GRAMMYS '89 : It's Noir-on-Noir Dressing for Grammy Night

Times Staff Writer

At first, it looked like a giant funeral was taking place Wednesday night at the Shrine Auditorium.

But, no, it was just the Grammy Awards being passed out.

Black was here, black was there, black was everywhere and on everybody arriving for the music industry's 31st ceremonial rites. And that included black tuxedos, black sequins, black feathered boas, black bolero vests, black gaucho hats and, of course, lots of black leather.

So, naturally, some of the biggest stars echoed the noir-on-noir fashion statement. Kris Kristofferson, who evoked a huge roar from the crowd assembled outside the front door, was his usual sartorially elegant self in black jeans, black tuxedo jacket, black-and-white spotted vest and his de rigueur black cowboy boots.

Singer-composer Thomas Dolby looked natty in a black top hat, while Little Richard, in silver studded black leather, indulged in motorcycle chic.

Of course, not everyone wore black and a few confident souls bucked the trend. Michael Keaton, who managed to dodge reporters, looked more like Cary Grant than Batman--his newest movie role--in a white dinner jacket.

And country singer K. D. Lang opted for a city-slickened electric purple tux with studs.

"Full House" actor John Stamos and Beach Boy Mike Love, arriving together and wearing the same black motif, announced that Stamos would accompany the Beach Boys on drums this summer on a syndicated TV special as well as make a tour together.

British singer Samantha Fox, who wore hot pink streaks in her blond hair to liven up her black pants outfit, swore that "London has nothing like this."

But no awards ceremony would be complete without a little bit of controversy. A Rolls-Royce convertible pulled up to the Shrine entrance with a big yellow sign on its side proclaiming: "Free the Godfather of Soul" (a reference to the jailed James Brown).

Even Iggy Pop, considered the "Godfather" of punk, and usually flamboyant R&B; signer Pebbles looked downright boring in their all-black duds.

As usual, the AAA-list music stars, at least those who deigned to attend the Grammys, did not show up at the main entrance. Instead, they went around back to another less-public door. Except for their lack of imagination in their color choice, the Grammy guests showed once again that the music industry still has a lock on the cutting edge of fashion.

There were sweaters substituting for tuxedo jackets, pouffed skirts and strapless bodices in every imaginable shape and size, along with lace gloves, gold lame and even--for the men--multicolored bow ties.

In truth , the color most favored next to black was skin-tone. In their micro-minis, plunging necklines and bare midriffs, some women seemed to be trying for next year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Said one appreciative man: "Now that's a fashion statement that's talking right to me."

Accompanied by his wife, Ethel, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley was not seen eyeing the well-dressed ladies, but he did follow the main fashion trend of the evening: He too came in black--a no-frills black tuxedo.

And that smile on his face wasn't because he had dressed appropriately. It was because he didn't spy one traffic gridlock outside the Shrine on Wednesday, which bodes well for Oscar night March 29.

"Last time, I got stuck at Adams and Hoover for an hour," the mayor said. "This year, coming over was a breeze."

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