Monday, February 13, 2017

Red Carpet Fashion Review: The 2017 Grammy Awards

I did watch the Grammy Awards live last night, so keep in mind that some of my comments on these looks are based on how they looked on stage or in the audience, not just in the posted photos. As I often comment, some fashions look great in still photos but don't move well, and others look fabulous while being worn but less so in posed photos. These comments take both those settings into account.

Now, on to the reviews! I have grouped most of the looks into categories.

Ladies in Red

There were some fabulous candy apple red gowns last night, sported by Carrie Underwood, Charli XCX, Faith Hill, Mya, and Beyonce. Underwood's spangled column featured a large, diamond-shaped cutout on the bodice, bell sleeves, a deep center slit, and a small train. It was sleek and chic. Charli's column had an extremely deep sweetheart neckline, a short train, and textured fabric, but it was also strangely bunched in below the knee, forming almost a "hobble skirt" style. It made the silhouette of the skirt lumpy and unbalanced, which is a shame, because the rest of the look was really lovely and flattering. Hill's column was of a more casual jersey fabric, which clung nicely to her toned figure, and similar to Underwood's, featured a diamond cutout and deep center slit. The squared-off shoulders and long, fitted sleeved worked well with the more casual fabric, and Hill looked both comfortable and elegant. Mya opted for a feminine satin pantsuit with a shawl-collared jacket, bandeau top covered by a long draped bow, and wide-legged pants. Extra points for the complete lack of wrinkles in the pants, which is no easy feat with that cut and that fabric. Lastly, Beyonce's red carpet look (we won't even get into that Balinese goddess getup she wore to perform) was a sleek sequined gown with just the right amount of fullness in the skirt, a short train, nicely tailored fitted sleeves, and a slightly-too-open-for-pregnancy-boobs bodice. But extra points for the stunning diamond necklace. Had the bodice been a few inches narrower, this would have been a perfect look. These were all really good looks.


Given the more casual atmosphere of the Grammys, we often see a variety of pantsuits and mixed separates on the red carpet. Three very different pants looks were seen last night on Halsey, Jill Scott, and Trace Lysette. Halsey's outfit was a good concept gone horribly awry. Although the color was gorgeous, the fabric was wrinkled and saggy all over instead of being smooth and crisp, the pants and sleeves were much too long, and the pajama-style top was droopy and unflattering, as well as being much too open for not wearing anything underneath. Had this look been well-tailored and properly fitted, and paired with a lacy corset or bandeau top, it would have been a stunner. However, as is, it looked like she rolled out of bed and directly into the limo. Scott, however, benefitted from really excellent tailoring. Her black-and-white checked, double-breasted suit was perfectly fitted to her curves, and the choice of a tiny peep of black corset, black buttons, and understated white shoes really worked well, along with a whimsical jeweled hair clip shaped like sunglasses. Lysette's look was halfway between these two, with a softer, midnight blue fabric with black leather trim shaping nicely to her curves and flaring slightly at the hip and hem. The plunging neckline was not too open but still sultry. Well, two out of three ain't bad in this category.

Mature Looks

Older performers often struggle more at the Grammys than at other red carpet events, since it's more difficult to pull off the usual "edgy" looks after a certain age. Both Enya and Judy Collins chose more subdued yet still elegant looks last night. Enya's white gown had a lace overlay capelet trimmed with black beading that added just enough visual interest and softness, and Collins' long black lace gown had a broad v-neck and a slightly full skirt which was both dramatic and feminine. Well-played for both.

Novelty Looks

The Grammys are especially a magnet for wild and crazy novelty looks. (Remember Gaga's space dress from 2015, Dencia's pink Hello Kitty footie pajamas last year, or Nicki Minaj's red satin hooded cape from 2012?) There were at least five "crazy" looks last night: CeeLo Green, Girl Crush, Joy Villa, Lady Gaga (you're shocked by this one, I'm sure), and Jacqueline Van Bierk. Green is apparently in the process of creating some kind of alter ego called Gnarly Davidson. It's gnarly, all right. A stiff, floor-length, quilted gold lame robe paired with gold gloves and a gold mask/helmet (or possibly thick makeup) covered every inch of his skin and made him look robotic. The makeup/mask was impressive, if extremely weird. If it was what he was going for...well done, I guess. Girl Crush looked like the love child of the Little Mermaid and a kids' ball pit in a pink bikini top and full ballgown skirt covered with multicolored plastic balls. I would love to know how she sat down in it. It was awkward but at least colorful. Villa (who loves to make a statement on the red carpet; see also her 2015 Grammy gown made from orange construction fencing or her body-baring spiky "dress" from last year) made a political statement in a well-cut mermaid dress with a halter top and open back, emblazoned with the phrase "Make America Great Again" and the word "TRUMP" in jeweled letters across the back of the train. Other than the obnoxious politicizing, it was a great dress. And finally, Gaga did not disappoint in her black leather biker ensemble, complete with thigh-high platform boots, hot pants with multiple chains hanging from the belt, and a high cut (in all directions) bolero jacket with spiky eyelash sleeve details, which revealed acres of underboob. Other than the excess underboob, I could really have gotten behind this look, particularly considering her tribute to Metallica during the show (I hate heavy metal music but I admit this is the right look for it). Van Bierk wore a single-shouldered white trumpet gown with a huge tulle pouf on the shoulder, which was not that novel, but then the whole gown was covered with CDs, which created a really fun reflective effect. She accessorized with bright turquoise gloves which matched her turquoise hair, for an overall fun and whimsical look. This was novelty done really well.

Short Dresses

Short dresses are also quite common at the Grammys, and there were three short dresses in particular that caught my eye, worn by Giuliana Rancic, Heidi Klum, and Taraji P. Henson. From the waist up, Rancic's high-necked, long-sleeved, wide-belted, white lace gown looked prim and almost Victorian. But the short skirt, ending in a small pleated ruffle matching the trim on the sleeves and neckline made it work on her. Rancic is quite tall but very slight, and often ends up being worn by the dress rather than the other way around, but this look worked really well on her (although I think an ivory or even champagne color might have been more flattering). Klum wore a simply metallic gold sheath that was practically a long t-shirt. Although it was less noticeable on the televised red carpet, still photos tended to show her boy-cut black briefs (which may have been intentional, as her bra did not seem to be equally visible). But they were modest and unobtrusive, so it didn't bother me much. Henson's purple satin dress was embellished with silver curlicues and ruffled epaulets, and could have been a real winner if it hadn't been quite so tight. She tugged at her skirt when she arrived at the podium to present, as if the dress was riding up as she walked - a sure sign that the dress doesn't fit as it should. I also found her slicked-back hair to be too severe with the softer lines and broad shoulders of the dress. Almost right, but not quite.

Cleavage-Baring Necklines

Any red carpet event always has plenty of cleavage on display, and last night was no exception. Although it was mainly plunging v-necks, there were a few other styles of cleavage-baring gowns in parade. This category includes Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Kristin Cavallari, and Tinashe. Dion was stunning in an emerald spangled column with plunging neckline and open-fronted skirt drawn into a wide green ribbon belt with a diamond buckle. It emphasized her tall, slender figure, and was just soft enough to offset her severe, slicked-back hairstyle which set off her gorgeous diamond drop earrings. Lopez wore a soft lavender chiffon gown with a full train and an open keyhole neckline, although I wasn't a fan of the stiff tulle poufed collar. Cavallari's black halter gown had a broad, curved v-neck held together by tiny straps, but the feature I really loved was the side slit with full black mesh insert. The unexpected detail added interest to what could have been a bland gown and instead made it quite striking. Tinashe's black satin gown had some interesting criss-cross straps, but the overly open bodice and cleavage was not flattering - her breasts seemed to be defying gravity in a very artificial and not pretty way. Definitely a bit of a mixed bag in this category. 

Frothy and Feminine

"Frothy" and "feminine" encompass a lot of different types of looks, from voluminous ballgowns to floral fabrics to ruffles and bows, and we saw all of that on the red carpet, most notably from Camila Cabello, Elle King, Kelsea Ballerini, and Tori Kelly. Cabello's somewhat traditional ballgown was beautifully structured, from the crisp, high-necked bodice to the full (but not ruffly) skirt. The fabric had just a few floral embellishments, which combined nicely with the crispness of the fabric to create a feminine but not girly effect. The lavender and silver undertones also worked beautifully with her loosely waved brunette locks. King's look was almost reminiscent of a Renaissance fair, with an off-the-shoulder bodice and full skirt in pale pink embellished with hundreds of roses, accessorized with a floral crown. If she were less confident, it might not have worked, but she looked like she absolutely adored the effect and that sold the whole thing. I look forward to her future red carpet appearances. (Fun fact: She is the daughter of actor/comedian Rob Schneider.) Ballerini's gown receives the "frothy" moniker from me based on the layers of silver-star-studded tulle in the train of her column dress, along with the silver ribbon details on the arms, which create a dreamy, fairy-like effect that works well with her slight frame and blonde coloring. Kelly took the "feminine" look is a completely different direction in this bold green off-the-shoulder gown, with its long shoulder ruffle and ruffles wrapping around the skirt, which ends at the knee in front and falls to a soft train in back. A print fabric or a lighter-weight fabric might have made the look too girlish, but the combination of a bold solid, a heavy fabric, and a slender silhouette made this a terrific look. Well done all around in this category.

Lace and Openwork

Crocheted and other openwork lace fabrics have been gaining popularity on the red carpet. We saw variations of this theme on Chrissy Teigen, Kriss Mincey, Maren Morris, and Demi Lovato last night. Teigen's gown paired a geometric black-on-black lace fabric with multiple narrow straps and lacing on the bodice and flattering triangle cutouts at the waist, creating a really intriguing combination of revealing and covering up. I didn't love the look when I saw just the bodice, but the gown taken as a whole was interesting and visually balanced. Mincey's gown was one of my absolute favorite looks of the night: sleekly fitted crocheted ivory lace in a mermaid silhouette, with champagne-colored chiffon inserts flaring from the knee, shoulder cutouts and long sleeves ending in gauntlets, and just a hint of ruffles along the hem and train were all marvelous details. Morris's bright purple gown had a lace halter with pretty scalloped edges, ending in a kind of built-in hot pants, with a narrow front panel and a wider back panel of chiffon cascading from a belt to form a full skirt with two wide front slits. The straight-across cut of the shorts were not especially flattering on her figure, but I did prefer that choice to the more common high-cut, "leotard" look often worn under this style of gown, but perhaps a longer but still mini-skirt would have worked better for her. And finally, Demi Lovato's clinging, crocheted lace column with long sleeves ending in gauntlets, high round neck, and wide diamond cutout, with its effect of "are we seeing skin or aren't we?" was a sultry but not tasteless look.


One-shouldered gowns is another trend that is becoming more and more popular, and were worn last night by Kat Graham, Laverne Cox, and Solange Knowles. Graham's bold spangled black, white, and red diagonally-striped gown was a column that ended in a rather unfortunate side train. The heaviness of the beaded fabric was too stiff for the length of the train, and did not move well. I loved Cox's tea-length leather sheath with metallic lacing up each side and a slight shoulder drape. It was simple but interesting, hip but not weird, and sexy but not revealing. Knowles, on the other hand, had a little too much of everything: the color was too mustardy, the ruffle on the sleeve was too big, the peplum was too long, and the hairstyle was too wild. I did love the pleated skirt that flared just a bit as it brushed the floor, and the short crisp pleated ruffle along the neckline, but the other details were just out of proportion. 


Metallics also encompasses a wide range of styles, three of which were sported by Katy Perry, Lauren Daigle, and Cassadee Pope. Perry's gown had two distinct sections: a loose-fitting dropped waist gold lame top with long sleeves and a high round neck, and a column skirt of champagne eyelash fabric (or possibly marabou feathers). I liked both parts, but they didn't really work together. The skirt was very 1920s but the top was distinctly 1970s. Daigle's sleek silver fitted column, on the other hand, was modern with hints of 1920s art deco beading adding just enough visual interest to make the simple cut work. Pope's silver draped gown featured an almost cowl-style neckline revealing a long but narrow line of cleavage, and the full skirt with long train flared beautiful from the hip. The fabric itself was interesting enough to not require any additional detailing. 


The two-piece gown (crop top with long skirt) seems to go in and out of fashion. It's not terribly popular now, but both Lea Michele and Rihanna wore good examples of the look. Michele's heavily embroidered black halter top and slim skirt with just a hint of train gave off a very ethnic, almost sari-inspired vibe, and worked well with her sleek, straight hair and stark makeup. Rihanna went for a much fuller, more voluminous look in a full, textured ballgown-style skirt and a bright orange halter with metallic gold banding underneath. I felt like she could have used a little more support in the top, but perhaps the curvy look was her intent. The volume of the skirt could easily have overwhelmed her, but the bright color of the top, along with her long full hair worn down, balanced out the look and she pulled it off well.

Other Looks of Note
Adele struggles with choosing age- and figure-appropriate red carpet gowns, often looking somewhat matronly. This olive green gown with pretty geometric patterning is one of her more flattering looks. The waistband hits her at the narrowest part of her body, emphasizing her curves, and the combination of soft, draping fabric with angular lines is interesting and flattering. It's not the best color on her, but I'm so happy that she's not wearing plain black again that I don't mind. 

Hillary Scott's black column with mesh yoke and covered with silver stars was simple, but fresh and pretty, and worthy of mention. It's a beautiful look without needing to be couture - which is a good thing. 

I loved how well-unified yet individual Little Big Town's looks were. The women both wore eggplant gowns, but in totally different styles that reflected their personalities: one with a long flared trumpet gown with plunging neckline, shoulder cutouts, and (I think) a small capelet, and the other an ankle-length beaded vintage gown with bell sleeves and a fringed hem. The men also both went formal in their own ways, both wearing standard black tuxes with satin collars, but one with a black shirt and black long tie, and the other with a crisp white shirt and no tie. I only wish they had kept this look for their onstage performance. 

And one final shout-out for group unity for a group called Raging Fyah: Five dark tuxes, but ranging from true black to shades of midnight blue; black shirts and white shirts; red ties, blue ties, black ties; and bow ties, long ties, and no ties. Each has their own unique look, but tied together in a shared color palette and similar level of formality. For this, I'll even forgive them the goofy spelling of their name.

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