The main difference between film & TV awards shows versus music awards shows is, you guessed it, the performances. This year, those performances are what made The Grammys feel surprisingly like any other ceremony held prior to the pandemic—as the NYTimes put it, “[It] didn’t feel like a video conference.”
Considering the number of slights we’ve seen at previous Grammys, this one was also monumental in recognizing artists of color for their exemplary contributions to various genres (although we’re still feeling some type of way about Megan Thee Stallion not winning Record of The Year, “Savage Remix” defined 2020 for too many of us).
Below we’ll outline the looks, wins, and details present at the 2021 Grammys Awards Show.
Oh Bey and Meg. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: We Are Simply Not Worthy. Also, you both look breathtaking.
Ode to Musical Predecessors
The Grammys have been referenced for infamous stylistic moments since they’ve been around. From Cher’s many scanty and Bob Mackie-curated looks to Grace Jones’ sculptural ensembles to Prince’s 1988 fully polka-dotted suit with polka-dotted heels to match, the outfits at awards shows make for fashion history and unforgettable evenings. This year, a few artists decided to pay tribute to their musical predecessors by way of strategic styling. The butterfly detail on Dua Lipa’s Versace gown was a reference to Mariah, Xtina (during her Xtina era, of course), and Cher—3 incredible female stars who need only one name to be recognized and are overall fantastic artists worthy of tribute. Similarly, Haim, dressed in periwinkle Prada, alluded to the many girl groups of the late ‘90s/early aughts who also wore color-coordinated looks like Destiny’s Child in slinky forest green gowns designed by Tina Knowles, Salt-N-Pepa in their 1996 mint power suits, or TLC in their iconic white silk ensembles that very same year. If these monochrome group looks have taught us anything, it’s that there’s power in tonal solidarity.
We have homework for you: look up Cher’s 1974 Grammys look as well TLC’s 1996 Grammys look. You’re welcome.
Designers, Houses, and Muses, Oh My!
In my opinion, the 3 houses that dominated the night were Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. Having dressed the most publicized stars of the night like Megan Thee Stallion, Harry Styles, and Billie Eilish, it’s really no surprise we’re writing about them. We’ve all seen Harry’s laidback, Jagger-esque performance of “Watermelon Sugar” dressed in a black Gucci leather suit featuring tailoring that is traditionally found in womenswear (cinched waist, flared hems, and tight on the booty) and, of course, the sage feather boa that spread wildly on social media (and will likely be the go-to Halloween costume this year as it was phenomenally androgynous). Alessandro Michele also dressed Anderson .Paak in a vibrant brocade blazer with notched lapels and flared slacks that have recently become a trademark of the Italian house. However, we can’t speak about fashion houses and breakout stars without mentioning newcomer Megan Thee Stallion, her 3 wins, and her tangerine dream of a Dolce & Gabbana gown. Sexy and exquisitely tailored, this dress featured a slit that ran up to her hip and an oversized taffeta bow on the back that produced a winged effect when she faced cameras. Simply savage.
Harry, defying everyone’s sexual orientation and identity because we are all madly attracted to him and Megan, holding her first 3 Grammys (and we’re manifesting many more for her in the coming years).
Mask Up, Covid-19 Is Still Here
Although the production this year made us forget about the pandemic for a couple of hours, we quite literally can’t forget that there’s still a pandemic going on. To keep us grounded in reality (but still, you know, fashionable), a few artists craftily incorporated masks into their red carpet looks. Taylor Swift, whose outfit was not my favorite but we can chalk that up to a personal aversion towards florals, paired Oscar de la Renta’s botanical gown with an equally horticultural face mask. Newcomer, Chika, similarly paired her athleisure ensemble (and Versace purse) with a protective covering that matched both the pastel color scheme, athletic material, and ruffled detailing of her completed lewk—big Missy Elliot meets Gen Z energy. And in true power-sibling spirit, both FINNEAS and Billie Eilish wore masks that coordinated with their individual suiting (and bucket hat, if you’re Billie).
Stay safe. But make it fashion.
Nothing About This Past Year Felt “Usual” Per Se
So it would make sense that there was also a fun panoply of highly unusual looks. Of the most unexpected outfits we saw, I’d say Phoebe Bridgers was the winner. The LA-artist stole hearts this year with her melancholy serenades of loneliness and lost love—her haute-couture skeleton pajama (by Thom Browne), a tribute to her goth aesthetic, was just as charming as her musical output. It’s expected to see unconventional artists wear outfits that match this facet of their persona, which is why Bad Bunny’s literal bunny-eared beanie didn’t surprise me as much as it made me smile and feel very proud to be both Latinx and odd. He paired his fully Burberry ensemble with a sunflower that made him all the more lovable. As the Boricua musician would say “Tamos bien.” (Translation: we good.)
Both Phoebe Bridgers and Bad Bunny make dark and brooding look so… adorable? We can thank their individual magic for that.
The Grammys, personally, are a bit more exciting than the Oscars or Golden Globes in terms of fashion. Musicians carry the history of their genre and artistry wherever they go it seems, so it’s always refreshing to see their clothing reflect that vibe—however lowkey or boisterous that vibe may be.