It is a source of inspiration in a variety of ways. In any case, that’s what it seemed to be based on the Grammy red carpet, which was just relocated to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the city of… oh, so many things! Sin, light, camp, and Elvis are all part of the package.
And, like with the website, the same can be said about the garments. Even if there wasn’t a consistent theme throughout the evening, it was an enthusiastic anything-goes attitude that served as a good reminder of why red carpets are so much fun in the first place. As much for those who will be watching as they are for those who will be wearing them.
Megan Thee Stallion, dressed in a one-shouldered, slit-to-the-waist Roberto Cavalli gown, channelled a complete large cat cage. St. Vincent is dressed in ruffle-trimmed Gucci with giant sweeping sleeves and a skirt that resembles the X Games version of “Showgirls.” With her short ruffled yellow Valentino dress, Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast looks every inch the daffodil she is. And Billie Eilish, channelling her inner Gothic conceptualist in a black Rick Owens coat with a neckline that seemed to have moved over her torso, implying that everyone’s viewpoint had turned kind of sideways, as seen on the runway. Who couldn’t empathise with this?
BTS wore a somewhat conservative Louis Vuitton suit (in earthy tones like clay, sand, white and teal), but V’s overblown corsage, which seemed like a full bunch of paper flowers had attached itself to the side of his jacket, brought the ensemble to life.
The colour shocking pink was the colour of the night, as seen on Billy Porter, who wore a ruffled Valentino shirtdress, cape, opera gloves, and trousers; Saweetie, who wore a Valentino bra, more gloves, and a ginormous skirt (the brand had its own patented name for the pink: Pink PP, after its designer, Pierpaolo Piccioli); Travis Barker, who wore a shocking pink coat over
As did Justin Bieber, who paired his enormous Balenciaga suit with steel-tipped Balenciaga Crocs and a bright pink hat to complete his ensemble.
The pink gown was just the first of three — count ’em — costumes Saweetie wore during the evening, before switching it for a black Oscar de la Renta gown slashed to reveal one silver-covered breast, like an Amazon going to the prom, and then swapping that for a glistening, backless gold Etro gown.
Lil Nas X, though, was a dazzling rhinestone on one of Elvis’s jumpsuits, and he was the glitziest of the glitz. While wearing pearl-encrusted Balmain with butterfly details to start his performance, he changed into dazzling Zorro black to finish it, which he then swapped for a pearl-encrusted marching band jacket with gold braid to finish the show. When it came to Giveon, his Chanel black bouclé “denim” jacket and pants glittered as brightly as the night sky above the desert. Chanel for men’s clothing! What’s the harm in trying?
Then there was Jon Batiste, who made his appearance in a harlequin sequin suit with silver, gold, and black harlequin stripes in homage of his hometown of New Orleans. Designer Dolce & Gabbana created the suit, which was outdone only by the diamante-bedecked cape he wore to accept his Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The brand, which was previously cancelled because of its history of politically incorrect behaviour appears to be behind the decision, at least as far as celebrities are concerned.
Brandi Carlile was the only real competition in the sparkle stakes, wearing a rainbow-bejeweled Boss tuxedo that she told E! host Laverne Cox weighed about “40 pounds” (anything for fashion), and that she said both made her feel “like a boss” and was an homage to Elton John, the king of fantastical costume, and that she said both made her feel “like a boss.”
Indeed, there was a tinge of nostalgia coursing through the air throughout the evening. In an egg yolk-yellow Dundas jumpsuit with caped sleeves and phoenix embroidery, H.E.R. donned a nod to Aretha Franklin’s 1976 American Music Awards outfit, which was a clear allusion to Aretha Franklin’s 1976 American Music Awards ensemble. Leon Bridges, dressed in white with gold embroidery, had a very Elvis Presley air about him, as did the rest of the cast. When it came to her golden oldies medley, Lady Gaga went full-on midcentury silver screen siren in black Armani Privé with swags of white satin at the side before shifting into an Elie Saab satin piece with a giant bow at the rear, like she was dressed as a gift-wrapped Jean Harlow.
Olivia Rodrigo accessorised her corseted Vivienne Westwood dress with a necklace that was popular in the 1990s. The singer also emulated Donatella Versace, who she looked like while wearing her long blonde locks down and a bondage gown from the 1992 Versace “Miss S&M” line.
Despite this, the Versace gown was not the only vintage piece on display. SZA walked the runway in a 2006 nude tulle Jean Paul Gaultier gown with a garden’s worth of flowers blooming down the front, while Laverne Cox walked the runway in a lacy black John Galliano gown from the same year. It was the closest anybody had gotten to value signalling via clothing.
Yet, towards the end of the night, among all the frolic and frivolity, the one garment that stood out the most was possibly the most simple and least formal of them all: the T-shirt worn by Billie Eilish for her performance on the red carpet. It was a fashion statement of the most emotional and effective sort, since it featured Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer who passed away in late March, as its star.