Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Red-Carpet Schizophrenia

We just want to understand: a sad feathered headband, a Dries Van Noten stunner, and a Zac Posen bed jacket. Photo: Getty Images

With another summer movie season drawing to a close, we thought we'd finally gotten a handle on the celebrity approach to dressing for a parade of global press tours: Figure out what, exactly, you're trying to sell about yourself, and then pack outfits that are on-point without being identical. For instance, Anne Hathaway’s Get Smart looks each seemed cleverly chosen to rub her ex-boyfriend’s nose in her unavailable hotness; similarly, when Gwyneth Paltrow promoted Iron Man, her endless string of super-short minidresses helpfully reminded us that she’s still a relevant, sexy woman with legs for weeks, rather than just Madonna’s musty old macrobiotic-loving best friend.

Then Maggie Gyllenhaal threw a wrench in our theory. Surely, promoting The Dark Knight was the perfect way for this indie princess to present her quirky personal style as a charming antidote to Hollywood’s cookie-cutter starlets. Instead, she gave us a fashion roller-coaster, sporting a schizophrenic range of looks that made us wonder if she threw them into her bags at random, possibly while blindfolded.

Maggie’s lone hit came at the Stateside premiere, to which she wore a gorgeous black flowered Dries Van Noten gown (above, center), with minimal accessories beyond the kind of shoulders that make us drop and do ten (okay … five) on the spot. That's the perfect modern, offbeat spin on a classic cut, and a great example of keeping it simple without being a snore.

But it’s sandwiched between two fussy, bipolar flops. Maggie's floor-length blue-and-black Zac Posen is the clothing version of a split-personality soap-opera character: the pretty, generally well-liked sheath fighting to peek out from behind the domineering, overworked, bed-jacket-esque overlay that appeared one day after a bump on the head and started slutting around town ruining their joint reputation. And that vintage black cocktail dress can't figure out WHAT it wants to be. Did she knot a velvet toga over a slip and think a feathered headband would be the magic Band-Aid that patched it all together?

Multiple personality disorder, dressed in Gaultier and Stella McCartney.Photo: Getty Images

Then Maggie threw in a few ill-advised retro curveballs. The orange peekaboo dress is Gaultier; although lace is admittedly very on trend for fall, as far as we’re concerned, neon plus lace plus visible bra just equals eighties Madonna (plus the only Madonna-esque Gaultier look we’re dying to revisit involves cone boobs). But at least the dress fits her, and although that damns it with faint praise, it's more than can be said for Maggie's unflattering Stella McCartney jumpsuit. Sure, the blousy, baggy fit hides the occasional pre-party Happy Meal, but shouldn't something with a halter top and a plunging neckline be slightly less frumpy? Also, shouldn't she have feet?

So while we’d hoped to emerge from the shadow of The Dark Knight’s press onslaught refreshed by Maggie’s off-kilter charm and sassy style, here we are throwing up our hands and saying to ourselves, "I wonder what Katie Holmes would have worn if she'd stuck around?" The only firm statement these looks make is that Maggie favors an updo. And unless she’s hankering for an Us Weekly cover about her bobby-pin addiction, we hope she’ll consider a more all-around cohesive approach to her next summer-movie fashion spree. After all, if you want your clothes to make a statement, it's better if they're not speaking in tongues. —The Fug Girls

Related: Anne Hathaway Gets Her Chic Revenge
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