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After seasons of strapless and single-shouldered looks, actresses are bidding a farewell to bare arms. Gown sleeves — both long and short — are back in a big way. While 2017 boasts an impressive lineup of veteran nominees (Meryl Streep, 67; Annette Bening, 58; Isabelle Huppert, 63), the latest sleeve incarnations aren’t only for the over-50 set, with younger stars — including Emma Stone, 28; Ruth Negga, 34; and Michelle Williams, 36 — all taking cover. “It’s a less obvious way of dressing and can go from ethereal to very chic and strong,” says Negga’s stylist Karla Welch. And why not? In addition to upping the style quotient, sleeves banish “bingo wings” — also known as underarm wobble — and hide pesky armpit fat (the Latin term for the armpit area is axilla, but let’s just call it extra “meat,” as Hollywood stylists jokingly do).
Underarm meat is a reality for even the most waifish of starlets, and no amount of circuit training can fully eliminate that annoying little dollop, according to Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have a woman in my office complaining about it,” he says. Sorry, detox- and yoga-loving wellness devotees. Note: For those dead set on underarm perfection, Ordon says there’s always Vaser, an ultrasonic-assisted liposuction that costs around $4,000 with a six- to eight-week recovery period, the time needed for “bruising and swelling to heal and skin contraction to take place.” Alternatively, A-list dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer recommends Ultherapy (approximately $1,500) for a noninvasive procedure: “We’re using high-intensity, focused ultrasound to treat the ‘speed bump.’ The machine heats the tissue and causes the superficial fat cells to dissolve, and the skin shrinks to it.”
Luckily, Hollywood’s red-carpet pied piper, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, is leading the charge with his kooky, colorful long-sleeved gowns, while perennial awards-show favorites Elie Saab and Marchesa and rising design stars Monse and Jonathan Simkhai showcased unmumsy sleeves — lace, bishop, bell — in their pre-fall 2017 collections. “I love sleeves. I’m excited to see how some of the younger actresses will avoid traditional strapless evening dresses,” Simkhai tells THR. Adds Rob Zangardi of styling duo Rob & Mariel, who dressed Lily Collins, 27, in Saab’s medieval sleeves for the Critics’ Choice Awards: “You can take sleeves in multiple directions. You can have an elegant Grace Kelly-inspired gown, a body-con number that’s more rock ‘n’ roll or something colorful and vintage-looking that a French ingenue might wear.”
One wonders if sleeves are perhaps a nod to the feminist fashion movement, with designers and leading ladies standing arm-in-arm. “Right now, in fashion, there is a new way of being sexy, and it doesn’t mean showing skin,” says designer Christian Siriano. Sure, a power pantsuit makes a predictable statement on the Globes carpet — women in pants, oh my! Much to the chagrin of fashion pundits! — but a cool, modern long-sleeved gown leaves a woman fabulous and with one less thing to worry about (bye-bye, meat). Vive les sleeves!
This story first appeared in the Jan. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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