When They See Us: Our Stars Were Stunning at the 71st Emmy Awards

Kerry Washington, left, Billy Porter and Eris Baker
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

There were some significant—and historic—moments to celebrate at this year’s Emmy Awards (we see you, Jharrel, RuPaul and Billy!) There were some major style moments, as well (and a stunning lack of socks on male attendees, but we digress). Several of our leading lights of the small screen turned out in inimitable style for the 71st annual ceremony, which may not have had a host this year, but had no shortage of fashion statements on the Emmy Awards purple carpet.

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Of course, all eyes were once again on Billy Porter, as we were eager to see if he’d make Emmy history as the first openly gay black man to earn an acting award—and whether he’d do it wearing a suit or one of his now-legendary red carpet gowns.

While we were low-key rooting for a look with a skirt, Porter instead opted for a suit from Michael Kors Collection with rhinestone diamond-spangled pinstripes that danced in the light as he triumphantly accepted his statuette for Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Porter paired the look with peep-toe platform heels from Rick Owens, and never one to miss a moment made for drama, the actor-singer took it to the top, wearing a massive rhinestone-trimmed hat by milliner Stephen Jones (who also creates headwear for the British royal family).

Billy Porter in Michael Kors Collection and hat by Stephen Jones Millinery
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Another star making an impact on the red purple carpet? Laverne Cox, who gave us voluminous glamour in her one-shouldered, tulle-layered gown by Monsoori (seen in full in our slideshow below), but also made a statement with her custom clutch by handbag designer Edie Parker.

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Featuring the colors of the trans flag on one side and the Pride flag on the other, the purse read: “Oct. 8, Title VII, Supreme Court,” indicating the date that the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the same federal employment law banning discrimination based on sex extends to transgender status. (To be clear, our current Justice Department does not believe those same protections should apply.)

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“When I got my Emmy nomination this year, my third one, I was like ‘this is weird.’ I thought, ‘there has to be a bigger reason’ and I thought, ‘OK, maybe it’s about this case and maybe it’s about raising awareness so that everyone knows our lives are in danger,’” Cox told E! News (h/t CNN). “And a lot of people aren’t talking about this case and it has implications for the LGBTQ community, but it has implications for women and anyone who doesn’t conform to someone else’s idea of like how you should be a man or a woman or both or neither,” she added.

While When They See Us may not have swept all the categories it deserved to we hoped it would, it not only made history by making Jharrel Jerome the first Afro-Latino and youngest actor to win Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, but Ava DuVernay and the Exonerated Five won our vote for most attractive ensemble cast on the step-and-repeat.

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Antron McCay, left, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Ava DuVernay, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Flanked by friends and compatriots Antron McCay, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam, DuVernay stunned in a beaded and butter-colored custom gown by Reem Acra, while the gents gave their individual interpretations of dapper style, Wise opting to forego an evening shirt with his graphic (and intentionally oversized) jacket—but still making sure his tie matched his kicks.

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Best hair of the night? Kerry Washington, who temporarily abandoned her choppy bob in favor of a ’60-inspired bangs and ponytail look created by celebrity Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, who partnered with Tresemmé to create the look, which she broke down in detail on her Instagram.

“From the moment I saw Kerry’s [Alexander Vauthier] outfit I knew I had to give her some sexy Bridgette Bardot-style hair,” wrote Sturdivant-Drew. “I was so excited that she chose to wear something more classic and fresh rather than a standard gown for this event.”

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Another bombshell ponytail was seen on Pose’s Angelica Ross, who was given cascading waves by celeb stylist César Ramirez (who also styles Normani and gives Ciara her ever-changing looks), in partnership with Dove.

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“Angelica Ross is not only a good friend but also a brilliant actress,” said Ramirez, via a statement from Dove. “I jumped at the opportunity to work with her for this year’s Emmy Red Carpet look. Her custom Michael Costello gown was absolutely stunning with all of its intricate 3D flowers. I wanted to keep her hair young, effortless and off the shoulders to show off the full details of the gown’s structure.”

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As always, you can see Ross’ look—and all the blackest glamour from the 71st annual Emmys—in full in our slideshow below. Until next year, you’ll just have to enjoy these talents on your television!

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Corrected: Monday,9/23/19 at 12:10 p.m., ET: An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that Billy Porter’s suit was encrusted with rhinestones. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the suit was in fact embedded with 130 carats of diamonds—$55,000 worth, in fact.

I feel like people are expecting something obnoxious and grand, but I think [his look tonight is] going to be striking in a different way that just exudes class,” Porter’s stylist, Sammy Ratelle, told THR.I want to insure that, given that he’s just turning 50, this is a monumental moment for Billy and his career. Given that he were to win an Emmy award, I want to make sure that these photos are iconic for the rest of his life and history because we’re going to see them for a while.”

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.