Emmys 2021: the rise of the gender-neutral red carpet

Before the pandemic took hold and turned red-carpet dressing into an awkward virtual dance of Instagram fits and “Zoom dressing”, there was a whisper that gender was being redefined on fashion’s most conservative platform: the red carpet. The likes of Billy Porter, Timothée Chalamet and Jonathan Van Ness were serving looks that suggested not only was the traditional suit dead, but its passing had allowed a new era of fashion to begin: the rise of the non-binary red carpet.

And that finally came to pass at last night’s Emmy awards ceremony. One of the first in-person red carpets to occur since the outbreak of Covid-19, it was a celebration of post-pandemic “roaring 20s” dressing and individualism. Not only did the nominees make history (there were nomination firsts for non-binary and trans actors), but the clothes did too. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it a social and sartorial revolution.

Top fashion honours went to Carl Clemons-Hopkins from Hacks, who wore a Christian Siriano ensemble: a slashed shoulder-revealing top which recalled Princess Diana’s “Revenge Dress”, matched with a cummerbund and sash in the colours of the non-binary flag.

Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang, meanwhile, pushed the boat out for gender-neutral heels. Yang’s Rancho Silver shoes were inspired by “vintage disco and white trash” according to makers Syro. It marked an important moment of red-carpet exposure for this small, queer-owned-and-run fashion company.

With a look they called “crucible realness” on Instagram, Emma Corrin, who updated their pronouns in July, paired a dramatic swimming-cap-like headpiece with a black knife-like manicure (“Salem-chic”?). It was a deft, dramatic standout look in a night full of them. Will the red carpet ever be the same again?