First, I apologize for the extreme tardiness of this review...and I take back every griping thing I ever said about Joey Styles. Then again, he gets paid to get the pics up and I don't earn zip from this labor of love I fit in around life, animals and a real job. So, actually, I don't take back anything I said about him after all :). Second, I'm laughing at myself as I'm posting this review. You would never believe how many times I've re-done the collages because my placements keep changing as I analyze and weight the looks. This is HARD, babes! Every year, so many ladies come out here and slay and somehow I have to distill it all into some kind of order. It's cray! And it's also fun. And I'm usually hella proud of the list when I finally get done, probably because I fight so hard to make it accurate and justify each placing. As always, I feel the need to mention that I madly adore each of these divas and root for all of them to rock the ravishing red lane of fame. I love it every time they do! That being said...
Bayley: Oh Bayls, Bayls. What happened here? I actually don't dislike this color-blocked maxi dress; it's simple and chic. There's just one problem: it's way too informal for an event like the Hall Of Fame. It would take some serious effort to make this piece black-tie-evening-worthy. Maybe with a bold statement in a luxe fabric - I'm thinking red satin (and maybe flower-embellished) sandals and a matching sash - it might be possible. Might. But we sadly don't see that from Bay. She goes with plain leather mules, which actually work in the opposite direction and make the dress more casual. I like the look very much: it's straightforward, clean and a massive departure from her crazy-fun ring style. I give her huge props for exploring new ground. If this were a girl's lunch, a meet-and-greet or date night, I'd be cheering. But it's the Hall of Fame.
Prologue: Sasha had two HoF looks. Her first dress broke, so (like the brilliant boss that she is) she switched to her back-up choice. I'm reviewing both because one says more about her style choices and the other speaks to her improv abilities. But, beyond all the below, I have to say that I am tremendously impressed that she made this come together as well as she did. It warrants an Honorable Mention (mad props, Sash!)
Sasha's original choice was this chain-printed Kourvosieur gown that, even with its white-and-gold color scheme, gives me something of a mermaid vibe. With her gorgeous side-swept hairstyle, this is a massive upgrade from last year! It's appropriately formal and quite unique. I would have loved to see the culmination of the look with her shoe and jewelry choices, but seeing her be at this point this year, compared to last year's effort, is tremendous. It's 100% the right direction and I'm loving it. Am I allowed to be proud? 'Cuz I'm super proud of her!
After the defection of that gown, she shifted to this ivory wrap-style dress. While, like Bayley's dress, it's a bit informal for the HoF, I love the powerful (and on-trend) suiting vibe it evokes and I applaud Sasha's efforts to elevate it with a bold necklace, flashy statement clutch and cage heels. It looks a smidge haphazard, but there's an excellent reason why. Clearly, she tried her guts her guts out for this event and she gets massive respect from me for doing so. The fact that she looks as pulled together as she does is a huge accomplishment.
Alexa: I'm a little surprised that Miss Bliss was one of only two ladies to go for a two-piece at this event. And she pulls it off wonderfully! While the coord tends to have a young and hip vibe, I love that this is a more thoughtful rendition of the sheer trend, using the translucent fabric primarily as a backdrop for the exquisite sequined beading. This is how sheer ought to be done! It's not showy or body-flaunting, just subtly sexy! The one thing that holds this look back is Blissy's massive pile of bangles. It's straight out of a LayCool photoshoot! I love the pieces in and of themselves, but a formal event like this isn't where you want to be channeling grunge-glam vibes. Her dark nails convey the attitude as subtext, which works far better. With all the sparkle of her coord set,it would have been absolutely fine if Alexa ditched the accessories completely here. I also would have loved to see her accent the formality of the dress with a half up-do.
Lana: Is the memo officially out, yet? If there's one huge take-away from this year's red carpet, it's that the red dress is queen! No less than five ladies wore the shade. Lana is the first in the pantheon with this piece from Walter Collection. I wish the bodice of her dress was just a bit different. There's so much illusion panel and so little embellishment that the balance feels off to me and makes me think more of a dance costume than a formal gown. And that saddens me muchly, because from the waist down, this piece is AMAZING!! I'm in love with the luxurious glow of the satin, the powerful shade of scarlet, the mermaid shape, the way it flows - it's just jaw-dropping! Lana intelligently went easy on the accessories with just a subtle sparkle of red stud earrings and kept her hair ultra-simple: long and straight, which was an excellent choice with a daring gown like this. I would have loved to see try the same understated philosophy for her lip shade, perhaps a blush or nearly-nude hue.
Natalya: Gah, Nattie, you're killin' me here! This dress is fabulous; there's only tiny thing that keeps it from the upper ranks - the sheer-over-brassiere styling. For a Vogue editorial, yaaaas. For a formal event like the HoF... mmmmReallyReallyDon'tLikeSayingItButButBut...*scrinches eyes and wiggles head 'no'* If this were a full cami-type lined bodice with the sheer overlay, I'd be raving over it, madly, truly, completely. I love the glittering pattern overlaying the sheer fabric. I love the way the scalloped edge blends into the subtle sheen of the satin skirt. I love that it's so different from last year's architectural black styling - it signals a wide range of style command. I love that Nattie added a flush of color with an oh-so-trendy blush clutch. I love the straightforward, solid flash of her hoop earrings. I LOVE her high pony! Beyond love, actually. It's polished, but not harsh, pull-together but flirty at the same time and it accompanies this gown peeeeeer.fect.ly. That is a lot of love for a non-top-three look, eh? Ogh, if only, if only.
Cathy: Our next Lady In Red showed off this glamorous and exquisite Mac Duggal gown. The piece has stunning, Fabergé-like embellishment, and an unusual sweetheart neckline which makes it stand out. She accessorized it with minimalist band rings and a selection of small-scale earrings, letting the dress have center stage. It was a spot-on choice. The look is thoroughly lovely, until we get to her hairstyle. The center-parted pony reached for sleek and got stuck at stark. I wish she had gone for something more befitting of the formality of her gown: a simple up-do, or fancy half up-do. Even though the gown itself is quite formal, with her admirable restraint in terms of accessories, something more daring and artistic would have been an appropriate touch.
Charlotte: her gorgeous ivory Herve Leger gown hit a similar snag. Even with the glorious texture of the woodgrain foil print, this stunning bandage dress creates a very spare canvas. Her long and loose locks came off breezy and beautiful but didn't enhance the piece's attributes in the way a complex chignon or french knot would have. For comparison, Beth's very similar blush dress benefitted tremendously from the drama of her opulent embellished half up-do. Char got part-way there with her flawless choice of cerise lip, which brought a little taste of the panache this gown was craving.
Renee: This choice from Renee really got me jazzed up! I love how different it is and how fresh it feels in a sea of sequins and satins. We don't see many florals in wrestling period, so getting this incredible dark floral on the red carpet was a yuuuuuge thrill! That being said, because it is shine-free, embellishment-free and utilizes a matte fabric, the gown is quite informal for a fancy evening event like this, even with the striking high-low skirt (that is how high-low ought to be done!). Renee had exactly the right instinct in choosing formal satin shoes to elevate it. Unfortunately, the thick frontal piecing is a bit heavy for this styling. Shucks. Now, if she had chosen something a shade more delicate like this...omg I couldn't even. Top that with a monotone satin clutch (perhaps with a jewelled handle? I'm sorry..I just...sparklies, ya know? :)) and a coordinating satin choker and it would have been world full stop and a different HoF list.
Nia: As with Renee's look, I was very much thrilled and impressed with Nia's choice. This black column Katana gown from Tadashi Shoji (a designer I love, btw) had just the right touch of embellishment - an illusion yoke emblazoned with crystals - that helped keep it appropriately formal. You may keel over from the shock when I say this but...I actually like the styling choice to allow her bra strap to show (I know, I know, right?!) I'm rarely on board for that and basically never in a formal situation, but I am eating my past critiques on this one! Here, the wide strap adds to the design and creates the suggestion of a spot on-trend and very regal cold-shoulder silhouette, which makes this glamorized classic fabulously au courant. The thigh-high slit gave it on-trend drama and Nia's black open-toe sandals finished it with poise and refinement. If I'm splitting hairs (and it's me after all, so slice, slice :)), the one thing I would have loved is to see Nia do this in color - even an ultra-deep one (navy, eggplant, forest, oxblood). Maybe next year :) With subtle earthy-rose lips and bold eyes, Nia just smashes this look (and I totes think Mr. Shoji should have her model his gowns).
Alicia: Foxy's conversation-starter gown took a minute to grow on me. I wish it were a little less blingy, but I know Foxy gravitates to bold statements and favors a lot of shine and drama - especially on the red carpet, where it's thoroughly appropriate. Also, you'll rarely hear me say this, but I think the center illusion panel could have been left out beneficially. It would have deepened the neckline and enhanced the Golden Age vibe. But, again, I'm splitting hairs here. The way the design and direction of the beading draws your eye in to her waist is fantastic. It's an elegant yet edgy technique that becomes the defining feature of the piece, in spite of all the beading. The multi-colored hues of the embellishment modernize the style, putting me in mind of some of Dolce and Gabbana's recent maharajah-esque confections. The whole look is expertly styled . The tiny tick Foxy loses for reprising last year's clutch* (the smooth shine of which works brilliantly here), she gains right back with this magnificent lip shade: a rich, mulberry hue that accentuates the purple beading in the dress. Her side-swept hair is fancy without being over-done - a nice foil for the big drama of her dress. I wish we had a peek at her shoes. A black sandal would have balanced out the glitter, but I can see a metallic silver working nicely also.
*Note: I generally advocate re-using pieces as much as possible, over throwaway fashion. It's a slight minus here only because the event is a one-off, high profile function and because of the closeness in time frame to the previous application. Re-using it is way more practical though, so while as a reviewer, I can nitpick Foxy's choice, as a fashionista, I'd probably do the same thing :).
Nikki: She wore the third of our five red gowns and this one is exquisite, save for one single detail. If this dress had been solid through the skirt, instead of sheer, this look would have been top 3, easily. Not only have we seen Nikki herself gravitate to this trend often (including when she won our count-up with it in 2014), but we've seen a good bit of it from a massive number of other stars as well. It's a little stale for me at this point. And that's a shame because there is so much else to rave about in Nikki's look. The stunning red shade, the gorgeous oversize lace, the subtle mermaid shape, the on-trend high collar and ruffled sleeves - it's all stunning! Feminine, yet bold, it's an impeccable representation of Nikki's personality and style sensibilities. And she sets it off perfectly with a sleek, polished pony and strong, but not overt crystal drop earrings that add just the right touch of sparkle without distracting from the dress. She rounds the look off with a color and textural contrast: an ivory fur bag. It's unfortunate that the stiff competition of the HoF review makes one tiny hiccough so costly, because this look is nearly flawless.
Becky: I was soooo close to having Becky in the top 3...so close! And I was super excited about it. And then, this other red dress happened and it just couldn't be. But I LOVE Becky's choices here, save one. This ivory dress (the Andie by Olia Zavozina) is simple, but the details make it stand out, especially the tailoring. The waist is beautifully defined below the blouson styling, so the column gown looks timeless and elegant. The sheen of the silk crepe fabric elevates the piece, while the slit open-back adds a surprise dose of drama. It's minimalist at its core, but concurrently deeply sophisticated. Becky was flawless in her instincts to heighten the glamour with strappy be-crystalled sandals. I also love her side-pinned hair: it's designed to show off the back slit of her dress, which it succeeds at in a lovely way. It also is more formal and interesting than plain, long curls would have been and I'm thrilled by her choice to go with something more ornamental than minimal. The only sticking point in the entire styling is her crystal-embellished bag - on black leather. Oh, nuts :'(. The crystals are a yaaas, they just needed to be set on a light background to complement her shoes. Or, to be more daring, she could have opted for a dash of color, like this unique and icily beautiful lilac minaudiere.
2017 has a triad of shockers in store for us, including no one, but two debuts, in the top three, plus an "about time!" moment! First to impress is
Noelle: Our fourth lady to do red, Noelle, absolutely slayed this affair! This queenly dress is not only done in an eye-catching color, it also touches on two of the season's hottest trends: the off-shoulder silhouette, and the flowy bell sleeve! It's the latter that creates the royal vibe and adds gorgeous, refreshing movement to this unembellished design. Noelle intelligently brought in a dose of sparkle with her broad choker and its mix of light and dark stones. I wish she had echoed that hint of darkness somewhere else as well. I would even have been happy with a deep nail shade. It's the only wobble in an otherwise outstanding look. She reprised the sparkle via crystals in her ivory t-straps sandals, which I adore in every way! I love the warmth of the tone against the red, the touch of shine, the crisp silhouette. She gets additional fierce points for her bold, but not distracting make-up which adroitly avoids the seductive trap of a too-bright lip. This slightly-deeper-than-her-dress crimson is stellar. Well-selected, excellently-styled and stunning, this is a sterling debut! Kudos, Noelle for landing the third spot in our count-up!
Carmella: Wow! Was this an impressive debut! I guess I should have known from Mella's excellent ring and street style sense, but there's no guarantee that just because a gal's got it all going on stylistically for day-to-day that she has the vision for the night lights. Carmella proves she has both as she becomes our final lady to rock red, slaying in this stunning scarlet satin two-piece. It incorporates trends in spades: the off-shoulder silhouette, the mermaid shape, the ruffles (and how about the sheer detail at their edges that brought delicate beauty to this confident statement?!). There's a mature drama to this choice that's magnetic and thrilling. And can we talk about her flawless black bag? With its wonderfully unique shape and thoroughly appropriate formality (note the polished glam of the metallic edge and jeweled top!), it's a perfectly-chosen accompaniment that only enhances the poised beauty of her dress. This is an utterly magnificent ensemble from head to toe. Brava for taking 2nd place and being the highest debutante in the count-up, Carmella!
Maryse: FINALLY!!! :) Since 2011 when we started this countdown, I have been waiting and waiting for Maryse to take the top of the podium. She got excruciatingly close last year as runner up to Brandi with a look that was brilliantly executed. This year, she brings the same incroyable fashion sense to a very different look. When I saw the top of this dress, I was concerned. But when I saw the look in it's entirety, I was BLOWN AWAY. Returning to black after a several-year hiatus, Maryse is the epitome of French chic in this high-low halter gown. The piece is full of sophisticated intrigue. Note the luxurious jacquard fabric that adds texture and elegance, significantly elevating the dress's formality. The form-hugging like bodice is accented by a breath-taking plunge-front, kept classy by the illusion panel at the center. The graceful high section of the skirt descends into a graceful low back - complete with a glorious train that adds drama to the piece. Maryse's accessories were sheer perfection: tiny crystal hoops added a touch of sparkle above, while crave-worthy, jaw-dropping silver-beaded-leather (the Gypsandal x Louboutin; must be seen up close to completely savor and appreciate) ankle strap sandals created the superlative, thoroughly divine denoument to this captivating look. A streamlined ponytail mirrored the sophisticated vibe. This is the look I knew Maryse was capable of and have been dreaming of the day she delivered. She just did...and it's everything I dreamed of and more. I am euphoric to be able to at long last congratulate Maryse on standing atop the podium in the Diva-Fierce.com 2017 Hall Of Fame Fashion Review. Standing ovation, Maryse!
*Carmella's pic by Wrestling Figs
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Brie: shoe-lover :) fashion-lover and generally glamorous semi-dork
Photos used for criticism and comment under US Copyright Act Section 107.