Some hot fashion trends made their way to the Emmy Awards Sunday night but stars played it mostly safe with few knockout looks.
The heat in Los Angeles was certainly a factor, with many of TV's top actresses wearing their hair in updos to keep damp locks off their necks.
A very pregnant Heidi Klum certainly kept her cool in a black, formfitting strapless Marchesa gown with a mermaid hemline.
"I wanted something simple because I'm so big," she said. Her jewelry was anything but: oversized dangling earrings and a huge cocktail ring.
Marchesa actually had a trifecta of successes. Other than Klum, escorted by husband Seal, the label put Sandra Oh in a gleaming gold strapless gown with rope belt and Olivia Wilde in a ripped-from-the-runway, embroidered tulle gown. The gown worn by Wilde created the illusion of being a one-shoulder number but it was just one of several strategically placed sheer panels.
"Olivia Wilde stepped it up and made a bold statement in her Marchesa," celebrity stylist Mary Alice Stephenson said. "I love that she took a chance and went for it."
Others who chose one-shoulder gowns included Elisabeth Moss in a bronze creation by Reem Acra with a heavily embellished neckline and Sigourney Weaver in a red David Meister. Hayden Panettiere was a retro glamour girl in a red draped J. Mendel that matched her bright red lips.
Ricky Gervais joked that he wished he was wearing a toga, but instead turned up wearing a retro Rat-Pack suit by Ted Baker with oversized black lapels.
Leighton Meester contrasted her scarlet lips with a white V-neck gown by Bottega Veneta with knotted fabric on the shoulder. It was a more high-fashion look likely to cause some "do or don't" debate than the usual sparkly or sexy gowns armchair critics are used to.
Blake Lively, however, surely left more than a few watchers speechless - and smiling - with her bright-red, plunging-V Versace gown.
"She was a total goddess," said her makeup artist, Dior's Kristofer Buckle, who explained that he went with all honey colours for her face so it would not compete with the traffic-stopping dress.
Kate Walsh, in an icy-blue draped strapless gown with intricate pleating and an open back by J. Mendel, joked on E! that she got the blue-dress memo. Vanessa Williams wore a turquoise bustier gown by Rafael Cennamo; Christina Applegate was in a cowl-neck blue dress by Lebanese designer Basil Soda. Julia Louis Dreyfus' blue strapless Vera Wang gown had a tiny cutout on the bust line and a black waistband. Christina Hendricks' blue scoop-neck dress had to compete with rose-cut diamond "fern" pendant earrings from Fred Leighton.
"The highlight was all the jewelry. There were great chandelier earrings," said Carrie Ann Inaba, host of TV Guide Network's red-carpet show. "I did see a little more glitter and glamour out there, which I love."
Chandra Wilson wore a Pamella Roland black silk-faille gown with white crystal floral beading, and Amy Poehler wore a black strapless design by Reem Acra with a silver beaded leaf pattern on the bodice that she complemented with 20-carat diamond Chopard earrings, a 59-carat bracelet and 6-carat ring.
In the pink camp, were Kyra Sedgwick in a L'Wren Scott dress with a cascade of ruffles on one side of the bust line, Drew Barrymore in a princess ball gown by Raven Kauffman and January Jones in a Versace with an embroidered glass beaded bustier.
Purple also had its moments: Padma Lakshmi in a draped purple halter gown with red rosettes along the side by Badgley Mischka; and Dana Delany in a purple strapless beaded Soda gown.
Loyal Michael Kors fan Debra Messing contrasted her red hair with a ruby-coloured, one-shoulder column gown with Swarovski crystals, and Toni Collette also went red in an embroidered organza gown with a full skirt of layered ruffles by Monique Lhuillier.
Tina Fey wore a Gucci gown that was fairly conservative by Hollywood standards, while her co-star on "30 Rock," Jane Krakowski, opted for a silver Versace.
Kristin Chenoweth sported a sexy silver minidress by Zuhair Murad, Holly Hunter a beaded art deco dress, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler wore a Donna Karan gold mesh halter gown and antiqued gold Karan sandals to the Emmys.
Mariska Hargitay showed up in a Carolina Herrera silver lame gown.
"I feel like a '50s mermaid," she said. Of the lame, Hargitay, whose Fred Leighton rose-cut diamond and ruby necklace was hard to ignore, added, "What's not to love?"
There were a few male heartthrobs on the red-carpet runway, too, including Rob Lowe and Jon Hamm, who both went with classic bow-tie tuxedos - with pocket squares - while Justin Timberlake donned a white tie.
Neil Patrick Harris did his hosting duties at the Nokia Theatre ceremony in a white Dolce & Gabbana dinner jacket, and Jon Cryer returned to his Duckie days with a sweater vest by Moschino Uomo.
But stylist Stephenson said she wished more celebrities made better use of all the high fashion being offered to them and took more chances.
"Instead everyone looked nice but nice is boring," Stephenson said. "Please, can't we try a little harder?"
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