Kerry Washington in Marchesa at the 2013 Emmy Awards

Posted on September 23, 2013

Princess Kerry requests that you curtsy in her presence.


“Scandal” star Kerry Washington attends the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California in a Marchesa dress paired with an Edie Parker clutch, a Movado watch, and Fred Leighton jewelry.

Marchesa Spring 2014 Collection

The reason Kerry Washington is important, and the reason someone like Diahann Carroll practically genuflected before her last night, is because, like Carroll did in her heyday, Kerry tends to upend our culture’s expectations of how a beautiful woman of color is supposed to look. She does the full-on fashionista thing, which is huge in a lot of ways because that world is still largely cut off from women of color, as evidenced by their near total lack on the runways and magazine covers. This is in contrast to, say, Beyonce, who is more in line with the kind of women of color who tend to get celebrated for their beauty. Kerry’s style isn’t Beyonce’s “Look how gorgeous, sexy, and fierce I am.” It’s a more Vogue-approved “Look at the incredible taste I have, as well as the skill I have in wearing these garments. Look at how chic I am.”

We don’t want to over-analyze it. She’s just being who she is and following her own personal taste (as well as, presumably, the guidance of a style team). And this is not a way of saying that Kerry’s style is somehow better than Beyonce’s. It’s just that she’s walking smoothly and confidently into the welcoming arms of the fashion world, WERQing a Marchesa gown or Chanel dress or two along the way, and causing a minor sensation. We’re not talking about Iman or Naomi Campbell here. We’re talking about an African-American network TV star landing on the cover of Vogue and having the top designers in the world begging her to wear their wares. It’s notable.

As for the dress, you either love or hate this kind of extreme romanticism in the Marchesa style. We think it works like crazy for Kerry. The bodice looks a little over-worked (all that ribbon and the foofaraw at the bustline), but the skirt is gorgeous.




[Photo Credit: Jennifer Graylock/, Jason Merritt/Getty Images, IMAXtree]

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  • Mighty close to WERQ level.

    • MoHub

      I’d definitely call this a WERQ, although I have to wonder how she managed to walk in it.

    • I wish her lips had a little color but agreed pretty darn close to a work. You do forget how gorgeous she really is when not in Mad Men get up.

  • Still hate the hair. Mermaid hair only works on cartoon characters–and though she played Velma once, she still doesn’t qualify as a Mermaid Hairess.

    Love the color of the dress, though. She looks great, despite the hair.

  • anabel22

    Best dressed

  • JoDo11

    Why the lipstick phobia? It just looks unfinished to me.

    • MilaXX

      There were a lot of nude lips last night.

    • UsedtobeEP

      I think almost any shade would clash with that dress, and if you matched it perfectly, well then oops.

  • Trickytrisha

    For such a petite woman, she’s really carrying this one off nicely. Love the color, love her, and oh my, do I love those earrings!

  • MilaXX

    This is very pretty. I’m also not a fan of the mermaid hair, but this look as a whole works.

  • Jessica Freeman

    I love the dress, but it’s wearing her. She looks stunning from the neck up.

    • Imasewsure

      That’s what I felt too. Pretty – but more of a costume than it should be.

  • Tom Shea

    I love mermaid hair. She looks great.

  • marigi

    It’s very pretty, but the origami up front looks like labia. Not that it’s a bad thing.

    • KudzuJulep

      Thank you.

    • Constant Reader

      Now I can’t un-see it.

    • claudemtl777

      I was gonna say vulvish…

      • I was going with Georgia O’Keeffe. Potayto potahto.

    • LauraAgain

      I thought of a rose.

      • mlle

        A lady garden.

  • KudzuJulep

    She looks goregous, but my first thought when I saw it was, “Vagina Dress.” Donna Karan Atelier Fall 2013 collection, inspired by the works of Georgia O’Keeffe.

  • Jacquelyn

    Love the color. Hate the folds and the hair. And wow…you take her out of the late 1960s rich housewife costume and she’s actually very pretty.

  • marlie

    I love this, head to toe. The dress is lovely, even with the origami details. The color is outstanding and the fit is perfection. The earrings were an inspired choice, and I don’t even mind the mermaid hair. Brava, Linda!

  • MarissaLG

    On the radio this morning, they described this dress as looking like “purple lady parts” but I don’t really agree. I think she looks gorgeous.

  • Erica_Vuitton

    LOOOOVE those earrings!! And the color is just gorgeous. I’d like the actual dress itself better with a few less ruffles or a smaller train but it’s certainly very pretty.

  • Loola234

    If bold colors = no lipstick, I’ll take bland colors and good lippy!! At least the head will look great, even if the dress is meh.

  • Adrianna Grężak

    Normally I don’t care for the mermaid hair, but in this case it’s at least intentional and thought out. (I’m assuming the intention is to balance the specific direction of the dress’s waves)

  • The dress is gorgeous. Hate the hair.

  • PeggyOC

    Go Rebecca Rose Rushmore!

  • nptexas

    No visible tattoos. Always a good decision IMO.

    • largishbearishAtlish

      wow, never thought about that…(except for the Osbourne girl whose name I am blanking on)

    • shirab

      Refreshing. Also, totally unblemished back. How is that possible? The stars, they are different from us.

      • Based on a friend’s wedding plans, it involves fortnightly back masques for 6 months.

  • Alexander Peterhans

    Her hair is incredibly distracting.

  • paginatrix

    Yes. The earrings.

  • paginatrix

    Oh. And she’s been my very best friend ever since “Freaks and Geeks,” so I’m thrilled to see her looking so fine.

    • kimmeister

      She is almost unrecognizable here from her F&G days.

    • Kristin McNamara

      And see, here I am, never having gotten over my irrational hatred for her because she was the one who broke up Cory and Topanga! (I know it was a character and not her, but that fact doesn’t seem to penetrate my brain long enough to ever forgive her….)

  • A Shiny O’Connor

    Clutch is a horrible choice for such a gorgeous dress – and gal.

  • ashtangajunkie

    The earrings are my favourite part of the look and I covet them so very much. The entire look is lovely though – the colour is beautiful on an already gorgeous lady.

  • largishbearishAtlish

    I really like the hair, the dress in front is just a bit too busy/movey for me. The lip color is a bit washed out. Love the over the shoulder pic with the earing is a knockout!

  • tereliz

    WANT those earrings! She looks great and that color is just WOW!

  • Heather

    This raspberry color always reads “bridesmaid” to me.

  • LipstickForPigs

    The fabric that was used for the detail was a bit too thick, that’s why it looks like flappy engorged labia to me. I bet if they had lessened the weight of the detailing it would have had lovely movement.

  • Eva_baby

    The dress is dramatic both in color and style. But honestly, I think the hair just took the look to the next level. I don’t think this would have looked as good without the hair.

  • NYCGlamourpuss

    Nicely done, Chutney!

  • LauraAgain

    I love everything! She most definitely looks young and fun here. My only complaint: I would have made up her eyes look a bit more dramatic, to stand out more against her hair.

  • shelbywoo

    Oh HAI Sophia Vergara! And nope, not an insult.

  • mozzer0906

    Great color, great fit, but I can’t help but look at the front folds of the dress and think vagina lips.

  • Lily-Rygh

    I don’t love this dress — I think it’s overwhelming her a bit — but still, you gotta applaud on behalf of all the Freaks and Geeks!

  • LadyLuck777

    The back is gorgeous. The front ruffle makes the back fan out a bit and reminds me of a manta ray underwater – just flowy and smooth.

  • decormaven

    So glad she switched it up- and turned up the volume- over the previous look on this site. I almost wish the hair had been worn up- with such a small frame, the hair is almost taking over. Definite snaps for those earrings!

  • Miss Jen K

    I super-like how the hair flows the opposite way of the dress, very yoga-like. (You twist one way, well, you have to twist the other, just to even everything out!)

    Just one of those tiny details that make me smile.

  • sagecreek

    A WERQ for me.

  • Danielle

    Personal best?

  • DTLAFamilies

    I’ve loved her since Freaks and Geeks. She’s never quite taken off in her career and I can’t figure out why because she’s pretty and incredibly talented.

  • stubbornthoughts

    I love everything about this except for the folded vagina at the front of her hips.

  • Cheryl

    Love it, origami folds and all.

  • ChelseaNH

    I’d prefer a little more color in the face, and the hair confined in a sleeker way. But those are minor points.

  • ballerinawithagun

    I almost thought it was a restrained Marchesa, but it was too well done. This color is sensational. She deserves to show off her beautiful hair since she can’t on Mad Men. All of the labia comments are just ridiculous!!!

  • Meredith

    I’m going to guess you like the hair because the wave matches the wave in the dress. It’s not too much, too little or too curly or stringy, it is like exactly the same as the dress.

  • Shawn EH

    She looks how Jessica Biel always tries too hard to look.

  • Qitkat

    While I’ll never understand how anyone walks alone, without minions, trailing so much volume behind them, I agree that this dress is a knockout, a Werq, in my opinion. She is so stunning, the best I’ve ever seen her.

  • CatherineRhodes

    Wonderful to see an actress who’s not botoxed and filled to the point of looking alien. Ladies, a few lines and dimples add character to the face and make you more attractive!

  • CommentsByKatie

    Yes! I love me a ladypart fold dress! They are a little bit worn out on the red carpet, but this one is definitely coming to life. The way it drapes on the ground in the first picture is EVERYTHING. I don’t like the hair, but that’s my only complaint. Who knew Sylvia was such a knockout!?

  • MartyBellerMask

    Perfect. Love it. Love it.

  • mhleta

    Wowza. Channeling Rita Hayworth here, big time, and that is something I never thought she’d be capable of. (I still see her as Lindsay Weir most of the time.) Well played.

  • procrastinatrice

    DAMN GIRL. Count me impressed. Very impressed. I love this dress and think she looks spectacular. My only quibble is the earrings–I am not sure they go here, but they are by no means awful.

  • e jerry powell

    There was much too much mermaid everything last night. I was about to start stabbing couch pillows because of it.

  • bertkeeter

    I’m OVER the big gown looks…especially with trains! By the end of the night she will be cursing her stylist that put her in that thing!

  • Barbara Thomas

    Origami skirts are the new vagina hats. (I miss Musical Mondays)

  • jjtxgrrl

    Love her. Love. Her. Love that dress. Love the hair and makeup. Love.

    So basically, I Guess its alriiiight. Heh.

  • VicD

    Yeah, I don’t love any of the parts, but the whole really comes together.

  • I’ve been watching a lot of Freaks and Geeks lately. She is aging so incredibly gracefully.

  • Iroqhard

    SHE IS SO PRETTY. Look at her skin- like all her skin is SO SMOOTH. Whatever she is doing, it is working. GORGEOUS.

  • Lauren Hall

    You GO Lindsey Weir!!

  • Trickytrisha

    I can see her in a beautifully styled photo shoot, in this dress, having tea in a beautiful English garden, graciously chatting with the dolls and stuffed animals that are seated around the table. There would be deer in the background and bunnies, and maybe a fairy or two flitting around. In other words, yes…this is a fairytale dress and she’s just simply perfect.

  • Lauren Hall

    She looks better than the model! The color looks much better on her skintone, it looks like dirty underthings on the model.

  • prettybigkitty

    She gorgeous, and looks gorgeous. But the dress is still classic Marcheesa – overdone and tacky. Despite her best effort to make it work.

  • kalisa

    Oh, I am TOTALLY saying Kerry’s style is better than Beyonce’s.

  • eight_of_nine

    This dress is nothing I would ever wear in a million years, but she looks stunning. Love it on her!

  • Great analysis. I appreciate that you cover women and men of various colors and body types. Even though Marchesa tends to make me groan, Washington looks stunning in this gown. She and Hendricks were the best of the evening.

  • Fred Vaughn

    It works for her… and she wuz ROBBED, BTW.

  • Mariah J

    It seems like it would be too fru fru but it works for her.

  • Alloy Jane

    I hate that dishwater is a color people wear on purpose. For all its fluff and fancy, this dress looks good on Kerry, or as good as it would on an adult. This is absolutely something a little girl should wear on a trip to disneyland. Well, with the necessary adjustments of length and… Nope, all you need to do is trim the train and it’s perfect for an 8-yr-old Odette.

  • quiltrx

    It’s beautiful, if a little precious for this event. I think it looks much better without the train on the model (or maybe the train is just behind the model).

  • Josefina Madariaga Suárez

    Gotta love a gal who knows the power of style when it comes to promote her work.

  • Aaminah Khan

    Love this and love her.

  • macostacruz

    Culture critics who analyse the intricacies of women of color in the media have been SERVED by TLo!

  • berlinmama

    WERK personafied

  • kolokOlchik

    She is probably the only woman on whom this overworked crap that Marchesa puts out actually looks regal and elegant. Boys, you are absolutely right.