Awards season outfits review


Kendra Williams walks us through what makes a good red carpet outfit and some of the best of the season.

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Image by photo by Alan Light

By Kendra Williams

With awards season coming to a close, I thought what better time to review some of this year's red carpet looks to figure out what makes a good awards show outfit, and who nailed it at this year's shows.

Before I walk you through some of the most beautiful looks, let’s take a moment to think about what makes a good award ceremony outfit.

Whilst I have never been to a massive international awards ceremony, I presume that there are some considerations on behalf of the wearer. Practicality maybe? Comfort? Yet what most often seems to be the case is a desire to reinforce your brand. This is what is called your ‘style identity.’

Are they going for timeless, Hollywood beauty? Do they opt for something more grungy and edgy? Are they trying to make a statement? Having a consistent style identity between red carpets is really important, for both the celebrity and us as their fans – it allows us to connect with their specific personality and intentions. Often celebrities who have really distinct style identities result from partnerships with stylists or designers. Think Dua Lipa and Versace.

Another thing I always look out for is coherence within a look. Does the headpiece look like it should go with a totally completely different outfit? Do the shoes and accessories match? This isn’t to say that I don’t believe in clashing colours, patterns and materials, but it’s more that I want to know the stylist’s point of view and how it all connects as a total look, not just its component parts.

Beyond that, as a lowly spectator, I love seeing ingenuity, innovation and something memorable. I’m very rarely blown away by the endless lines of men in tuxedos.

Now we know what we’re looking for, let's dive in.

The best dressed for me at the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) awards and the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards was, of course, Zendaya. There aren’t enough words available in this article to talk about my devotion to this woman, but let it be known that it is intense. At the SAG awards Zendaya wore a pink couture Valentino ball gown with classic, Hollywood makeup and a gorgeous Bulgari necklace, reportedly worth over $2 million. At the NAACP awards she wore a plunging vintage Versace gown with beautiful green accents. The dresses, whilst both innovative and memorable, clearly come from the same stylistic world. Looking at her outfits, you are not only impressed by Zendaya’s beauty, but the outfits tell you who she is and how she wants to be seen. Ingenuity and coherence: stunning.

Now from a longstanding darling of my affections to my new love: Jenny Slate. Again, I am incredibly biassed here and I think that Jenny Slate deserves every award on the planet for her work on Marcel  The Shell With Shoes, but we also have a brilliant look from her at the SAG awards. Here we can see another goal of the red carpet outfit; uniqueness. How many times have you seen a simple black gown and felt exhausted? Well look no further than Miss Slate’s plunging black gown revealing a jewelled bra. Paired simply with no jewellery, the bra is was the centrepiece. Inventive and glamorous: I loved this look.

Last but not least, we of course have to talk about Sam Smith at the BRITS. Now whether this look was to your taste or not, it certainly made waves. In case you are not as chronically on Twitter as I am, I will remind you. Sam Smith wore an inflatable latex jumpsuit with huge pads on the knees and shoulders. The look was designed by HARRI, the emerging label lead by the British-Indian designer Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, who is known for his controversial, surrealist silhouettes. This look sparked huge controversy on the internet and was mocked by the likes of Ricky Gervais. However, I’m a huge fan of this look because it does exactly what it’s intended to. It aligns Smith with the likes of Bowie and Prince, who were constantly controversial and innovative with their style choices. There’s also something symbolic to be said for the fact that as a non-binary performer Smith doesn’t hide themselves on the red carpet but actually uses this look to take up the literal and figurative space they are being denied. It's a yes from me.