Has the Tony Awards red carpet ever generated as much buzz as it did this year? Granted, the bar was set fairly low, but thanks to the commanding influence of KCD, Anna Wintour, Vogue, Teen Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as an exceptionally photogenic guest list (read: models and movie stars) and a well-lit wall of shrubbery, the red carpet Sunday night certainly had an unmatched air of glamour and excitement.
All the nominees received professional styling advice — and it showed. Gone were the mermaid dresses of Wintour's nightmares. Instead, the predominant trend among the theater crowd was body-flattering dresses in rich jewel tones. No one went overboard with hair, makeup or accessories. Of course, not everyone was a best dressed list shoe-in: For every nominee, there were 10 other obscure attendees that had been left to their own devices wearing a range of unremarkable black tie fare that might have not passed muster in Wintour's eyes.
But soon we would watch as the fashion crowd invaded the event, creating a sense of CFDA déjà vu when the Public School boys, with model Grace Mahary as their date, followed such Meta Gala-esque pairings as Francisco Costa and Kendall Jenner, Prabal Gurung and Bella Hadid, Joseph Altuzarra and Vanessa Axente, and Wes Gordon and Constance Jablonski.
But no other designer came close to as many credits as Zac Posen. He dressed seven women for the evening: host Kristin Chenoweth in two looks, as well as Judy Khun (nominee), Annaleigh Ashford (winner), Debra Messing (presenter), Jennifer Grey (presenter) and Laura Michelle Kelly (guest). Posen arrived with the legendary actress Bernadette Peters as his date, cementing his status as the designer of the evening.
Nominated "Fun Home" actress Emily Skeggs was one of the young actresses styled by Teen Vogue's Andrew Bevan. She wore a black, strapless Christian Siriano dress with a voluminous skirt, all covered in bright turquoise leaves, with earrings by Eva Fehren. “We were like kindred spirits, he's such an amazing goof,” Skeggs said of Bevan. “I had no expectations at all. I wanted to put something on and if I felt good in it, I felt good.”
Meanwhile, "Hand to God" nominee Sarah Stiles had received the Vogue treatment. "They pinned and tucked and it was amazing," said Stiles, who ended up in a magenta J.Mendel dress and green clutch. "I feel like a flower and this feels like a petal." Her silver strappy heels, hidden under the long fabric, were her own, however. The samples were too big for her size 5.5 feet so she "did a little emergency shoe shopping" at Topshop on Saturday.
Another presenter, James Monroe Iglehart, who plays the Genie in "Aladdin," also had a successful shopping trip of his own. He wore a silver Tallia Orange jacket from Rochester Big and Tall, featuring a pattern of small circles and squares, a red pocket square and diamond stud earrings.
"Other designers kind of feel like guys my size shouldn't look too great, and I feel like I should look dapper no matter how large I am," he said. "Those wonderful people at the Big and Tall shop make some amazing clothes, so I can look as spectacular as I do right now."
The evening certainly showed that the great effort taken to spruce up the annual event's red carpet paid off, but there is still work to be done.
Before the telecast began, with the audience already in their seats, American Theatre Wing chair and costume designer William Ivey Long addressed the crowd, thanking the red carpet partners and asking what everyone thought of the arrivals. Met with lukewarm applause, he responded, "Looks like we've got some work to do!"
See the best red carpet looks from the 2015 Tony Awards below.