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Are Top Designers Avoiding Award Shows? And Is That Why the Dresses Are Mostly Boring or Ugly?

What do you remember most about the dresses at the Golden Globes? For us it’s that Penélope Cruz’s black frock didn’t detract from how weirdly and sadly orange her skin is; that Mariah Carey’s dress, as hers usually do, made her breasts resemble bowling balls; and that Chloë Sevigny’s dress made her look like a piece of albino seaweed. Marion Cotillard looked smashing in a fairly safe Dior gown, which was comparatively one of the least safe of the evening. Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn doesn’t think there was one standout gown of the night.

Oh, her thoughts are joyous to read. Sandra Bullock’s dress, she pontificates, wasn’t necessarily “chintzy” as some have called it, but “just badly designed.” Halle Berry’s “ill-proportioned cleavage dress,” she writes, “was a mixture of drag queen and pool hustler.” And she quotes an anonymous stylist on Christina Hendricks’s Christian Siriano number: “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress. That’s rule number one.”

She continues:

Most of the dresses last night offered little more than a paper-doll variation on styles of the past few years. A preponderance of blush pink or one-shouldered styles doesn’t point to a trend so much as reveal an ongoing problem with mediocre design. Maybe the best designers now prefer to stay away from the awards shows, and the actresses, worried about bad publicity, don’t know the difference anymore. They don’t know what it means in fashion to be playful and truly relaxed. So the dresses keep wearing them.

So she raises an interesting question: Are the best designers staying away from the awards shows? Is the fashion quality of red-carpet gowns in steady decline? Most actresses are too scared to wear anything fashionable, and therefore interesting, because America largely doesn’t understand the value in looking weird yet fabulous, which is what runway shows are all about. Most people in this country don’t get that when Marion Cotillard looks like a sparkly fish, it is divine in its oddity and not just odd. (Though Lady Gaga’s rising popularity suggests they might now appreciate a ballgown made from trash bags.)

Horyn fails to ask an important question: What does this all mean for Rachel Zoe? And her ilk? We have to wonder how celebrity stylists figure in to the current sad state of red carpets and if maybe they, more so than designers, are to blame for a lot of the bad choices. Maybe instead of stylists we should call some of them “ugly dress pushers.”

All that said, Horyn thought these ladies looked great, and we agree:

Ginnifer Goodwin, Julia Roberts, and Tea Leoni.Photo: Jason Merritt /Getty Images

The Globes: Wet and Earnest [On the Runway/NYT]
Further Reflections on a Golden “I” [On the Runway/NYT]
Related: Straight From the Red Carpet: Looks From the Golden Globes

Are Top Designers Avoiding Award Shows? And Is That Why the Dresses Are Mostly Boring or Ugly?