Emmy Nominees Still Lean On Stylists For Their Virtual Awards Night Looks

Rachel Brosnahan
Vince Bucci/Invision/AP

As the Emmys prepares to unfurl the first virtual red carpet Sunday night, nominees and presenters are reimagining what it means to dress for a major awards show from the comfort of their own living rooms, with or without the help of a celebrity stylist.

“Come as you are, but make an effort!” was the dress code outlined in a letter from the show’s host, Jimmy Kimmel, and exec producers on the heels of this year’s nominations—and one that stylists including Chloe Hartstein, who is dressing “Glow” star Betty Gilpin, have taken to heart.

“It feels nice to be in a creative space again,” says Hartstein, who began discussing options with her client as soon as nominations were announced earlier this summer.

“We’re being super open-minded about it, and I think everyone is feeling a certain way, emotional about getting dressed again I think, just because we’ve all been in sweats and t-shirts for the last six months,” adds Hartstein, whose conversations about Emmy looks with Gilpin, who is nominated for best supporting actress in a comedy series, ran the gamut from political to glamourous. Eventually they landed on a Zoom-appropriate, waist-up look that’s “casual and making a statement,” she says.

Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson, the styling team behind Rachel Brosnahan — once again nominated for her role in Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — also seized the opportunity to think outside the box with their client, who stepped out on last year’s red carpet in a navy asymmetrical sequined Eli Saab Haute Couture gown.

“We had so much fun with this because every year, it’s kind of same hat, trying to reinvent the wheel. This year we got to really just be playful with it,” explains Johnson of Brosnahan’s loungewear-inspired look — a theme other nominees are expected to embrace as well. “We are also going a little more playful with jewelry, and there’s a philanthropic element as well,” says Lincoln.

“We have had an influx of requests from stylists across the board for dressing,” concurs designer Morgan Lane, whose namesake luxury sleepwear brand is beloved by the likes of Laura Dern, Harry Styles and the Kardashians, and who foresees the new Emmy dress code as having long-lasting impact on red-carpet fashion. “I do believe that the move towards accepting luxury loungewear as an option outside of the pandemic is inevitable as our style has become more and more casual over the years,” adds Lane, noting that her brand is currently experiencing the highest e-commerce sales it’s ever had for this time of year.

Meanwhile, unlike years past when working with a stylist for awards shows has been standard practice, many nominees are opting to dress themselves. “Out of the nine guys nominated that I work with on a pretty regular basis, only two of them—and one of them is new — want to do any fittings,” notes stylist Michael Fisher, who is working with nominees Nicholas Braun, and Ramy Youssef, a first-time client. “A lot of the actors want to take it easy, not take it so serious maybe. Everyone has different levels of what they are comfortable with, and what they want to deal with right now. I think a lot of guys just said, I can dress this out of my closet.

“We don’t have to do a fitting, we don’t have to risk anyone getting exposed to COVID. It’s much different than a regular awards season.”

Braun, who picked up his first Emmy nomination for his supporting actor role in HBO’s “Succession,” decided on a the more traditional tuxedo (“with a funny bent to it,” says Fisher), while Youssef, who will Zoom into the ceremony from his backyard, “wanted to go more casual, something more authentic to who he is,” notes the New York-based stylist.

But no matter the dress code, it’s a long-awaited win for brands looking for opportunities to collaborate with stylists and talents after a pandemic-induced red carpet dry spell. “As soon as the nominations came out, I was getting e-mails from brands saying, “We are here to help you, we are open,” says Fisher. Adds Hartstein: “Brands are happy to support us, and happy to support talent because that’s how they function, no matter what the situation is in the world.”

And there’s a silver lining for stylists and talent, too. “No one has to go on a diet. You don’t have to worry about zippers breaking,” jokes Lincoln.