Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 AMAs: Red Carpet Review

The American Music Awards are always interesting to review for red carpet fashions, because the breadth of musical genres represented means that the fashions range from country chic to haute couture to avant garde to ghetto formal. It's a wonderful opportunity for both sizzling sartorial successes and tragic tailoring trainwrecks. And we saw both last night.

One of the looks we've been seeing all over the red carpet this season is a long see-through lace gown worn over various types of undergarments. This was definitely one of the most popular styles last night, seen on Hannah Davis, Kat Graham, Idina Menzel, Gigi Hadid, and Teyana Taylor.

Davis' cobalt blue lace overlay covered a strapless black bra and high-cut panty set, with long, slightly belled sleeves and a flared train. Feminine, elegant, and not too revealing, the graceful lines of the lace and the undergarments were sultry without being tacky, and the gorgeous color set her dress apart from the mainstream black version. 

Graham's fishnet-patterned overlay was low cut in front and had oddly flared sleeves and a high slit in the straight skirt. She was braless and wore a low, straight-cut panty that created an unflattering line at the widest point of her hip. Her ding-toed stance did not help the line of this boring, droopy dress. 

Menzel's strapless column featured a black and silver starburst over the leotard-style undergarment, and the skirt flared into a long, graceful train. It created beautiful lines and looked less bare than many other versions. 

Hadid's white lace column wasn't quite as see-through as some, which I really liked. I also liked the variations of zig-zag patterns in the lace and the to-the-waist ruffle on the bodice, although it was worn a bit too low. But overall, this was a great variation of this look. 

Taylor's corseted bodice featured dropped shoulders and an opaque panel at the front and back, with opaque fabric at the base of the bodice creating pretty arched lines over the hip. The hem flared into a slightly ruffled train. It was perfectly tailored to her figure and although somewhat racier than a few other versions, it hinted more than revealed.


Another extremely popular detail seen on many attendees was the extremely plunging neckline, worn by Lady Gaga, Milla Jovovich, Bailee Madison, Bebe Rexha, Hailee Steinfeld, and Olivia Munn.

Gaga opted for the shirtless tuxedo look, with a tailored white tuxedo jacket, wide-legged pants (slightly too long, but otherwise gorgeously cut), and a huge white picture hat. I loved the feminine touches of the hat and the satin underlay of the lapels. A nice twist on an old favorite. 

Jovovich's plunging neckline was mirrored by a deep and wide front slit in a beautifully textured black column with just a bit of peekaboo paneling at the waist and in the sleeves. The long straight lines gave her beautiful height and the stark black worked well with her coloring. A very striking look. 

I loved the fabric of Madison's swirled pink metallic column, and the narrowness of her v-neck wsa flattering and looked more secure than many of the other plunging necklines. The simple silhouette and sleek updo balanced the busy-ness of the fabric beautifully.
Rexha's neckline was too wide and insecure-looking, but I did love the way it wrapped into the waist, and the waist-high slit paired with over-the-knee suede boots was the perfect complement to the fabulous jungle print. A slightly narrowed neckline and this look would have been perfect. 

Steinfeld's turquoise romper tucked the deep vee into a wide leather belt, and appeared to continue into an endless loop forming the skirt/shorts and wrapping back up into a capelet, which was a great touch. Her long, wavy hair cascading to cover some of the exposed skin softened the look and made it work for me. This is a great example of taking a popular trend in a unique direction and using really creative design techniques. A terrific look all around. 

Munn's print babydoll dress had a higher and broader neckline than most, which might have worked except for all the posing and movements she had to do as a presenter, which made me very nervous for a potential wardrobe malfunction. But the skirt, although alarmingly short, hits her at the perfect length, the flared ruffles on the sleeves add a nice detail, and the tiny black belt with a bow break up the busy watercolor print just right. And the colors are lovely on her.


I don't often critique the men on the red carpet, because so many of them are often so generic. But despite a somewhat generic pattern of skinny-legged tuxes, the men generally did well last night in creating some unique looks worthy of commentary.

James Bay put the "skinny" in "skinny pants" in these impossibly slim black velvet trousers, paired with a short black and silver brocade jacket, plain black tee, and wide-brimmed hat. I loved the combination of textures in the fabrics, and although the hat was a bit small, it was an interesting and funky touch. Nicely done. 

Gabriel Conte's elegant black and white plaid skinny tux featured a black satin shawl collar and was paired with a black turtleneck and perfectly white sneakers. The impeccable cut and tailoring of the suit, along with his perfectly-coiffed hair, made for an elegant and eye-catching look.

Mason Cook opted for a more traditionally cut tuxedo, with slim but not skinny pants, worn with a black dress shirt and narrow black tie and pointy-toed dress shoes. The beautiful but not-too-bright teal color brought it to the next level and created some personality. A great classic and youthful look with just the right touch of pizzazz. 

Naill Horan's gray suit with perpendicular pinstripes (I'm sure there's a name for this pattern of fabric but I'm not sure what it is) had a nice, subtle sheen, and it worked well with the plain white pocket square and open-necked white shirt. But the brown shoes were a big fat miss. Tsk tsk.

Similar to James Bay, Tim McGraw also sported impossibly skinny skinny pants paired with a silvery-black brocade jacket and a hat. However, McGraw stuck with his country roots with jeans and a cowboy hat, and his tuxedo jacket featured a narrow satin shawl collar and matching cuffs on the pushed-up sleeves, worn over an open-necked placket shirt. A great look, combining country sensibilities with formal touches. 

Shawn Mendes went more casual, with a black leather biker jacket over looser-fitting black dress pants and a textured charcoal gray shirt. Impeccably polished boots and swept back hair completed the look nicely. 

Co-host Jay Pharoah went for class in this polished deep blue suit with notched satin lapels, white dress shirt, and narrow black satin tie, finished off with perfectly shiny pointy-toed dress shoes. A very elegant look. 

Sting mixed casual and class with slim-fit dark pants and casual jacket over a gray tee with black sneakers. Not a bad look, but shame on him for forgetting the sometimes-always-never rule of jacket buttons. Never button the bottom button unless the jacket is hanging on a hanger, not on you!

Ty Dolla $ign (how it pains me to type that) started with a simple base of black skinny jeans and a basic black tee, but then dressed it up with million-dollar dress shoes and a fantastic shiny leather jacket with broad, short lapels and patterned front inserts, topped off with a Smokey Bear hat and cool round shades. Classy and unique. 


I'm always interested to see how groups make their looks work together (or don't). This year's groups, for the most part, did a nice job of creating unique individual looks that were still unified in some way among the whole group. 

Green Day's wild hair and guyliner alone tended to unify them, but so did their choice of interesting textures and fabrics used in similar cut suits and a black and white palette. From black on black, to black velvet paired with a black-and-white patterned shirt, to shiny silver lame over black, each of these three personalized their look while fitting into the style of the group as a whole. 

The Chainsmokers went with the popular style of skinny-cut tuxedos, but personalized them with contrasting colored print shirts, which was a nice touch. 

The three members of Forever In Your Mind didn't do such a good job of coordinating their looks, outside of wearing black, slim-cut pants. A psychedelically-patterned colored sweater on one, a black-and-white polka-dotted shirt on another, a shiny tux and formal shirt on the third, along with a mixture of pant lengths just didn't create any sense that these three belonged together. 

Fifth Harmony's red carpet look was nicely unified, with all black (okay, technically I think the middle dress is navy, but it's close enough to count) dresses in varied cuts and textures, with lots of wide diagonal swaths and tall strappy sandals. Each look suited the wearer's figure and personality, yet they all worked together. 

Their onstage look, however, was less successful. It wasn't so much that it wasn't unified - everyone seemed to be wearing rags held together by corset lacings - but that it was ugly, mostly because everyone seemed to be wearing rags held together by corset lacings.


Finally, there were some hits and misses worthy of mention. Some of these hit the mark and some didn't, but at least their wearers all took a risk and went outside the mainstream trends.

Cam's bright yellow column was a bit conservative by AMA standards, but the halter top was beautifully draped and fitted, the waist detailing was lovely and unusual, and the cascade of the skirt with just a peep of gladiator sandal was right on target. 

Ciara's gown seemed an odd pairing of a thick black turtleneck with puffy shoulders with a 1980s bi-level and bi-color bubble skirt. The proportions were all wrong and looked clunky and heavy instead of airy. 

I loved the fabric of Noah Cyrus' gown, but the style just didn't work with it. It wasn't quite see-through enough to fit into the first category I reviewed above, but instead just looked like her underwear was showing through. At least it was nicely cut, modest underwear? Meh, the whole look was just tired and droopy.

Daya's strapless romper almost worked, with its smooth line through the hip, ending in a narrow but baggy cuffed leg and the perfect pointy sandals. But the flap pockets on the hip fall at an unflattering level, making her hips look wide and low. The devil is in the details.

Nina Dobrev's romper worked really well, with its black-and-silver mesh tuxedo jacket and shorts with black satin shawl collar and pocket flaps, over a see-through black corset which just barely peeped out of the jacket. The sideswept long wavy hair, pointed ankle-strap pumps, and tiny black clutch were the perfect finishing touches to a great look.

Lauren Giraldo looked to me as if she were about to do some trick horseback riding in a circus. The art deco pattern on her leotard was pretty, as was the cascading cream chiffon train, but the bare-legged look was too unfinished. Bonus points for her fabulous gold shoes, though.
Ariana Grande hit all the right notes in her wide-legged white pants with a gorgeous short black lace bodice and her trademark dark lipstick and high, tight, long ponytail. It was simple and flattering, with just enough details to add interest.
The shimmer of Skylar Grey's pants and bodice added a bit of extra opacity so her outfit didn't look too exposed. I loved the open shirt worn as a jacket and the black button detail on the pants. I would have preferred a button or two more buttoned up in her undershirt, but she made a good choice to wear just a tiny chain necklace and allow her neck tattoo to be her main chest adornment. 



 Heidi Klum's metallic romper was a completely retro cut, with its nearly bell bottom flared pantlegs, its puffed sleeves, and its primly-tied trailing bow at the neck. If anyone could have pulled it off, it would have been Heidi, but she didn't. Auf!

I adored Jeannie Mai's cleverly-patterned white gown with red and black "tiles" down the front. It was as if she had a narrow column gown painted onto her flared white gown with a train. An unusual, fun, and eye-catching look. 

Keke Palmer could have used a bit more coverage and support under her two-piece mesh dress, but I still liked her look. The fabric draped and moved beautifully, the detailed neck insert was lovely, and the puffy pale pink faux fur coat and pink sunglasses added a touch of color and femininity that softened what could have been a too-severe look. Not perfect, but very different and fun. 

 Rebecca Romijn's gown featured a see-through bodice over a cobalt satin bra and coordinated bi-level full skirt with slightly contrasting lining. The skirt was just a hair too high-waisted and slightly too tight for her (unfortunately quite noticeable when she was presenting), but the color was great and the style was interesting.

And I can't help but end with Z Lala, who seems to be in the Cher-Lady Gaga school of fashion. Not only did she sport this shinier-than-shiny black space oddity with mermaid-cut waist, pointy bust, and molded, rounded shoulderpads, her hair was slicked into an impossible tidal wave ending in a point in front of her face on one end and a widow's peak down to the tip of her nose on the other. It might be a really weird look, but it was certainly memorable, and she pulled it off well.




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