VMA Fashion 2011: Drag Kings with a Side of Cheese

August 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

(l-r) Katy Perry in Armani and, later, in Dior Couture

Facebook leaked the 3 big stories of the VMAs before we had a chance to see it:

  1. Beyoncé is pregnant.
  2. Lady Gaga performed as her drag alter-ego, Jo Calderon.
  3. Britney Spears was present.

After going through the standard rigmarole of watching American tv in Seoul, we got to see what these stories were about, and the clothes that spoke of transformation. Beyoncé, whose latest album is more dining room than dance hall, already exhibited a maternal glow as she walked down the red carpet in an orange Lanvin caftan that gently revealed her baby bump. Lady Gaga eschewed the extravagant costumes that people have come to expect of her for an understated Dior Homme blazer that allowed her to perform as an entertaining, if overwrought, drag king. Britney’s ill-fitting romper signaled her transition from pop star princess to fading star. Her acceptance of the “Vanguard Award” – an honor bestowed on her by La Gaga himself – felt like a eulogy of a bygone career.

(l-r) Joe Calderone, Britney Spears, and Beyonce

But fashion also did what fashion does, which is make celebrities look gorgeous. Kelly Rowland shone in a Falguni & Shane Peacock minidress embezzled with gold sequins, leather bands, and fluffy peacock feathers. It was the right fusion of fashion and fun, and it showed Roland can hold her own as a solo star. British soul singer Adele also looked stunning in a simple Burberry cocktail dress with retro, geometric detailing at the neck. She looked prim and proper, which seemed particularly appropriate when the camera cut to her horrified expressions during the on-stage antics of her much less civilized American counterparts (she looked particularly traumatized while watching Jo Calderone dancing [then falling?] on a piano after taking a swig from a beer).

(l-r) Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Fall 2009, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga

We live in a celebrity fashion world that Lady Gaga has set into motion, and nowhere else do celebrities really just get to lose their $#%! than at the VMAs. Nicki Minaj recalled equal parts Gaga and Jean Paul Gaultier in a space-age Gehry-esque dress that looked as if it had been styled by a hoard of Harajuku girls. Tucked underneath the metal dress were a pink tutu and layers of printed stockings. She wore an ice cream cone around her neck and placed additional coils of yellow and pink locks on her head.

It was refreshing to see that there is a place for the critically panned Dior Couture show, which is right on top of Katy Perry’s head. Perry looked liked a high fashion cartoon – like Strawberry Shortcake gone couture – when she went on stage to accept her moonman for Video of the Year while sporting a giant cube of cheese on her head. Before that, she walked the red carpet in a short, cap-sleeve dress by Atelier Armani. It was sky blue and accented with neon yellow piping, hot pink flowers, and some carefully placed cut-outs. Baby, you’re a firework.

(l-r) Miley Cyrus, Kelly Rowland, and Adele

It was sad then to see someone’s inner firecracker die as it did when Miley Cyrus donned a monstrous Roberto Cavalli number. Rather than look fun, directional, or batshit crazy, the dress made her look old and depressing. If she had accessorized the dress with a pitch fork and seashell necklace à la Ursula from The Little Mermaid, she might have fit the occasion better.

Women weren’t the only fashion victims stars of the night. Kanye continues his love affair with high fashion in a head-to-toe designer denim number consisting of Balmain jeans and an ombré denim shirt from Theyskens’ Theory. It was a pared down look that echoed West’s conspicuously polite behavior (we’re assuming he’s still smarting from the fallout after the 2009 VMAs). Bruno Mars looked equally dashing in a throw-back, periwinkle blazer with black lapel. He styled the look with an exaggerated pompadour, which might have looked good had it not enlarged his head and made his body resemble that of a lilliputian. For the first few seconds of his performance, we thought the producers had re-released the kids on stage from the Britney homage.

The VMAs aren’t really about looking good; we can save that for the Grammys or the Oscars. It’s an opportunity to try something that you can’t try anywhere else. What’s not to love about that?


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