There is something innately relaxing about going to a Naeem Khan show. His stock-in-trade is Things That Are So Very, Very Pretty; ergo, instead of stressing out that you’ll be confronted with, say, rubberized rompers or hats made of panties, you can sit back and gawk at the dreamy, sparkly gowns tailor-made for your lusty inner magpie. But it’s even more relaxing when you’re doing all this across the runway from Bryant Gumbel, whose unexpected presence in Khan’s front row on Tuesday afternoon exuded a weirdly intellectual calm. The effect of watching him study each gown over the tops of his spiffy reading specs made the whole thing feel like a scholastic exercise — a field trip to the Met with your favorite college professor, or a really unusual episode of Real Sports. We only wish his brother Greg would’ve been there, so we could’ve called the venue a Gumbel Machine. Next time.
Gumbel sat two berths down from the preternaturally relaxed Padma Lakshmi, and across the venue from actresses Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf), Jordana Brewster, and Madisen Beaty — the latter pair having done impressive quick-changes from the Jenny Packham front row moments before. This season’s busiest guest, Sanya Richards-Ross, arrived in a dress whose thigh slit was so high it was really more of a chasm. And Julianne Hough, refreshingly sans extensions in her flattering, choppy bob, cheerfully answered questions about her various hairstyles: “Oh, I’ve been everything — red, brown, blonde … ” she listed, before citing blonde as her favorite. We also heard her and Jenna Dewan Tatum — herself recently blonde for a role — cooing over each other’s respective dos. “Maybe we should switch,” joked Hough, pointing at Jenna’s chestnut ponytail. Eh, maybe try it with Photoshop first.
When you’re married to Channing Tatum — suddenly an It Guy so potent that he’s even dulled the Ryan Gosling fervor — we imagine there’s a certain amount of pressure to dress the part. Dewan-Tatum seemed up to the task. Her low-cut black-and-white beaded dress was gorgeous (and probably taped in place, due to the quantity of cleavage), and she seemed to enjoy ogling the gowns even more than Mr. Gumbel did, if such a thing is possible. She told reporters that she lives by the old “take one thing off before you leave” style adage, and said she’s been proud of, rather than weirded out by, Channing’s heartthrob status. “It’s just great that people are appreciating everything he can do, and seeing in him what I’ve always seen. So I love that he’s [in posters] on people’s walls,” she said, adding jokingly, “Obviously he’s on my wall.” She did say they’ve been trying to carve out some time for “sexy fun nights together” when they’re not both working — which at one point apparently included him watching her cry over The Notebook — and that she’s been excited for her latest project, American Horror Story’s second season, to premiere. Sing it, sister. We’ve been jonesing for more brilliantly batty Jessica Lange since the credits rolled on the end of last season. “Yes. YES,” Dewan-Tatum said, widening her eyes and getting a little breathless. “I was blown away by her. I think she’s phenomenal. I got a little starstruck around her, like, I don’t know what to say to you — you’re amazing.” Maybe just start by putting a poster of her on your trailer wall, Jenna, and see if that breaks the ice.