The actresses at the Golden Globes may have enrobed themselves like goddesses, but they were eager to remind viewers that they have feet of clay.
"You know I had a baby five weeks ago," Rosamund Pike, the English star of Gone Girl, said rather plaintively to that practiced E! smoothie Ryan Seacrest, her hand hovering with a vestigial protectiveness over her midriff. She was wearing a white Vera Wang dress that hung a little low on her torso, with strings at the back, like a paper-doll cutout, and a thousand online knives were already out.
Speaking of her own cross-haltered and well-fitted Michael Kors dress, Emily Blunt of Into the Woods said, "It's a little soggy at the bottom," endearingly managing Seacrest's expectations. Her dress was also white, with a solar plexus-baring triangle, and she wore an up-do braided as if she'd just tramped in through the mud from her role as the Baker's Wife.
"They're actual feathers - I could fly away!" said Claire Danes of Homeland (wishful thinking, perhaps?), describing to the host some of the many embellishments on her Valentino gown, which, like Into the Woods, conjured something of Bruno Bettelheim's "The Uses of Enchantment": sapphire-blue, emerald-green and ballet-pink glowing on a base of black.
Though these gowns retail for more than many American mortals earn in a year - that's if they are put on store's racks at all; most are snatched by stylists straight from designers' ateliers - several stars conveyed earthy folksiness. "Apparently it took 30 people to make this in a week," a pregnant Keira Knightley of The Imitation Game, said of her ruffle-trimmed, insect-printed Chanel frock. "What if I spill something down it or I rip it?" (Surely the large butterfly she wore on her wrist would slurp up any wayward nectar.) Kristen Wiig, a presenter, wore a white peasant dress by Delphine Manivet, and Ruth Wilson, of the Showtime series The Affair, wore a grassy-green Prada column with stripes thrown casually hither and yon. Lupita Nyong'o, in Giambattista Valli couture, looked like a lilac plucked out of a Mother's Day bouquet.
But among the arrivals pawing apologetically at the ground, there was also plenty of sparkle and good old-fashioned unapologetic glam-hamming. Jennifer Lopez wore a beige Zuhair Murad dress covered in silver crosshatching whose neckline stopped just short of the record-setting plunge of the green Versace she wore to the 2000 Grammys. Julianne Moore, in Givenchy, and Jennifer Aniston, in Saint Laurent, also chose glitter (and feathers, too, in Moore's case), though they balanced these flash-grabbing fabrics with modest bib fronts.
Aniston also took the time to have her hair, perhaps the most scrutinized since Rapunzel's, styled into a tight chignon - thus sparing herself the hisses heaped upon those who chose the admittedly more shopworn Rita Hayworth waves.
Draping is a classic-Hollywood technique - indeed a classic Greek technique - that felt somewhat fresher here. Among those to display it was Naomi Watts, wearing a yellow strapless dress by Gucci with two striking accessories: a diamond Bulgari snake necklace, as if to ward off the backbiters of Sony, and the dramatically arching eyebrow of her husband, actor Liev Schreiber. Though one might expect Amy Adams, front row at Gucci's spring show in Milan, to also choose a gown from that house, she decided on draped periwinkle Versace instead. Jessica Chastain's dress, a bronze variation of the gold-pleated William Travilla one that Marilyn Monroe wore in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," was also by Versace.
Though it's been on shaky ground in recent years, the house of Zac Posen also had a successful night, outfitting Christine Baranski of Into the Woods in a plum gown with clavicle cutouts, Katherine Heigl of State of Affairs in trumpet-hemmed navy blue, and Lena Dunham, in simple red satin baring the tattoos on her back. Also in red was Dunham's colleague, Allison Williams, though her ridged Armani Prive made that starlet, who recently played Peter Pan, look as if she'd flown down from a recently shelved box of Christmas ribbons.