But in general the traditional style hallmarks that have come to define Grammy fashion (think black, metallic, body-conscious and flashes of strong color) were pulled together in a manner that was somehow elevated and elegant. Call it refined wackiness.
Katy Perry perfectly exemplified the evening's overall fashion vibe, incorporating her love for bold color and whimsical details yet retaining a conservative silhouette. Clad in a beaded, aquamarine Elie Saab gown, complete with a small train in the back, her hair was dyed to match the hue of her dress and then pulled up into a tight French twist.
The long, extended silhouette was one of the evening's big trends. British artist Jessie J donned a disco ball of a dress, with a small train, by Julien Macdonald. Carrie Underwood glided down the red carpet in a long, backless creation from contemporary label Gomez-Gracia, and Taylor Swift was clad in a gilded and intricately embroidered gown by Zuhair Murad.
Fergie followed suit to some extent, but did it with her own pop star flair. She wore a neon orange Jean Paul Gaultier couture lace gown that revealed high-cut black underpants and a matching bra.
Color came in big punches. In addition to Fergie, Minaj made a big statement with her ruby red custom Atelier Versace ensemble that looked to be inspired by a nun's habit, and her accessory of choice was a man dressed like a pope. It was no Lady Gaga egg arrival, but certainly was the night's biggest sartorial stunt.
Many of those who did not opt for color sparkled instead. Among the glitterati was Adele, who traded in her bouffant ponytail for shoulder-length loose hair and wore a custom Giorgio Armani gown with black sequins, mesh overlay and three-quarter-length sleeves. Bruno Mars didn't have sparkle, but he had plenty of shine during his performance in a custom gold tux jacket by Dolce & Gabbana.
Most of the other men expressed themselves through their accessories. It was hard to miss Elvis Costello's teal fedora that he had cocked to one side, and Steve Martin donned a pair of Oliver Peoples tortoise-shell frames with lenses custom-dyed a subtle rose-colored hue.
Host LL Cool J managed to make his signature black newsboy cap look dapper, blending seamlessly with his velvet, double-breasted Armani evening jacket with grosgrain lapels and classic evening pants.