As expected, the fashion at the first virtual Emmy Awards on Sunday ranged from pajama-inspired loungewear looks — including ones worn by "The Good Place" star Jameela Jamil, who showed up in slumber-party chic by L.A.-based JJwinks with a Markarian NYC ombré sequin coat over the top, and Mark Duplass ("The Morning Show"), who wore an actual pajama top under his tux jacket — to full-on red-carpet-worthy formalwear.
Three of the most memorable looks were Shira Haas ("Unorthodox") beaming in from Tel Aviv in a strapless floral Chanel gown; Yvonne Orji ("Insecure") in Atlanta in a red, liquid sequin, one-shoulder gown with crepe ruffled detailing from the fall and winter 2020 Azzi & Osta ready-to-wear collection; and Tracee Ellis Ross, one of the few to appear onstage at Staples Center in downtown L.A. alongside Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel. Ross turned out in a stunner of a tiered gold lamé halter gown from the Alexandre Vauthier fall and winter 2020 Couture collection.
The vast majority of the nominees, though, split the difference — by turning up in a slightly laid-back take on traditional formalwear. Or at least that's the way they showed up for E!'s Emmys preshow.
Jane Lynch ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel") did so literally by wearing a sparkly purple jacket up top (purple ended up being one of the evening's on-trend colors) and black pajama bottoms and black fuzzy slippers down below. As had been previously hinted at by his stylist Michael Fisher, nominee Nicholas Braun ("Succession") opted for a peak lapel Paul Smith tuxedo (in midnight blue, unless our TV colors were off, with a contrasting lapel) and a white pocket square, but for the E! preshow was without a tie, with the collar of his white dress shirt unbuttoned a few buttons. (In photos, he also appeared to be wearing Crocs.)
Tony Shalhoub ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"), who spoke with E! from Martha's Vineyard, Mass., while wearing a velvet Boglioli peak lapel tuxedo jacket and jaunty patterned ascot, said the sartorial split had been a motivating factor in his night-of look. "It was either this or pajamas and a robe," he told cohost Brad Goreski, who was dressed in Dior.
The necktie did appear to be one casualty of the night on the men's side. Dylan McDermott ("Hollywood") wasn't wearing one with his tone-on-tone ensemble, nor was Jovan Adepo ("Watchmen"), who layered his black tux jacket over a black crewneck shirt. William Jackson Harper (The Good Place") sported an ensemble including a black T-shirt with the words "Good Trouble" on the front in homage to the late Rep. John Lewis, who often used that phrase.
Harper wasn't the only one sporting a message tee at the Emmys. Emmy winner Regina King ("Watchmen") appeared onscreen from Santa Fe, N.M., wearing a fuchsia Schiaparelli suit layered over a black T-shirt bearing a picture of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed at her home by Louisville, Ky., police in March, and the all-caps words "Say her name." (The messaging wasn't limited to wardrobe either. Orji's Emmy-night look included the clenched-fist symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement shaved into the left side of her head.)
The messaging referencing racial injustice may have been most visible, but there was another awareness campaign at work at this year's Emmys — for the benefit of the nonpartisan voter registration organization When We All Vote. The outfits worn by a handful of nominees — Kerry Washington, Mahershala Ali, Ross, Mark Ruffalo, Uzo Aduba (who also appeared onscreen in a Taylor T-shirt), Braun, Issa Rae and Samira Wiley among them — are headed to the auction block (Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 at chic-relief.com), with 100% of proceeds going to that organization.
Also part of that auction is the one-of-a-kind full-on luxury pajama look worn by "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" herself, Rachel Brosnahan; a custom pair of color-blocked PJs that managed to incorporate some of the evening's most prevalent hues (purple and pink) and a festive allover print (on one panel) that included a puffball of red on a pair of showgirl-like legs.
The look stood out not only for the enthusiastic embrace of the loungewear-luxe "festive pajama" theme of the evening but also because, thanks to the beaming-in-from-elsewhere format, those were just about the only visible legs of the entire telecast.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.