The red carpet, at its worst, is predictable. How many variations on a bejeweled strapless gown can exist in this world? It turns out beauty is sometimes boring, and in the pursuit of perfection on the red carpet, celebrities can sacrifice the qualities that make their looks memorable. Charm. Intrigue. A little weirdness.
Luckily, when it comes to second-tier awards shows, like Sunday night’s Critics’ Choice Awards, nominees seem more willing to take risks. Here are a few of the best decisions of the night.
Elle Fanning Ripped It Up
If the red carpet had one dominant trend, it was beautiful blond women wearing sheer-ish cream-colored dresses. (Hello to Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Hudson and Milly Alcock.)
But within that trend, Ms. Fanning set herself apart, in a slashed Alexander McQueen off-white floral gown. It had just one loosened shoulder strap, and a few tears in its large hoop skirt, plus one diagonal rip across the abdomen. She looked like a bride forced into battle midway through her vows, a story that happens to align with her role as an embattled queen on “The Great.”
Danielle Deadwyler Played With Texture
There’s nothing really unusual about a silver sequined dress on a red carpet. But look closer at these sequins, hand-embroidered by Louis Vuitton: They’re kind of huge and thickly layered. Look long enough and you start to feel an impulse to run your fingers through them, as if they were fur. You can almost hear the ASMR of sequins and crystals lightly clicking against one another. That’s texture!
(It should be noted that Louis Vuitton pulled a similarly clever sensory trick with Aubrey Plaza’s custom sequined gown, which had several layers of delicate fabric zigzagging at the bust, creating a sunset illusion in dégradé.)
Michelle Yeoh Turned Up the Volume
Few accessories build more drama than a cape, let alone a ruffled fuchsia cape. But Ms. Yeoh’s large fluttering sleeves also created a wavy silhouette we don’t often see on the red carpet. She balanced the perky grandeur with a plain black column dress — the full look came from Carolina Herrera — along with pulled-back hair and a bare neck. (Going necklace free seems to be a growing trend, if looks from last week’s Golden Globes were any indication.)
Cate Blanchett Made Choices With Fabric
Who else but Ms. Blanchett could pull off this monochromatic shirt-and-skirt look? It’s the color of creamy oat milk, in a fabric that appears to be linen — unwrinkled linen! — with a fringed hem that kissed the red velvet carpet. If Elle Fanning was channeling her Catherine the Great role, Ms. Blanchett was doing the opposite in her Max Mara set. The exacting, severe Lydia Tár could never look this effortless.