In Defense of Zoe Saldana's Golden Globes Dress

by Maggie Dolan / Photo by
At last night's Golden Globes, actress Zoe Saldana wore a custom made dress by her friend and New York designer (and former PAPER Beautiful Person) Prabal Gurung. The collaged-creation took an instant beating from the Twitter-verse, destined to today's worst-dressed lists, and despite a few champions like VOGUE and...well, me, that's exactly where it ended up.

Although she's frequently front row at fashion week and celebrated as a style-icon, landing on an Awards show worst-dressed list isn't anything new for Saldana -- I think her purple Givenchy  dress for the 2010 Oscars is still receiving shade -- but it's also a sign that she knows exactly what she's doing. From designer to silhouette, Saldana's red carpet game is a mesmerizing display of bold, unpredictable choices that make you think twice about what you really want from red carpet dressing. Filed in the same risk-taking camp as Diane Kruger, Marion Cotillard, Charlize Theron or the incomparable Cate Blanchett, Saldana's looks always pack a punch that horrify or delight, depending on how you look at them.

Girl has tried everything from suggestive cutouts, sheer paneling, overflowing ruffles, eye-grabbing colors or prints, crop tops to asymmetrical silhouettes. She wears off the beaten-red carpet designers like Rodarte, Givenchy and Alexis Mabille. And she does it all with grace and elegance.  

I understand the immediate backlash to Saldana's Globes dress' combination of epileptic embellishment, shark fin decolletage, and geometric paneling -- there was A LOT going on there -- but it fit impeccably, her hair and make up were flawlessly understated, a necessary move in such a lively look, and she balanced the dress' eye-grabbing display with effortless poise, which is something even the most successful stylist can't fake. 

I'll take an unexpected, cuckoo cocktail number over a T. Swift Old Hollywood glam snooze fest any day. Saldana might be making worst-dressed rankings, but who's talking about Taylor Swift's Carolina Herrera (god bless your unparalleled taste for elegance) philanthropic prom dress? No one. Being boring is more of a kiss of death on the red carpet then any well-styled wild card, and that's the game Saldana plays.         

I dream of a day when red carpets are full of fashion-crazy chicness like Rick Owens, Roksanda Ilincic, Dries van Noten or John Paul Gaultier. But those designs take a specific type of person to make them succeed on the red carpet, and let's face it, most actresses probably punctuate their dreams of Hollywood success with an award show debut in the typical Garbo waves and a strapless Oscar de la Renta ballgown. So for now, it's important to cheer on the risk takers, the unconventional because for every one of those, there's ten others perpetuating red carpet conventionality. Shying away from the predictable, Saldana gives you something no one else is doing, and to me, that's style. 

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