Lizzo, Taylor Swift and Lil Nas X were among the stars to impress on a red carpet dominated dark hues, exposed midriffs and gender-fluid menswear.
The 2022 MTV Video Music Awards got underway Sunday evening, with stars including Lizzo and Blackpink stepping out onto the red carpet for the big night.
Compared with Hollywood’s award ceremonies, the VMAs often see attendees letting loose and showing off their personalities, typically choosing fun, sultry or experimental outfits over formal suits and ballgowns. Fashion history has also been made here, such as Lil’ Kim’s one-sleeved purple jumpsuit and seashell nipple pastie in 1999 or Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress in 2010.
This year’s event, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, saw performances the likes of Bad Bunny and Nicki Minaj, with Jack Harlow and LL Cool J hosting. Celebrity fashion watchers also had much to celebrate as style darlings including Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X and Becky G arrived in show-stopping ensembles.
Many stars dressed in dark hues to match this year’s “black carpet” — though they brought outfits to life with fetishwear-inspired accessories, such as singer Dove Cameron’s thick leather choker, or flashes of color, like Sabrina Carpenter’s rainbow embellishments.
Stars also dared to bare, with celebrities including Ashley Graham, Tate McRae and Blackpink’s Jennie all flashing their midriffs. Anitta and Victoria de Angelis of Maneskin, meanwhile, paid apparent homage to Lil’ Kim’s famed 1999 VMAs outfit with fashionable nipple covers.
Some of the evening’s men bared their torsos, too. And gender-fluid fashion brought a certain softness to the menswear ensembles, with Maneskin’s Ethan Torchio donning a sheer corset, Conan Gray billowing past in a lace-train Harris Reed outfit and Bob the Drag Queen twirling in a white skirt, which he matched with a plaid blazer and waistcoat.
March 2022, celebrity fashion counterculturalist Julia Fox arrived at the Vanity Fair Oscar After-Party dressed in a head-turning black leather gown with a halter-neck-turned-hand wrapped around her neck.
The “grip dress” made headlines across the fashion press. Fox’s look had “won the blue carpet,” wrote Vanity Fair, while Grazia called it “a contender for most controversial look ever.” When quizzed about the designer, Fox faltered. “Hans,” she told Vanity Fair that night, “the last name is German and I can’t pronounce.”
It was in fact a Danish last name: Kjøbenhavn as in Han Kjøbenhavn, a label founded Danish designer Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen. The look was part of the brand’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection, with a made-to-measure version fashioned for Fox at the request of her stylist Briana Andalore around eight months before Oscars night — though Davidsen had no idea what it would be worn for.
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“It was not like we knew the occasion,” he told CNN over a video call before his latest presentation at Copenhagen Fashion Week. “Because of the time difference, I woke up in the morning, checked my emails and saw my notifications going crazy. I think the combination of Julia Fox and her having the courage to wear the dress — which is such a specific aesthetic — at such a classic event made it blow up the way it did.”
Davidsen certainly makes clothes for fearless people (Beyoncé wore one of Han Kjøbenhavn’s surrealist gold body coils on her most recent British Vogue cover), but also for those who want to instill a little fear in others. Many elements of the fashion industry inspire cold-sweat trepidation (re-watch “The Devil Wears Prada” if you need convincing), but Davidsen’s work is undeniably haunting: At his showroom presentation in Copenhagen’s city center, a smoke machine pumped atmospheric fog into the white-walled studio while flickering lights and static interrupted projected campaign imagery. Display mannequins dressed in boxy, Frankenstein-style coats peaked through dry ice. The jackets (made from either leather, denim or what looked like wet feathers) were all cut into Davidsen’s signature monstrous silhouette — giant, cartoonish shoulders that quickly taper down the body.
Elsewhere at Copenhagen Fashion Week — which ran from Tuesday 9 August to Friday 12 August — another label seemingly favored Fox presented a new collection.
Swedish designer Jade Cropper, whose barely-there satin slip dress was spotted on Fox in a now-viral street style snap this past April, showcased a Spring-Summer collection made largely from circulose, a recycled cotton-waste material.
Skirts and dresses dominated Cropper’s runway, though the clothes were anything but girlish. Her use of printed mesh, raw-hemmed denim and dynamic cut-outs gave way to a darker version of femininity. “I’m working with femininity but it has to have this edge, this power,” she told CNN after the show. Cropper felt vindicated when one of her runway models told her, “I only wear masculine things, only trousers — but if I’m going to wear feminine clothes, this is what I would wear.”
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During her debut last season, Cropper won the Copenhagen Fashion Week New Talent award and was named Elle Sweden’s Newcomer of the Year 2022. She’s already in with the Kardashian clan, and has had pieces picked for performances and appearances from singers SZA to Jorja Smith. “It’s amazing,” Cropper said of her new celebrity client roster. “That’s something I want to explore more, maybe through a collaboration or something like that.”