Natalie Portman And Debra Messing’s Dress Mess

January 20th, 2006 // 36 Comments

Natalie Portman may not be connected to the Reese Witherspoon dress scandal after all. However, she’s apparently involved in a Chanel dress scandal of her own. Is it all in the broach?

Unconfirmed reports are surfacing that Portman’s so-called “vintage” black lace Chanel frock worn to Monday’s Golden Globe Awards is another recent repeat. Embarrassingly, the same strapless Chanel frock may have been worn by Debra Messing to the 12th Annual Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Awards back in 2001.

How could this happen? Is it really the same dress? No clue. And it’s too late to reach the Chanel PR folks at this late hour (almost 7 p.m. PST on Thursday).

No doubt they’re all home, heavily medicated (two Tylenol PMs) after a horrible day of apologizing to Witherspoon’s camp for giving the actress the same dress worn by Kirsten Dunst to the 2003 Globe post parties and calling it vintage.

But if this Portman/Messing report turns out to be accurate, it’s fairly safe to say that heads will roll — Marie Antoinette style — soon at Chanel’s corporate headquarters.

Will celebrities ever wear Chanel again?

First Reese, now Natalie? Mon dieu! [Styles and Scenes]

UPDATE: And it was also worn by Kirsten Dunst! Chanel loves the Dunst!

By Miu von Furstenberg

  1. KittyLiterati

    Yep, looks like the same exact dress. Only Natalie appears to be wearing a belt over it.

  2. Stewie Griffin

    wonder what Karl thinks of all this…lol

  3. The Mav

    The Chanel dress scandal.

    There needs to be congressinal hearings. LOL!!!

  4. fatfinger

    I would so boycott Chanel….. How’s ingnorant.

  5. Brian

    According to Chanel,the dress Kirsten Dunst wore in spiderman was a Chanel off the rack copy of the couture dress.Whatever…..The next few award shows should be a nightmare for stylists.

  6. lollipop

    whoa… did debra messing get a nose transplant? cuz that AIN’T her…

  7. timmons622

    It’s funny to me that multiple women would want to wear such ugly dresses in the first place. Take away the Chanel name and they’re nothing but throwbacks to my 1988 high school prom.

  8. timmons622

    It’s funny to me that multiple women would want to wear such ugly dresses in the first place. Take away the Chanel name and they’re nothing but throwbacks to my 1988 high school prom.

  9. CD

    Until you’re able to handle a Chanel dress first hand, or any haute couture dress for that matter, you can’t really appreciate its quality or craftsmanship. There’s detailing there that’s invisible to the casual eye and usually unique to the design of the dress.

  10. booklvy

    CD’s right. Extensive work goes into the creation of an haute couture garment. About 100-150 hours of manual work go into the making of a day outfit such as a suit. Evening dresses with embroidery can require several 1000 hours of work. The process is the creation of a work of art – specifically for you. With Chanel for example, couturier Karl Lagerfeld starts with a sketch. Then each design is first sewn entirely in a canvas ‘toile’ before the real dress is made. After the fashion show, designs are entirely made-to-measure for clients with a minimum of two fittings. For regular customers Chanel keeps their own tailor’s dummy, which is made to the customer’s measurements.

  11. CD

    Right. When you buy from a designer’s Ready to Wear collection, something just off the rack, that’s the risk you take. And, that’s where your personal style comes through (jewels, handbag, man). That Versace JLo dress from a few years ago showed up on other women too (although after having seen JLo work it, I wouldn’t have set myself up for the comparison). I know I’ve seen things on the red carpet that a few years of reading Vogue and W to hone my dressing skills would make me say, “NO F-ING WAY” no matter what stylist or other yes people say to me. Too bad so many stars don’t know how to dress themselves.

  12. noelle9982

    Working in PR myself I can tell you this is one HUGE screw up on the part of Chanel and the stylists. They should have looked into this before committing to wearing the designs.

  13. nyc

    Seems to me that the whole “vintage” dress thing shoudl be very much over for the stars. Mon Dieu!

  14. anona

    I agree, Nicole. I also work in PR and this is just NOT supposed to happen when it comes to haute couture styling. The celebrities trust that the stylists and fashion houses have done their research in creating a one-of-a-kind unique product, no matter how intricate the details. CD, this is the reason why the celebs choose the “stylists” and the “stylists” choose the particular fashion house they would like to work with. This whole drama just makes Karl and the entire team at Chanel look bad.

  15. bestdress

    It’s ugly either way…Although for some reason it looks better on Debra Messing but Chanel is really f*cking up! lol Funny to me.

  16. CD

    Anona – I appreciate your insider PR view. As someone outside of PR, I just don’t think that this is as much of a disaster as it’s being made out to be. I can’t imagine Karl Lagerfeld being embarrassed that more than one actress wore the same design over the course of a few years. Now, same event, that could be…unfortunate, but no great tragedy. If you think you looked good in something, who cares who else is wearing (wore) it? I guess what you’re trying to say is that every actress wants to be the only person who ever wears the dress, or wants to be the first one photographed in it? That’s not what puts you on the Best Dressed/ Worst Dressed lists. I totally see your point, I just am not going to side with it.

  17. CD

    Anona – One more thought. I never understood “vintage” to mean that no one else, especially a professional collegue, has ever worn it. From a PR standpoint, do you think that the problem is that another young starlet wore it? Would it have been such a debaucle if Audrey Hepburn had worn it? Or, is the problem that the Witherspoon camp feels as if they were not given the “star treatment” they expect they deserve?

  18. ev

    I kind of feel ignorant for asking this- but I thought “vintage” meant it was a one of a kind older designer dress/garmet, but not “custom made” for a celebrity per se.

    So why would the witherspoon people expect it not to have been worn before?

  19. me

    vintage = not four years old, fer chrissake

  20. CD

    I could be wrong, but the dress was “vintage” when the first actress wore it too. It looks like a design from the 1950s, maybe 60s.

  21. sheena

    heads will definitely roll at Chanel. Obviously, Natalie, Debra and Kirsten are all wearing the same dress. Chanel should have prevented this type of mess if only they would have documented it well who wear what. Kirsten seems to be lucky that she wore those dresses first.

  22. Alexi

    But don’t forget that vintage is anything more than two seasons old if you are talking about Haute Couture or Ready-to-Wear collections.

    I bet you the Chanel PR is not very organized or…is fashion ignorant. Heehee. And for God’s sakes, there are other designers with dresses better than Chanel. It’s just the prestige for celebs that are oblivious to fashion.

  23. ninaradio

    Vintage anything older than two years? If the design studios really think they can pass off anything as recent as two years old as vintage, then they’ve seriously forgotten their clientele. When you’re making clothes pretty much exclusively for people who want to have their photos published in them-be it celebs in the national press or socialites on the newspapers’ party pages-two years old isn’t vintage yet, it’s just OLD.

    And no matter how good the construction, how fine the fit and feel, if it photographs like a bad prom dress, it might as well be a bad prom dress.

    But when it all comes down, the people who should be held accountable for these snafus aren’t working at Chanel, they’re working for the actresses. Part of the stylists’ job is to know what everyone else has worn in recent memory to avoid letting their clients find themselves in this sort of mess. If the blogoshpere can find the old pictures in a day or so, then surely the stylist could have run a check for them before the awards show happened.

  24. Natasha

    Wouldn’t it be fabulous if our (as in “real people”) biggest worry, was being seen sporting the same designer attire as another person. HELLO! Get it in perspective.

    To conlude; Who. Fucking. Cares.

  25. The horror

    I know I’ll never wear Chanel again.

  26. heidi

    OH MY GOD…… I was just at my local Kmart store and I ran into a lady that was wearing THE SAME shirt as I . I was so pissed….. heads should roll. LOL!!!!!

  27. Sharon

    I like channel fashions and do not mind seeing them for a 2nd return because they are pretty.

  28. audrey

    this is because hollywood is handing out so many friggen awards in all different shapes and forms, grammy, emmy, golden globe, mtv movie awards, etc etc. it’s redicules and these actors and actresses never have to buy a dress, designers ask them to wear a dress from their collection for free! it’s friggen retarted.
    cut the superficialness of it all.

  29. hellissa

    i agree with ya, audrey! how comes the ritchest bizzes never have to buy anything? what is that? it’s sucksville, i tell ya. get over it, stupid superstars! i hope no one was really upset by this. what snobs.

  30. Shy1

    I think the two dresses are very pretty and they definitely should have been seen more than once.

    If no one had made such a big deal about the mix ups the public would have been none the wiser.

    I don’t think the actresses should be upset. They were pretty in the dresses. They must have liked them when they tried them on.

    However it seems the Kristen Dunst has the best wardrobe person!!!

    Maybe that person whould get contracts from all the other actresses.

  31. April

    Who cares that someone wore the same dress that someone else was seen in!! God forbid that someone wears something that another person has. Where is there a law that says you must not be seen wearing any article of clothing that someone else has already been seen wearing? What’s next, you can’t wear your clothes more than once in your lifetime because you wore that pair of jeans a week ago? Give me a break!! If you want to wear something, wear it. Who cares if someone else wore it!!

  32. jerkygirl

    only pretty dress K. Drunkst has ever worn

  33. This would never happen to Angelina Jolie cause she would of picked a hotter dress. Or, no matter who wears a dress before her, she would always look hotter in it. So, point is, when the actress is lame than you remember the dress was worn before. Chanel is retarded!

  34. LS

    Lots of actresses wear the same dresses, this is just a screw up because it was Reese’s big day and they should have known better. Also what the hell is this some rotten plot to get Kirsten Dunst some press that doesn’t involve her being a bitch? Ugh. The fact that is her is what makes it worse, she’s no where close to Reese and Natalie’s level.

  35. bella

    i only really <3 chanel sunglasses,bags, and perfumes. i like some.. of the clothes.

  36. ninaradio

    I think the only reason it’s a big deal is that these awards shows are major career moments for these actresses, and if the press they get afterward is all about a duplicate dress (like we’re seeing) they worry what impression that leaves on people who might be thinking of sending them a script for the next big role. Especially someone like Reese Witherspoon, who is trying to break out of the “cute, fashion-obsessed and funny” roles into meatier ones. She needs for directors not to worry that the first thought people have when they hear her name is the dress thing, rather than “yeah, I’d like to see her in that.”

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