Tems terms her view-blocking Oscars dress an ‘oops’ (and changed for the after-party)

A woman wears a structural white gown that swirls a large could of fabric around her head.
Singer-songwriter Tems made a bold fashion statement at the 95th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems has one word for critics of her fabulous but enormous Oscars gown:


That’s what the Oscar nominee tweeted Monday afternoon after memes and a video of a woman trying to peer around her cloud-like, view-impinging white gown in the Oscars audience went viral. She gracefully included a blushing emoji and four detail photos of her striking ensemble.

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Tems, whose full name is Temilade Openiyi, was nominated for the song Oscar for co-writing “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The 27-year-old co-wrote the tune with Rihanna, director Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Göransson. Rihanna performed “Lift Me Up” during the Academy Awards broadcast, but “Naatu Naatu” from the movie “RRR” took home the trophy.


The gown — which was easily spotted in overhead shots on TV as a big white dot among an otherwise rather uniform seated Oscars audience — sparked an assortment of sartorial praise, lighthearted memes and allegations of disrespect among online commenters.

One of them summed up the situation, tweeting, “Tems dress was beautiful. Tems is drop dead gorgeous. Tems is my star girl and all that. Tems blocking people’s views with her dress was inconsiderate. People pointing that out is not racism as long as they aren’t using derogatory language. Humans need to be more honest.”

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Tems’ sculptural gown was by Lever Couture and struck a mood similar to the royal blue Gaurav Gupta creation that Cardi B wore to the 2023 Grammys. But while Cardi changed into an archival Paco Rabanne chain-mail gown to honor that recently deceased designer when she presented a Grammy in February, Tems slid into a strapless black gown with an ultra-high leg slit for the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party — and nothing above the shoulders that might block the other guests’ views of Hollywood royalty as they noshed on In-N-Out.

A woman in a strapless black gown with a high slit
Tems changed from a massive white gown into a sleek black one before attending Sunday’s 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills.
(Cindy Ord / VF23 / Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this article.