Emmys Fashion Flashback: Kate Walsh Counterbalances Her Characters With Couture

After spending so much time in scrubs as Dr. Addison Montgomery on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” actress Kate Walsh looked to the red carpet to show a different side. “Often I will dress to counterbalance the character I’m playing,” says Walsh, who subsequently sported a black robe in “Bad Judge” and more somber attire for Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” which tackles teen suicide.

“Nothing prepares you for a red carpet,” says Walsh. “I had the distinguished honor of turning up on a ‘worst-dressed’ list sometime soon after ‘Grey’s’ hit, and my friend [Corinne Kingsbury] who was styling at the time said, ‘I can help you.’ Thank God she did!” Walsh aspired to keep things modern and fresh — “to contrast the role of Addison” — and wore a glitzy Jenny Packham dress the first year “Grey’s Anatomy” contended. “It felt a little retro, and it was like wearing liquid. I felt so beautiful.” A bonus? “The designer let me keep that dress, and I have since reworked and re-worn it.”

This sleek Pamela Dennis design made Walsh feel “super sexy.” “We were having a bodycon moment; the back was super plunging,” says Walsh, who often takes inspiration from classic Hollywood films. “I grew up watching old movies of the ’30s and ’40s and fell in love with Old Hollywood glamour. The gowns, the hair and makeup, [and] the lighting were incredibly dramatic, sexy, and romantic.” Since the dress was simple, she did “a little something fun” with her hair.

“I was presenting this year and so I wanted something that would catch the light on stage,” says Walsh of this Zuhair Murad gown. “It took a village to cinch the corset, and as I was about to leave, I realized I wouldn’t be able to undo it to go to the bathroom. So my publicist had to get an extra ticket for my stylist last minute.” This look still ranks as a favorite, despite its inconveniences, though. “That’s the smile of a girl who’s breathing at 20% lung capacity!” Walsh laughs.

Walsh enjoyed the comfort of scrubs while working on Shonda Rhimes-helmed medical shows, but wearing them for nine to 10 months a year left her eager to show some personality. “Addison was very ‘East Coast fashion’ — in black a lot when she wasn’t in scrubs — so I wanted to express the lighter, summery part of myself,” says Walsh. “I love this J. Mendel dress because it was so light, fresh, effortless, and a little goddess-y.”

“My stylist [Jeff K. Kim] wanted to put me in couture because I was presenting and promoting ‘Bad Judge,’ and we wanted a contrast to the character I was playing,” says Walsh, who adored this canary-yellow Stephane Rolland Couture dress. “The color is everything, and the diamond choker was the crowning touch.”

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