Tracee Ellis Ross’s voluminous Valentino gown looked fabulous on the red carpet last night at the 2018 Emmys, but, it turns out, wearing it was even more fun. “I felt like I was floating in fashion heaven,” shared Ross postshow, and one glimpse at the look makes it easy to understand why. With its layers of fuchsia taffeta plissé and lengthy train, the piece was a standout in the house’s sumptuous Fall 2018 couture show, which took place in July at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild in Paris. Ross, who sat front row with stylist Karla Welch, even got emotional. “[Designer] Pierpaolo Piccioli is an artist of the highest caliber,” she said. “I cried when I saw this collection at couture week in Paris, and it was truly an honor to wear this gown.”
Both Ross and Welch made their mental selections, as models breezed down the runway. “I think Tracee and I kept hitting each other [saying] this one, this one,” said Welch, who compared the collection with a religious experience. Though there were several arresting looks, it was the fuchsia number on model Felice Noordhoff that made the strongest impression. Ross and Welch chose to forgo the matching floral headdress to create a beachy vibe, inspired by the surfers of Dakar, Senegal. “[I] thought, It’s easy to just add big bling and be so extravagant,” Welch said. Instead, they skipped the megawatt jewels in favor of understated earrings from Repossi and a tie-dye Edie Parker clutch that pulled it all together. “It just clicked,” added Welch. “Everything felt personal.”
That vibe carried over into the beauty look: a flash of orange eyeshadow and bold lipstick from Charlotte Tilbury courtesy of makeup artist Lisa Storey paired with slicked-back curls by hairstylist Johnnie Sapong. “My lids were inspired by the zinc sticks that surfers use to protect their skin,” said Ross, who considered the hair and makeup among her favorite parts of the total look.
Ross was nominated for the third consecutive year for her performance on Black-ish, and she handled her big night with humor. Though she admitted to preshow nerves, they were overshadowed by her epic fashion moment and signature joie de vivre. “I have a desire to utilize the moment when nominated, but no matter what, at an event like the Emmys, I like to create a look that I’m not gonna laugh at in 10 years,” said Ross. “Although, that might be inevitable!” Even a decade from now, Ross’s Valentino moment is sure to register as another fashion win, a fact Welch credits to their friendship and shared love of exceptional clothes. “We have fun together—that’s the goal,” said Welch. “We both eat up fashion. [It’s] sort of a match made in heaven. This time, heaven was a beach in Dakar!”