This year, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 37, received her seventh consecutive Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress (she won in ’96). And because the Sept. 13 ceremony is the summit of the 5’3″ Seinfeld star’s fashion year, she takes choosing a dress seriously. “We start a couple of months ahead of time,” says her personal stylist, Cary Fetman. “She’s fast. There’s no hemming and hawing. This year’s going to he very sexy. She really wants to do something in color.” For her part, Louis-Dreyfus says with a wink, “I’m going to do something very different. I may come out in a Statue of Liberty outfit.” Here, in her own words, the actress fondly recalls her past frocks—and follies.
The idea was to look as thin as possible because I’d just had a baby [son Henry, with producer-writer husband Brad Hall, was born two months before Emmy night]. It’s a Nolan Miller dress. He redid the sleeves because they did this crepey-drapey thing. Having Nolan design something for me was appealing because I wasn’t my own shape yet, so I needed to have somebody really shape something that would be flattering. I didn’t want to look at sizes. I think I went shopping once, and I was overcome with depression. It’s hard when you’re at home with a newborn.
This was the first time I’d gone to anything like this. I’d never been to the Emmys, and I was nervous about being away from Henry. I had to go backstage and use my breast pump. But in spite of my anxiety, I was happy with how Nolan made me look.
I really like this dress a lot. It was simple, but it has this shirring. The Armani store called, I tried it on, and that was it. I love Armani. You can rely on him to stay in the classy and sophisticated area. That kind of shape is very glamorous, old Hollywood. I like a dress that has a built-in corset, built-in torso, because you can count on it for staying on.
This was the only year that Seinfeld won best show. People think that Seinfeld‘s won tons of Emmys, when in fact that is not the case. I didn’t win, but the show did, and I felt comfortable in the dress. Nothing broke. When we all went onstage, I liked the way this looked. My only regret is that I let my hair fall forward, very Veronica Lake. It looks like my hair is connected to the dress. I should have worn it back.
This is a fun dress, a vintage Chanel. I bought it from this shop [Lily et Cie] that sells vintage clothes. It’s from the early ’80s, and it’s called vintage. Isn’t that funny? I fell in love with it on the hanger. It cost a fortune, the most I’d ever spent on a dress, but it was too good to pass up. You wear it with the back buttons undone, so there’s a skirt underneath. It’s kind of a subtly sexy thing. And it has a little train.
The jewels are all Harry Winston [borrowed], I’m sure the bracelet was hundreds of thousands of dollars. I loved wearing the bracelet over the gloves, which I had made. They are velvet, to match the band on the top and the bow on the back. I didn’t feel quite like Audrey Hepburn, but it was fun as hell to wear.
This dress was definitely a lark. I’ve never worn anything like it. It’s complete dress-up, I was really out there on a limb, but it paid off in the end. I didn’t realize this Armani would cause as much of a ruckus as it did. When I got dressed for the evening, my husband’s jaw dropped to the floor.
At the Emmys, I went up to Jerry [Seinfeld], and I went, “Hey!” and he didn’t know who I was. I said, “It’s me.” Everyone asked how the dress was staying on, so I said there were tiny little helicopters above me and I was attached by harness. I didn’t keep this dress [it was on loan] because, where am I going to wear it again, Thanksgiving dinner?
I have to give Cary [Fetman, her stylist] credit because he insisted that I wear this Armani. I was a little afraid, because I’d obviously never done anything like this before. I never carry a wrap, which I love the idea of, and I’d never worn beads either. It was a completely different look, and that appealed to me. I like the back of the dress a lot. Lucky lime green, I call it.
This was a great night because this is the year I won. It was a shocker. It was fantastic, because I was sure I would lose. It’s much better to win than to lose. There’s no doubt about it, having been in both positions. It was just a hugely fabulous night.
Bob Mackie made it for me. Again, I was in the postpartum fashion mode [son Charlie, now 15 months, was born three months before the show]. I gained the same amount of weight with each boy. That was a concern, but it was well-addressed by Bob because it was very corseted. The shape of the top of the dress flaring out created even more of a waist. Bob wanted me to wear a necklace to accentuate the flare, but I didn’t. I loved wearing the tulle wrap. Normally it’s the stuff that goes under the dress to give it a pouf, but this time we wore it over to give it a pouf. It’s sort of a contessa look. There were no problems with the dress. There have never been any problems. We work out any problems prior. If there’s a ripple of anything anywhere, it will be gone come Emmy night.