2023 was a whirlwind of a year for theatre, with an unscripted Tony Awards due to the Writers Guild of America strike, the closure of Broadway's longest-running musical The Phantom of the Opera, and many more historic moments.
With all these momentous occasions came some fittingly memorable fashion. As we look back on the year, here are our favorite show-stopping red carpet looks of the year.
J. Harrison Ghee — The 2023 Tony Awards
2023 Tony winner J. Harrison Ghee turned heads in this custom bright cerulean outfit by Jérôme Lamaar Rice. Assisted by Jacinto Onofre, Rice styled Ghee with jewelry by Lisa Nik and heels by Brandon Blackwood for an androgynous look, topped off with an architectural afro. Ghee not only walked home with a historic Tony win, but with several "Best Dressed" titles across the board!
Zenzi Williams — Jaja's African Hair Braiding Opening Night
As you can probably guess, the opening night of Jaja's African Hair Braiding offered some of the best red carpet hairstyles of the year—honestly even the decade. A highlight of that carpet was Zenzi Williams' hair by Created to Create (Amber Nicole and Taty). It was a work of art on its own, but her gorgeous fitted feather dress by Hanifa took it to the next level. The black fishnet bodice beneath the flurry of royal purple was simultaneously dramatic and chic.
Nikiya Mathis — Jaja's African Hair Braiding Opening Night
The opening night of Jaja's African Hair Braiding clearly had so many incredible styles—we absolutely couldn't show just one! The show's hair and wig designer Nikiya Mathis absolutely shimmered in hues of purple, teal, and silver with this metallic dress by Ashaka Givens. Her gold boots and jewelry added even more sparkling luxury, and her artfully crafted hair (styled by Mathis alongside her mother and family members) was also adorned with gold.
Meghan Picerno — The Phantom of the Opera Closing Night
Meghan Picerno wore a jaw-dropping black ruffled gown with a studded bodice by Alex Teih Couture to the closing night performance of Phantom of the Opera. As one of Broadway's most recent Christine Daaés, Picerno certainly channeled both the elegance of her character and an edge of darkness fit for the "Music of the Night." Her statement jewels by Tamsen Z elevated the look to full-on prima-donna status. With all that drama and flair, it's clear that Carlotta isn't the only diva in Phantom.
Clint Ramos — Here Lies Love Opening Night
In one of the most memorable and awe-inspiring fashion moments of the year, Here Lies Love's producer and costume designer Clint Ramos led an initiative for many members of the show's all-Filipino cast: Sport a modern twist on traditional Filipino dress—especially outfits enhanced with large puffy sleeves. "It's called the butterfly sleeve. It's from the traditional Filipino terno, which is the national dress of the Philippines. And there are many different variations and we're very proud of it," said Ramos on the red carpet.
Ramos' ensemble also featured a custom leather butterfly-sleeved harness by Mark Anthony Gieringer and a clean-cut, crisp white modern tunic by Carl Goldberg—it beautifully brought the worlds of traditional and modern fashion together into one unified piece.
Jordan Dobson — Bad Cinderella Opening Night
Hello, Prince Charming! At Bad Cinderella's opening night, lead actor Jordan Dobson was absolute red carpet royalty, styled by Mickey Freeman in this gorgeous aquamarine ensemble by Victoria Hayes. The shimmering bottom paired with the sheer lace top piece added so much dimension against Dobson's elegant black puff-sleeve robe by Marc Bouwer, and the black turtleneck underneath created a seamless line from shoulder to shoulder. Watch out, Cinderella—you're going to have some fashion competition at the ball!
Betsy Wolfe — The 2023 Tony Awards
In true 2023 fashion, Betsy Wolfe brought on that "lavender haze" with one of the 76th Annual Tony Award's most viral and beloved looks. Styled by Greg Dassonville for Dasson Vogue, Wolfe's bright, feathery custom couture by Hen Skurnik for Karen Sabag Bridal Couture popped against the tropical-inspired colors of the red carpet. This first time Tony nominee for & Juliet commanded attention. Adorned with Kwiat Diamond earrings, rings from Stephanie Gottlieb and Beekman New York, Wolfe's high-glamour look was completed by a pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes. (We think Taylor Swift would be proud!)
Julian Ramos — New York, New York Opening Night
The opening night of Kander and Ebb's New York, New York brought some of the most fun, unique, and heartfelt fashion tributes to the city that Broadway calls home. Julian Ramos' outfit designed by Megan O'Cain was certainly the pinnacle of that quintessential New Yorker cool guy energy, with a mesh Yankees jersey (go team!) taking center stage. The black puff sleeves and white collared shirt underneath added an unexpected delicate touch of elegance. The calf-length socks and Gucci black sneakers kept the look stylish but comfortable—staple adjectives in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
Julia Lester — The 2023 Tony Awards
2023 Tony nominee Julia Lester (for Into the Woods)officially took the throne as Broadway's very own red carpet princess with this custom emerald gown straight out of a fairytale, which was designed by Lester (!!) and made by Batsheva. Styled by Jake Sokoloff, Lester's Harwell Godfrey black velvet choker and turquoise earrings are truly fit for a moment in the woods. Someone cast Lester in a show with regal costumes, because she clearly belongs in them!
Sarah Paulson — Appropriate Opening Night
Paulson looked formidable at the opening night of Appropriate in her ultramodern angular look by Alexandre Vauthier, from the sharp shoulders to the triangle cut at the bottom of her overcoat. The actor's gold collar with the icy jeweled accent is gorgeous enough on its own, but looks cohesive when paired with a gold chain belt. The ensemble makes clear that just like her character Toni in the play, Paulson is a force to be reckoned with.
Gabriella Enriquez — Spamalot Opening Night
On the opening night of Spamalot, cast member Gabriella Enriquez was absolutely show-stopping in her velvet Reformation dress (purchased at Graceland New York), which was embellished with custom chainmail from Etsy (bedazzled and fitted by Megan Carpenter). She wore Abound shoes. Both the dress and the chainmail fit her perfectly, making us wonder why there aren't any lady knights in Camelot—there should be!
Kara Young — Purlie Victorious Opening Night
Finishing off with one of this year's most memorable uses of fashion as a statement, from the Purlie Victorious opening night red carpet: Kara Young's tribute to Ruby Dee, who played Lutiebelle in the original production of Purlie Victorious in 1961. Young playes Lutiebelle in the current Broadway revival. Dee's visage is featured all across Young's dress and shawl (which was designed by Young's aunt). Her silver jewelry and purple lipstick complement the black-and-white tones of her ensemble.
As Young told Playbill, "My Aunt Martha Jenkins is a seamstress/designer, and we have been collaborating forever. It was important for me to recognize Ruby Dee as the icon that she is." We think Ms. Dee would be proud!
BONUS: Belle and Tinkerbelle the Dogs — Bad Cinderella Opening Night
We would be remiss not to include the cutest canine red carpet appearance of the year. As if they weren't adorable enough on their own, the matching tutus and bejeweled collars definitely made this reach cuteness overload (but we're not mad about it). What we want for 2024, more pets on the red carpet!
Here's to a fantastic year of theatre fashion, and we'll see you all at the next red carpet for another roundup!