With Season 12 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills wrapped up and the reunion on the horizon, it is time to take stock of everything we have witnessed. No, this isn't a play-by-play of the many disagreements, petty comments, and rumored feuds. Viewers tune in to see whatever latest slight is causing drama, but the extravagant lifestyle amid the soapy antics is another big draw.
Cast members Sutton Stracke and Kyle Richards have boutiques, and the interest in fashion is as much an investment as it is a passion. Status is derived from a closet packed with designer garments, and you rarely see the same outfit worn more than once on screen. Each housewife has an array of casual and formal finery for themed parties, vacations, luncheons, and even high-end workout apparel. They're not afraid to wear their dollars on their sleeves — the hard-to-miss Balenciaga, Fendi, and Gucci logos indicating where these wealthy women shop. It might be considered a little gauche or in your face, but we wouldn't want it any other way.
Here are 10 fashion highlights from Season 12 of RHOBH.
Dorit Kemsley is known for wearing head-to-toe labels that clearly spell out the brand. This includes the gold Chanel ensemble worn during some of her Season 12 talking heads. Now, talking head fashion could get its own separate list, as there have been plenty of memorable looks that pull focus. Dorit's somber attire in the premiere was understandable, considering the terrifying break-in. Still, the Balmain bodysuit with a matching headband also suggested she had been watching racy historical dramas on Starz, as it served "Tudor queen." The housewives are TV royalty and have the wardrobe to match.
"If a nipple pops out, keep me posted" was Kyle's request about her plunging dress, which was also the ideal gown to do the splits in. Anyone who listens to Danny Pellegrino's excellent "Everything Iconic" podcast will know that "The Splits" is Kyle Richards' unofficial nickname, and gowns like this cement this moniker. Kyle did indeed pull out her best gymnastics at Garcelle Beauvais's birthday party. Meanwhile, Dorit kept up the full matchy-matchy vintage getup from the tiled print hair ribbon to her gloves in a Cirque du Soleil-leaning jumpsuit that definitely didn't need a nipple warning.
Gorgeous shoes don't always match the location, which Lisa Rinna discovered the hard way at a lunch hosted by Sutton. Recent rainfall caused this muddy misery, as the stacked Versace silk red platforms did not pair well with damp grass. Rinna had to resort to wearing Sutton's flip-flops to get to the table. It may have been out of necessity, but using this gorgeous table/mucky floor pairing as a symbol for Sutton was a step too far for Rinna — especially considering Sutton lent her a vintage 1940s purple YSL fur that elevated her outfit (too bad it wasn't faux).
"Is that Dolce?" Sutton spoke the language of labels with icon Jamie Lee Curtis, who graced Bravo with her presence in the name of a good cause. Kyle hosted a charity luncheon in honor of Curtis's company, My Hand in Yours (which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to Children's Hospital Los Angeles). Curtis noted that the clothing in question is "old Alexander Wang." Jamie and Sutton both matched the white room decor, and Sutton almost certainly would've given the Halloween star her leopard print purse if she had said yes. However, no one topped the love-in that Dorit was giving to the chic dog leashes and wind chimes on offer.
Diana Jenkins's holiday party was a perfect occasion for wearing head-to-toe sparkles… and much less so for unwanted advice and singing over Asher in his velvet suit. Special shoutout to Crystal Kung Minkoff for going glam Grinch in a green Valentino mini dress with feathered sleeves and shimmering Jimmy Choo boots (and for keeping it together during Erika's unsolicited advice about her eating disorder). Meanwhile, Garcelle was serving tinsel realness in an Alice + Olivia jacket that proved you can wear Christmas tree decorations and look this good.
Dorit's fundraiser was memorable for several reasons: the expressions of the attendees unaccustomed to a blazing row before dessert, Melissa Etheridge's surprise performance, and the name of the cause being honored. Okay, so most of the ladies couldn't remember that it is called Homeless Not Toothless — no one had a better response than Kathy Hilton, who performed an expert double-take at the moniker. One aspect that went off without a hitch was the black-and-gold theme, a sartorial serve that shouldn't get overshadowed by the screaming match. Sutton's black Gucci ensemble was chic (to use Dorit's fave word), Garcelle came dressed for battle in a Zhivago chain mini-dress, and Kathy paired high with low in a Zara jacket and Saint Laurent bag.
Theme nights always provide an arresting visual as the evening inevitably turns to whatever current beef is up for discussion. Unresolved tension following the Homeless Not Toothless shindig bubbled to the surface quicker than the ladies were to bust out their best Saturday Night Fever moves. Before it all went to hell at the Rinna Beauty launch, the ladies assembled in the customary photo booth for a group shot that gave the illusion of harmony — even as everyone jostled for face space amid all the big hair and bigger jackets.
Packing for Aspen was an exercise in cramming a nearly $3,000 silver D&G puffer jacket into a suitcase, but there was a more crucial sartorial moment that went down while Sutton's assistant Josh gave her a hand. Both were wearing hoodies that say "Protect Black Trans Women" during this luggage calamity, and sharing this message speaks volumes—the duo also tagged The Phluid Project on their socials. It was also one of the most affordable garments in the series.
When everyone wasn't talking about Erika's much-contested earrings — that even Jon Hamm had an opinion about — it was Kathy's low-key choices that caused grievances. At dinner, you would think Kathy had turned up with a plastic shopping bag instead of a cute shopper tote that was probably a free gift. But denying the urge to pull out every designer purse is a power move unmatched. Plus, the bag was also roomy enough to stash a Casa Del Sol tequila bottle. Whether it's shoes to fly in or her purse at dinner, Kyle's sister doesn’t feel the need to drape herself in labels at every opportunity. Let Kathy wear a peace slogan tee to a nightclub if she wants to, even if she has borrowed it from Kyle's closet (but thinks it is her niece's). That message sure doesn’t match whatever went down in Aspen. Kathy does get bonus points for wearing this same shirt when she apologized to her sister back in Los Angeles — and keeping it together when Rinna stopped by.
Crystal's 39th birthday theme wasn't exactly original, but 1920s fashion and its various interpretations are always a winner. Some, like Dorit, Diana, Sheree, and Sutton (wearing vintage from the period) went for the flapper aesthetic. In contrast, Garcelle, Crystal, Rinna, and Erika opted for movie influences. Garcelle's Chanel suspender twist on Josephine Baker won the night, but birthday girl Crystal came in a close second, serving Anna May Wong silent-era excellence. Rinna's top hat nodded to Marlene Dietrich, and Erika's headpiece was the most Bright Young Things. It was a low-key continuation of the conga line of Aspen drama that saw Kathy arriving late in flapper pearls and Chanel jewels. Her designer archive isn't gathering dust after all.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion special airs over three nights, beginning October 12 on Bravo.
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Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina.