Turning down the volume

Times Staff Writer

THE red carpet at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards threw into sharp relief just how safe female musicians are required to play it these days. The steady stream of jewel-toned gowns, softly waved tresses and unremarkable diamond baubles was eerily similar to the red carpet scene at the Screen Actors Guild Awards a few weeks ago. Since when did pop and rock stars start dressing like actresses?

With rock ‘n’ roll rebellion in short supply, classically pretty ensembles were everywhere -- except on Amy Winehouse, who performed via satellite in a flouncy, super-short black ‘50s-inspired frock, her trademark sky-high black beehive accented with massive flowers.

Purples and deep blues were the hues of the evening, with Rihanna nabbing best-dressed honors in a sapphire scoop-neck Zac Posen dress with feathers peeking out from under the hem. The tutu-inspired look was young and kicky, its frilliness a perfect contrast to her boyish new haircut. Natasha Bedingfield also looked glam-but-understated in a royal purple strapless Reem Acra gown with a wide belt, while Alicia Keys affected modern royalty in a navy Armani Prive halter gown with a train that swirled to the floor like liquid (but kept it real with a curly mohawk-like ‘do).


Soulful singers Corinne Bailey Rae and Nelly Furtado chose electric-blue strapless styles, but Rae’s abbreviated confection resembled a mess of candy wrappers.

Pop tart Fergie looked sophisticated in a pale yellow Calvin Klein column gown and a sizable diamond necklace -- but who wants to see Fergie looking as if she’s ready to accept an Oscar? Bring on the hot pants and knee socks!

Thankfully, the men amped it up a bit. Kan- ye West performed in a military-inspired hooded black coat with reflective panels. The look du jour for men was dark-on-dark, with Ne-Yo, Ludacris and members of the Foo Fighters and Daughtry rocking black or charcoal suits over black button-down shirts. Jay-Z went with a classic tuxedo (bow tie and all), while Seal schooled all the young dudes in a gleaming white Yves Saint Laurent suit over a white shirt and a black printed skinny tie by Japanese brand Mastermind.

Still, all the well-behaved fashion had us pining for the days of Pink’s one-legged stretch pants, Lil’ Kim’s strapless leotard and even Avril Lavigne’s Converse All-Stars.