Gemma Chan Wears An Orb Dress

The British actress looks somewhat reluctantly trapped in a Christmas bauble for Elle UK. We’d like to see her wear that on a red carpet

Gemma Chan looks good in the clothes she wears. After her performance in Crazy Rich Asians (playing opposite the buckram Pierre Png), her red carpet appearances have been visions of sumptuousness and loveliness, one after another. Whether in Valentino at the Oscars or in Tom Ford at the Met Gala, she always looks immaculate and appropriately glamourous. That she’s tall, with a model’s body, help. She clearly knows what works for her under Kleig or flash. But it is in this seeming perfection that Ms Chan’s dressed-up looks tend to skew towards the predictable. Until now.

In one of the photos of the fashion spreads that accompany the cover story of the current issue of Elle UK, Ms Chan is outfitted in a custard apple (or a giant pea?) of a dress by the US-born British designer Michael Halpern. While it’s not an easy dress to pull off (or, probably, get into)—even by a natural clotheshorse—Ms Chan has made a fashion statement: she’s willing to go beyond Swan Lake-pretty. It’s, of course, also to stylist Jenny Kennedy’s credit that Ms Chan does not look like Jigglypuff’s green cousin. Only a fetching furoshiki.

In addition, the label Halpen has not been Ms Chan’s go-to brand for her high-profile appearances and engagements. This element of surprise with Elle UK is indication that she is willing to go further, even, when the dress appears to wear her than the other way round. Mr Halpern is known for his disco-inspired designs that arouse the interest of those less-inclined to don the traditional red-carpet gowns. His dresses, in fact, are more likely seen at the Grammy than Academy Awards. So striking are his designs that one glance at his Central Saint Martins MA graduation collection of 2016 was enough to convince Donatella Versace to hire him as consultant for Versace Atelier. Could this Halpern orb dress, then, change course for Gemma Chan as she continues to navigate more red carpets of the world? Hope is not a bad thing to have.

Photo: Marcin Kempski/Elle UK