Men, hang up the pinstripes and sensible shirts; it’s time to dust down your jumpsuit and shine up your sparkles. Because, if the hifalutin theatrics on the Grammys red carpet are anything to go by, men are breaking out of their comfort zone like never before in the pursuit of a more impactful way of dressing, inspired by the hedonism of the 1970s.
At the event on Sunday evening in Los Angeles the front men were out in force; Harry Styles in a crystal-embroidered harlequin jumpsuit by cult Paris house Egonlab, Machine Gun Kelly in spangly Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Daley (is he set to swap knitting needles for vinyl record needles?) wore Stella McCartney metallics, Afro-Cuban musician Cimafunk in gold fringing and Italian Eurovision winners Maneskin in soft-focus Gucci.
You might not like it, and I think we can safely assume you wouldn’t wear it, but you have to agree that it’s a lot more fun than a safe old suit. Plus, with the exception of Daley, these guys are rock and pop stars – it’s essentially part of the deal that they dress to express on the red carpet and it makes sense that they’re playing to the most OTT era of showmen in existence. It was the time of Freddie Mercury posturing, Sweet’s exaggerated platforms and spacey catsuits and Elton’s glorious Bob Mackie excess.
And it’s telling that it’s coming back full throttle; the 1970s saw peacocking of the highest order and a breaking down of gender barriers like never before. The likes of Styles and Machine Gun Kelly might be veritable catnip to Gen Z, their high-fashion high jinks are nothing hugely revolutionary. They might be new to a younger generation, but these flamboyant fellows are following in the footsteps of 20th-century showmen in their outre get-ups.
Take Styles, who echoes the bambi-limbed theatricality of David Bowie and the pillow-lipped pouting of Mick Jagger. Or Maneskin evoking the rebellious gangliness of Jim Morrison, with a dash of Rod Stewart thrown in for good measure. All of which just goes to show how boundary-pushing the OGs (that’s TikTok speak for “originals”, do keep up) were when they first broke new sartorial ground. Skirts on men might have done the rounds on the red carpet in recent years – on Oscar Isaacs and Brad Pitt – but Bowie got there first way back in the 1970s.
And while the younger contingent garnered the most attention thanks to their eye-popping looks, let’s raise a toast to the older men at the Grammys who held their own formidably. Nile Rodgers stayed true to the bold suiting formula he’s finessed over the years by donning a zinging lime-green Chanel suit, and Mick Fleetwood looked ritzy in a beaded tuxedo jacket. They undoubtedly remember the catsuits and capes from the first time around and have settled into a style that’s their own. So who do we have to thank for the standout looks this year?
Harry Styles does David Bowie
While Styles might physically resemble Mick Jagger, this harlequin-patterned jumpsuit, created by young designers Egonlab and embellished with 250,000 Swarovski crystals, calls to mind the iconic looks of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era, likewise the motif nodding to his Pierrot moment from Scary Monsters.
Twenty-nine-year-old Styles, who’s in search of a new style home now that Alessandro Michele – his fashion fairy godfather – has departed Gucci as creative director, has mentioned the importance of Bowie’s influence on his music. That certainly parlays into his approach to dressing; making the most of his reed-like frame, embracing androgyny and enjoying a catsuit and platforms on occasion. Bowie was also a fan of proper, serious tailoring throughout his career – from boxy ice-blue suits in his early years to severe black later on – and Styles follows that template too when he’s not at his more out-there.
Tom Daley does Marc Bolan
The puckish Olympic winner Daley isn’t your natural clothes horse, because he’s got an athletic frame where others are taller and more willowy, but he’s carved out a niche on the red carpet for wearing bold ensembles (complete with cross-body bags and the occasional foray into nail polish). This metallic-flecked McCartney shirt and trousers recalls the dandyish styling of Marc Bolan, who was fond of gleaming brights, sequins and the odd feather boa. Daley might be a sportsman (and knitting enthusiast), but his style is taking centre stage.
Machine Gun Kelly does Slade
He might look like the curious lovechild of a death row inmate and Macaulay Culkin, but Machine Gun Kelly – real name Colson Baker – has been courted by the most prestigious of fashion houses; Dolce & Gabbana’s spring/summer 2023 collection is inspired by his renegade approach to sweeping coats, hardware and clomping boots. Elton John’s Bob Mackie rhinestones got there first – the singer also wore a silver fringed outfit, which resembled a fight in a tinsel shop back in 1986 – and the festive silver suit was also a staple of Christmas-accompaniment Slade.
Cimafunk does Maurice White from Earth, Wind and Fire
Yes, the spangled cape is the talking point here, but the Cuban-American artist gets kudos for the exaggerated flares too, which mimic the flowing shapes of the costumes of Earth, Wind and Fire, not to mention the gold spangles. Cimafunk’s cape is pure glam rock main stage, all starbursts and fringed gold, while the exaggerated glasses nod to 1970s playfulness.
Maneskin does Rod Stewart
You might not know the Italian rock group, but they’ve been making waves across the fashion world after winning Eurovision in 2021 and becoming stars of a Gucci campaign. The wavy hair, exaggerated shirt collars, silks and louche velvet suiting nod to 1970s glamour and the rakish dressing of Rod Stewart and Jimi Hendrix. The 1970s have been a huge influence on men’s fashion in recent years, due in no small part to Gucci, and Maneskin’s soft-focus approach is straight from that decade’s playbook.
And the women wore…
The stars bid to turn up the volume and out-size each other in the dress department. Let the battle for the biggest look commence…
By Caroline Leaper
Hats and hoods
Lizzo’s Dolce and Gabbana hooded cloak, studded with taffeta corsages, was a scene-stealer, as was Cardi B, wrapped in a cobalt satin helix by Gaurav Gupta. Shania Twain went the full Dr Seuss in a hat, corset and bell bottom trousers by British-American Harris Reed.
Capes and trains
A wide circumference of curled Gucci tulle surrounded Jennifer Lopez, while country singer Kacey Musgraves topped her bubblegum Valentino catsuit with a feathered cape. Taylor Swift’s Roberto Cavalli two-piece had the neatest puddle hem.
Beyonce’s exaggerated Gucci dress featured an artistic wavy silver skirt and Doja Cat’s patent Versace appeared to have been moulded around her figure. Adele, in Louis Vuitton, was comparatively pared back, but even her bold shoulder design boasted a wingspan of around a metre.