Nina Dobrev

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What do stars do with their Emmy gowns after the big night? Will Nina Dobrev ever wear that gorgeous Donna Karan again?
—Laura, Texas, via the inbox

Put it this way: When asked this weekend about her Donna Karan Emmys dress—you know, the one with giant origami frogs and cranes folded all along the bottom—Nina Dobrev said it all:

Which is that she owned exactly nothing that she was wearing that day. In fact she went on to express her hope that the lipstick-colored gown would do someone good once it was returned to its owner.

"In general the dresses go back to the designer/showroom," confirms Cloutier stylist Maria Divaris, who this year dressed at least one Emmy celebrity she'd rather not name. "Particularly as a lot of dresses maybe straight off the runway so they can be shot editorially."

In other words, plenty of those Emmy gowns aren't even available to the public yet.

They're from next season, in sort of the same way that a car company shows off a few 2012 cars right here in 2011. Designers call them samples, lonely, one-of-a-kind pieces that need to go straight from the red carpet a photo shoot for a glossy magazine.

Really. The exact same gown.

"Yes, the gowns you see often end up in the magazines we read a couple months later, particularly if they've just come off the runway and are within the relevant season," Divaris tells me. "Also, some gowns you see may have already appeared editorially."

However, not every dress goes back to a designer.

In the past, stars like Jennifer Aniston and Patricia Heaton have donated their gowns to charity auctions. And with at least one major Emmy star—Melissa McCarthy—parading about in a gown of her own design, it's not likely that such custom work is going anywhere but back in McCarthy's closet.

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