When I commented on Facebook that I was watching the Superbowl, a friend immediately posted, wondering (tongue-in-cheek) why I hadn’t posted a review of the Superbowl “red carpet.” Considering that Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem, it was a legitimate comment. For all that the players themselves wear uniforms, the musicians involved, particularly in the halftime show, go all out to make an impressive fashion statement. So, over the years, who has failed miserably and who has succeeded spectacularly? Let’s take a look, shall we?
1993, Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s halftime show in 1993 is considered by some the beginning of the spectacle that is Superbowl Halftime. And his multiple costumes were in keeping with the idea of a spectacle. He began in one of his trademark military uniforms, with gold braid wrapped across the chest, riveted pants just short enough to show off his incredible footwork, his hair tied back, and a pair of Secret-Service-worthy mirrored sunglasses. Later in the performance he removed the jacket to reveal a loose white shirt over a plain white T, loosening his hair and losing the shades. The stark contrast of his crisp, sharp dance moves and the flowing, windblown look of the white overshirt was pure artistry, and the image above has become iconic. As in all the details of all Jackson’s shows, the costuming was perfect.
1999, Diana Ross
I still remember Ross’s entrance, flying in with her long gold lame robe billowing in the breeze, singing, “I’m….coming!” to the delight of the crowd. Still rocking the bright purple, gold-spangled unitard underneath it, Ross positively glowed. I honestly don’t recall her costume change into a silver-spangled red minidress, but the photos tell me she was as striking in the second outfit as the first. Like Jackson, Ross knew how to use an eye-catching costume (and costume change) to her advantage.
2001, Britney Spears
Britney, unfortunately, did not opt for the glamorous look. The low-slung silver pants were spectacular, and her killer abs studded with a belly button ring were the envy of every female in the audience, but the sloppy ripped T-shirt was too casual for the Superbowl, and what the heck was up with the tube sock over her right arm? Steven Tyler also went fairly casual in a sleeveless yellow-and-black T, but somehow managed to make it look appropriate in a way that Spears simply couldn’t pull off.
2003, Shania Twain
Shania Twain pulled out all the sartorial stops for her 2003 Superbowl appearance. From her thigh-high boots to her jewel-encrusted bra and matching choker and earrings to her Matrix-esque wrapped at the waist flared leather coat to her fabulous black-and-white hot pants, Twain OWNED her look. And the stage.
2004, Janet Jackson
You remember this one, don’t you? Yes, yes, you do. Janet Jackson is the reason that halftime shows ever since 2004 have been broadcast on a 3-second delay. She is the origin of the term “wardrobe malfunction.” It’s a shame, because up until the ridiculous incident when Justin Timberlake ripped off her corset, revealing her nipple, her costume was actually quite striking. A long-sleeved, studded black leather corset trimmed with slashes of red with long, samurai-inspired panels over loose black pants and combat boots, the costume highlighted her crisp dance moves and impressive physique. In many ways, it set the trend for the hip hop costumes of the next decade.
Prince has always been masterful in the use of color, and his 2007 Superbowl appearance proved it. Wearing an open-necked gold-orange shirt under a vivid turquoise jacket with black detailing and playing a bright purple guitar in the shape of his former name symbol, Prince cut quite the figure amidst the “purple rain.”
2011, Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas went with a futuristic, almost robotic theme of black leather and silver studding. Despite the clunky boots, the lines were sleek and clean, and despite the long tunics on the men, the cut and fabric had enough give to allow for movement without looking stiff or awkward. Each costume had its own personality, yet they all worked together for a unified look.
Madonna made a rather magnificent entrance wearing an elaborate Viking-inspired helmet and a gold-and-black lame cape over a black minidress with thigh-high boots, long gloves, and an armored gold-trimmed overskirt – her outfit and her entrance would not have been out of place on stage in an opera at The Met. Later in the show she scaled down to the minidress, boots, and a wide gold belt, then added metallic gold pom-poms. The opening look was great, but the scaled-down look (with the exception of those spectacular boots) was rather boring, and I much preferred Nicki Minaj’s red and black minidress paired with openwork black-and-gold boots and a platinum wig.
As I mentioned tonight on Facebook, Beyonce’s performance look has become rather stale, but in 2013 it was still working for her. This beautifully detailed black leather bustier and scrunched gloves over fishnets moved with her every move, and despite that infamous and horribly unflattering photo (which I will NOT be posting here), she looked terrific. I appreciate that a celebrity who is not a typical Hollywood size 2 was unafraid to show off her body, and kudos to her for using it well.
2015, Katy Perry
Perry earned points for an absolutely spectacular entrance wearing this orange and yellow flame dress and riding an enormous origami lion (tiger? bear? some impressive beast, anyway), then changing into an adorable retro bikini-and-skirt ensemble, plus extra points for the sharks (double extra points for the awesomeness of Left Shark). Her outfits were fun, flirty, and flattering, without being inappropriately revealing or sexy for what is often a family audience.
2016, Lady Gaga
Yes, I know that Lady Gaga “only” sang the National Anthem (her rendition was beautiful and moving, I might add) and was not part of the halftime show this year, but since Beyonce wore the same old, same old, Bruno Mars was in boring black, and Coldplay was beyond casual (although the paint splashes were fun and the lead singer’s bright, multicolored tennies were terrific), the only noteworthy fashion was provided by Gaga. Her metallic red retro 70s flared pantsuit was conservative compared to her usual style, but I appreciated that she toned it down for the occasion. Her look was completed by matching metallic red eyeshadow and bright blue nail polish, and topped with simple poofed-up hair. The color theme was a nice patriotic nod and the overall look was a perfect balance between her usual “out there” style and respect for her role. Well played.
What are some of your favorite Superbowl fashions?