch the clothes she's worn since coming back to the red carpet with 'The Good Wife,' you'll see she makes incredibly sophisticated choices and she doesn't walk around asking 175 people for their opinions," said InStyle's fashion director, Hal Rubenstein, about Margulies. "She always looks like herself. There's something very grown-up and intelligent about her."
The early online buzz was about Michele's sophisticated Marchesa dress: She wore the look of a seasoned star instead of starlet. She wore a plain-front, low draped back with rosette sleeves that really let her work the crowd. She gave fans lined up outside the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles a big wink.
If there were trends to emerge from the Emmy red carpet, it was the many red dresses worn by Michele, Nina Dobrev in Donna Karan and Sofia Vergara in Vera Wang, and the straight-from-the-runway electric blue looks. Claire Danes wore a fully beaded strapless gown in bright blue by Oscar de la Renta, Dianna Agron chose a Roksanda Ilincic and Amy Poehler was in a T-shirt-style iridescent dress by Peter Som.
Katie Holmes, one of the last arrivals, wore a blue, silk-crepe dress with a tank top and cinched waist dress designed by Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa, and Christine Baranski did sleek and chic in Zac Posen's midnight-blue, double lapel gown.
Two "Mad Men" sirens opted for sexy, beaded, head-turning looks, with Elisabeth Moss in a second-skin Marchesa and Christina Hendricks in a Johanna Johannsson with an open V-neck. "It was the only dress. I tried it on and it was perfect," Hendricks said.
Rubenstein said all the best gowns were sleek, formfitting ones. "Virtually every single woman who looked good wore a body-conscious dress," he said, ticking off favorites Winslet, Vergara and Julianne Hough in a champagne and light pink, duchess satin strapless gown by Carolina Herrera. Moss hit a personal best as did Julie Bowen in a beaded, silver lame Oscar de la Renta with a plunging neckline, he said, and the surprise was Kristen Wiig, whose deep V-neck copper gown was courtesy of Zac Posen.
"The man makes an amazing gown," Wiig said on the carpet. "I love the cut. It's comfortable and it's different. "
Some stars have been thinking about their outfits for weeks. Sarah Hyland collaborated with Christian Siriano to create her one-shoulder, coral-colored gown with a jeweled waistband. Heidi Klum trusted Siriano, a "Project Runway" alum, to come up with her mushroom-colored strapless gown with a pouffy, asymmetrical hemline.
"I love him. He's just a wonderful person. ... I like to give my designers some props," said Klum, of her "flirty" dress. "It has an old-fashioned feel but it's glamorous."
Zooey Deschanel did a little prom-queen turn in a pink strapless gown with a dropped waist and red ribbon belt.
Minka Kelly, one of those new "Charlie's Angels," is a red-carpet up-and-comer — and that meant she got to wear a navy blue-and-black gown with long lace sleeves and a lace inset at the waist by Dior. Rachael Taylor wore a light pink-and-silver beaded column dress by Armani, and Annie Ilonzeh had on a draped, wine-colored strapless goddess gown by Romona Keveza.
Ceremony hostess Jane Lynch showed a preference for purple — sporting at least three gowns in that shade by David Meister.
A handful of stars did the black thing, with Kaley Cuoco in a one-shoulder gown by Keveza, and Tina Fey in a wool-jersey gown with cap sleeves and an open neck from Tadashi Shoji.
Evan Rachel Woods did black, choosing an all-over beaded boat neck by Elie Saab. Her big bling came from her cuff bracelet, created for her by Fred Leighton, using a 19th-century diamond bow brooch.
Cat Deeley, wearing a metallic strapless Monique Lhuillier gown, wasn't all that eager to give back her $1.4 million in Bulgari jewels.
She told E!'s Ryan Seacrest, "Meet me in Rio tomorrow?"
Associated Press writers Sandy M. Cohen and Natalie Rotman, and Solvej Schou contributed to this report.