Last night the 54th Annual Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles amidst the tragic news of Whitney Houston’s untimely death. It was one of those awkward, “how do we celebrate and still honor the legend” moments that Awards shows seemingly contend with all too often. All in all it appeared the show’s host, LL Cool J, handled it well, opening the show with, “There’s no way around this” before leading the audience in prayer. There was the subsequent awkward “In Memorium” slide show where we see how stars are ranked in order of importance by the size of their picture on the screen, and the order in which they are presented. Jennifer Hudson then sang a chilling a capella version of “I Will Always Love You.” Honor given, respect paid.
I suppose we’ll never know what the show would have been like had the recent tragedy not occured, but my sense from the Red Carpet was that there were many stylists frantically driving around LA yesterday morning scrambling for black dress alternatives for their clients to wear. The predominance of black on the Red Carpet seemed appropriate for many, although no one made direct mention of a change in wardrobe.
I suppose we could begin with those NOT in black, as the Grammy’s takes place during New York’s Fashion Week — whose runways are showing Fall 2012, despite it actually being Winter 2012 and the stores having just released Spring 2012 (got all that?). The weather in LA notwithstanding, the color palette at award shows seems to have a life of its own. Most notably NOT somber was Fergie, in a Jean Paul Gaultier Couture bright orange lace stunner that was completely see through to a black bra and tap pant underneath. This is one of those looks people will either love or hate, get or not get. Having seen Fergie try and be conservative and elegant to no avail at awards shows past, I have to say I loved this on her. It was daring High Fashion, and she owned it. Also in color was Katy Perry, who wore a pale blue backless beaded gwon by Elie Saab. The backless part meant she was also braless, a choice she may regret when she sees the pictures today. She’s too young to sag, but alas. Her other most dominant accessory was her blue hair. First of all, Katy, we know. The demise of your marriage to Russell Brand has you feeling “blue”. Aw. Second of all, that dress would have been STUNNING on Helen Mirren. It was too old for you, and the ‘funk it up with blue hair’ tactic fell short for me.
Taraji P Henson wore a very strange sequin gown that faded from pink to cheetah and also did not support her decollatage. It was neither sexy nor edgy. Carrie Underwood looked angelic in a white studded gown with an open back, later changing into a black one shouldered mermaid style gown to sing with Tony Bennett. Two home runs, as far as I could see. Also not in black was Jesse J. She wore a Julien Macdonald mirrored gown that refelected red on the Red Carpet, blue when she was standing next to Katy Perry, pink when — you get the idea. This was a cool dress-as-art-piece that she carried off well, but the hair! She appeared to have the worlds’ worst fake clip on bangs attatched to the top of her ponytail and I found it distracting.
Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert both wore heavily beaded and embroidered gold gowns that were heavy, aging, and cumbersome. Taylor Swift is the current cover model of this month’s Vogue, debuting a new (stylist created) boho Stevie Nick’s look that I adore for her. Trotting out this substatial dress with her trademark golden locks pulled back made her look mad. Miranda Lambert also could have used a bra consult, and perhaps a visit to the Spanx cart at the mall. (I dont care for her, can you tell?) Lastly not in black was This Year’s Egg: Nicki Minaj arrived in a Versace red satin cloak, accessorized with an actor playing a Bishop. Clearly this was a preamble to her most odd performace later in the evening, with religious themes and dancers and elevating planks and the old guy bishop dude and smoke and what? Well, I do like a girl with convictions. Not much else to say.
The problem with black gowns at an awards show is that they can disappear amongst the sea of black tuxedos, and if there isn’t some eye-popping detail involved, they can just appear boring. I was bored by the adorable Julianne Hough, in a Kaufman Franco strapless dress and blunt messy (was that a wig?) hair. Cyndi Lauper wore a Jean Paul Gaultier tuxedo with chain detail that didnt work for me. Diana Krall was lovely but looking like she was going to the Opera in a one shouldered plain drapey off the rack dress, Diana Ross was also in a plain black suit on the Red Carpet, and a more elaborate black strapless gown onstage. Alicia Keys tried really hard with a short, fitted angular shoulder-padded dress that didn’t work with her curves. She had the Bruno Mars/Elvis hair, a gold plate bib necklace, the pointy shoulder pads, it was all incredibly distracting and unflattering. Gwyneth and Kelly Clarkson also in “just fine” black gowns. Yawn.
I have to mention my Adele. It was her night last night, as she won each of the 6 grammy’s for which she was nominated, and has recently recovered from throat surgery. She has lost a substantial amount of weight and has quit smoking. Hair dyed blonde, on the Red Carpet she wore a black floor length sparkly Armani Prive gown that was breathtaking and modern. Later during the show, she was in her more signature vintage inspired polka dot fit and flare dress. The first dress was jaw dropping, the second was expected but still lovely. My only issue with it was the nude underlayer (presumably so she could wear a bra under the sheer bodice overlay) was too visible and too big. The v-neck looked like a separate dress beneath the jewel neckline of the outer dress, and read on screen like an old fashioned slip worn in the early sixties. (and not in a good way).
I adored Corinne Bailey Rae in a Critian Siriano confection that also employed the use of a sheer layer over a fitted dress. This was cocktail length, with just enough of Mr. Siriano’s signature ruffling at the hem and for me looked perfectly retro and modern at the same time. My best dressed of the night was Rhianna. She “collaborated with Mr. Armani” (oh to be a fly on the wall for that skype meeting….) on a simple, crazy sexy black dress with sharp and deep slits down and up and tiny strings tying the back all together. It was amazing, simple, and made for her body. I loved the choice of delicate jewelry, and the frizzy, over dyed blonde shag hair she wore with it. This is how a pop star should dress for the Music’s Biggest Night.