I’m going to be honest: I had to turn off the Billboard Music Awards a few moments in, unofficially because Westworld was starting, officially because I could not deal with Kelly Clarkson as host. That doesn’t mean I didn’t flip to the ultimate queen and my birthday twin Janet Jackson when she performed; it does mean I left more brain space for the red carpet LEWKS. Ms. Jackson wore princess tulle, a white tee, a punk belt, and hoops that, in a pinch, could double as chakram. In other words, quintessentially Janet: a little bit tomboy, a little bit playful, a lot royalty.
Award show hegemony continues to infiltrate music shows—which by rights of the culture should be free from stylists hawking black-tie gowns—but some at these awards were doing their thing. Katy Perry signee Cyn kept it cute in a playful floral mini, and I am just loving her triangular bob. Kesha is further signaling to us her desire to honor her Nashville upbringing in a hippie, rambling cowgirl look that both Gram Parsons and Stevie Nicks would give the thumbs up.
Ne-Yo’s crimson double-breasted suit is a showstopper, and I love Jennifer Lopez’s burgundy alligator-and-velvet Roberto Cavalli number for multiple reasons: 1. She’s like, if we’re all gonna start dressing like it’s 2001 again, might as well jump right in the pool; 2. It’s 90 degrees out and she’s wearing winter fabrics without a drop of sweat; 3. Full-on Charlie’s Angels. I realize I am not in the majority on this issue, though, so feel free to voice your disconcertion in the comments.
Bebe Rexha and Tyra Banks seem to be having a sleeve accoutrement standoff; what the former lacks in style, she makes up for in breadth. Camila Cabello’s fringe is cute, and I’m dying for Dua Lipa’s purple lamé Alexander Vauthier, though I would not have accessorized with Jennifer Aniston’s necklace.
Bhad Bhabie’s black-tie look is sleekening her ponytail! I love it. Ciara and Justine Skye are still with the sheer gown look, which is best in summer, and Padma Lakshmi’s pewter Grecian gown is giving Wonder Woman vibes, cause Zeus is her zaddy.
En Vogue and Sandra Denton and Spinderella of Salt ‘n’ Pepa each came in sleek looks for their honorary performances—I especially love how Spinderella wore a look reminiscent of a vinyl record. Pauly D and “The Ritas” came as probably the first red carpet #spon that has ever been this explicit: dude got paid for repping Pineapple-ritas on the carpet. Craven, but also in full keeping with today’s Gucci obsession.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that not only are BTS the biggest band in the world, they are impeccably tailored, each and every one of them. Gucci!
Generally, I’m a fan of anyone matching their look to their pastel hair, but this Hot Topic party dress on Bonnie McKee is a no for me. Same with Demi Lovato’s leopard caftan, a sentiment I thought I would never possess in my life. Julia Michaels is more prom-y than anything, while Christina Aguilera’s ill-fitting pinstriped gown—which had an entire train, ugh—is all wrong. Next time try a fabric that is not so heavy? Who did this to her!!!
When all else fails, basic black: Uber boss Bozoma Saint John’s sparkly and pretty in a club look, though I’m a little worried about Chantel Jeffries’s skintight catsuit. Chrissy Metz’s one-shoulder gown is flirty like Kelly Clarkson’s, though she could have used some of that Clarkson magic on the belt tip—just something a little sleeker, than a tassel cord.
Frankie J. Grande’s silver tuxedo jacket and hotpants are almost perfect, but the oversized velcro sneakers are throwing me off. Jenna Dewan and Mila Kunis went for hardwear party looks, while Normani looks like a person who is trying to become a household mononym: freed from the now Third(ish) Harmonies, she is absolutely going to wear her nightgown in public. “Don’t sleep,” it says.
Alison Brie doesn’t really need to be here. Grace Vanderwaal does, though, and she brought one of my favorite looks of the night: a pinstripe suit and sparkly socks with an open-toe platform, an ensemble that made me google who the hell shit is! This Kygo pic is unremarkable but I put it here for Joanna’s mom. Hi Jane! Here’s “Queen Hvrby,” who you might recognize as the woman from Karmin trying to rebrand herself for the instagram generation, except she doesn’t know that “herby” is a ripping insult. I like the shoes.
Some portraits, they’re nice.
Evan Ross is giving me smoking pants realness, while Riff Raff and Z LaLa are trying to get on your IG. You know I will give it up to Swift if she freaks an ensemble, but this Versace is giving me granny vibes, and not in the Gucci style.
Chloe Kim’s ’90s frock is super cute, and Hailey Baldwin came giving her typical old-world Hollywood red carpet style. Maren Morris and Patrick Starr brought a little fun to it, and I hope they hung out later and took flicks, because they make an amazing style story.
Saved the best-dressed boys for last: 21 Savage is the first person I’ve seen who actually looks cool in the dad sneaker—I don’t know how; John Legend’s contrasting (Gucci!) patterns are a dream; Luis Fonsi is a classic man; and Quavo’s pop-art shirt is a perfect flip on the Warhol can. Remember, kids, music red carpets are supposed to be fun and daring! Tell it to your stylists.