Grammys’ fierce red carpet fashion

Lady Gaga is in orbit in a Giorgio Armani Privé dress and crystal-encrusted stockings and platforms.
Lady Gaga is in orbit in a Giorgio Armani Privé dress and crystal-encrusted stockings and platforms.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Fashion Critic

After weeks of safe style at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, red carpet fashion finally found its edge at the Grammys.

Everyone knows Lady Gaga is on her own fashion planet, which made the futuristic Giorgio Armani Privé dress she wore for arrivals all the more fitting. More engineered than sewn, it was distinguished by a hoop skirt being orbited by glittery silver rings. Crystal-covered stockings and extreme platform shoes completed the Judy Jetson look.

Beyoncé played up her killer curves on the red carpet in the perfect diva dress, a peachy nude satin short-sleeve gown with curve-tracing piping, designed by Stephane Rolland, a Paris-based couturier who launched his line only in 2007. When he showed his most recent couture collection just days ago, the Associated Press described his gowns as sprouting what looked like “dinosaur vertebrae,” though Beyoncé's look was certainly more subdued.

Katy Perry’s nude-colored Zac Posen gown with gold-metal flower-shaped embroidery managed to be both sexy and playful. She said she chose it because it reminded her of India, where she recently vacationed with fiancé Russell Brand. The theme carried over to her elephant-shaped, crystal-covered Judith Leiber minaudière.

Carrie Underwood, who typically is a sedate dresser, looked as if she was trying to push the envelope in an asymmetrical white silk Edition by George Chakra gown with silver leather straps across the bust and shoulders, but it fell flat. Jennifer Nettles’ cerise crepe Victoria Beckham gown with black accents and cutouts at the waist was a better example of the body-conscious trend.

Ciara’s long-sleeved black Givenchy dress had everything but the kitchen sink on it -- lace, clear crystals, silk cord and vertebrae-like details. It was a “Mad Max” moment for sure. And not in a good way. Miley Cyrus’ dark green Herve Leger mini-dress and messy hair didn’t do her any favors, either.

For the men, the suit was far from being all business.

John Legend wore a striking gray silk shantung Prada suit with a black leather tie and gray mesh sweater underneath; Usher, a beige Emporio Armani three-piece suit with an oversized check shirt and a polka dot tie. Meanwhile, the group MGMT took thrift-store chic to a new level, wearing more clashing prints than a closet full of clown clothes. LMFAO have their own style, too -- you might call it skater pimp.

The cool guy accessory wasn’t a pair of shades, it was a shady hat -- perhaps as an ode to Michael Jackson? LL Cool J and Ne-Yo chose black fedoras, while Elvis Costello’s hat was red carpet red.

Then there was Adam Lambert, the male equivalent of Lady Gaga when it comes to fashion. He looked slick in a black sequin jacket, black nail polish, glam rock boots and a ribbon tie.

Only Lambert, with his daring neckwear, could channel Colonel Sanders and get away with it.