by James Tuttle
As I was barreling somewhat recklessly down Olympic Boulevard toward American Idol’s finale at downtown L.A.’s Nokia Theatre last week, my friend Mary sat in the passenger seat, calmly applying her eye shadow. “My Gaaad,” she said in her lovely Mid-western accent, “Jennifer Lopez has probably been in hair and makeup for three hours already.”
Within an hour, we were only a few feet away from La Lopez and it looked like Mary had called it pretty accurately. Jennifer was stunning in long-sleeved beaded Blumarine, but Mary in her black strapless floor-length Rick Owens gown was no slouch, either, even if she did do her makeup in the car.
This year’s finale show included live performances by such music legends as Neal Diamond, John Fogerty, Aerosmith, Chaka Khan and Reba McEntire so you might have expected it to be a little creaky, but I’m happy to report that no one broke a hip. On the contrary, the show was so fast and entertaining that I couldn’t believe the two hours had already gone by when Seacrest was ready to announce this season’s winner. I’m certain this was very much due to our friend Ken Warwick’s razor sharp Executive Producer skills. Sitting with his wonderful family Julie, Gracie and Joe (son Max was in rehearsals for something) made the night that much more enjoyable.
Now, you may have been among the over twenty million viewers who tuned in to watch that night or even been with us in the seven thousand seat Nokia Theatre, but there are a few things you probably didn’t experience if you weren’t down in the first ten or twelve rows.
- The fear of losing an eye from a stray sequin when Fantasia’s skin-tight bedazzled jumpsuit explodes. This was repeated later when Chaka Khan came down those stairs in a brown version of the same outfit. Miraculously, there was no evident camel-toe.
- The stinky smoke that spilled off the stage when Jordin Sparks sang with That Blond Girl from Liverpool.
- Instead of watching the boring commercials the TV viewers see, you get to watch fun backstage videos, listen to the comedian with the rhinestone tie run around the theatre keeping the crowd lively, and watch the crew set up for the next surprise artist.
- Ryan Seacrest hurling a folding chair off the judges’ stage at the very last second before cameras rolled when they couldn’t make it work for Jimmy Iovine’s segment up there. I now have a newfound respect for Ryan as a producer because he clearly knows how to get shit done.
- Just like at the Oscars, they put a seat-filler in your seat if you’re out of it for a few seconds so there’s not an empty spot when the cameras roll. Priscilla Presley’s son, Navarone, went off for a bit and an odd guy with a black bowl haircut sat in his seat right until the next break. Priscilla and I were planning to look for each other at the show, but I had no idea she’d be sitting right in front of me. I wondered if I should switch seats with the weird guy, but then Mary would’ve been stuck with him. (Note to self: see what Emily Post has on seat fillers.)
There were many great moments in the show but my clear favorite was Jennifer Holliday’s duet of her iconic Dreamgirls song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” with finalist Jessica Sanchez, all the more so because the crowd was clearly expecting ex-Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson when they heard the song title, and Holliday won them over in a matter of seconds with her fire and talent. Just between you and me, though, girlfriend needs a new wig.
I also very much enjoyed Rihanna’s wildly inventive futuristic tribal dance routine for “Where Have You Been,” and she is surprisingly beautiful up close. Jennifer Lopez’s two dance singles in her sparkly white pajama bottoms were fun, too. We had such a great time, but only thing I would have changed were the dresses on the ladies of the Top Twelve as they performed their Chaka Khan medley. Skin-tight, super-short and sparkly, they look like they belonged on Hollywood Boulevard at 11:30 on a Saturday night, and not in a good way.
In other sparkly dress news, the Cannes Film Festival just wrapped up, leaving us with nearly two weeks of brilliant red carpet appearances to ponder. First of all, those Cannes Festival bitches are pretty smart. By making beautiful German actress Diane Kruger a member of the Jury, they guaranteed a total glamour-fest from beginning to end because she was obviously going to show up at each event in a different gown, with different jewels, hair, makeup and accessories. I have to say that she did a brilliant job, hitting her marks and working her angles like the movie star I hope she soon becomes. Her poor stylist, on the other hand, has probably checked into rehab by now.
For me, Kruger’s best looks were the white Nina Ricci she wore to the Killing Them Softly premiere, the short white dress from Chanel’s weird Resort 2013 collection at the amfAR gala and the voluminous Christian Dior Spring 2012 Couture grey plaid ball gown at the Closing Ceremony.
The aqua silk Giambattista Valli at the Opening Ceremony easily takes the top spot, nearly transforming Diane into this age’s Grace Kelly for the night. I don’t dislike the gold Vivienne Westwood column gown she wore to the Amour premiere as much as when I first saw it, but I’m still annoyed by the Jason Wu get-up she wore to the Haiti benefit. Just as on Karlie Kloss at the Met Ball, it looks like a simple dress that they decided to wrap some cheap Garment District lace around at the last minute.
Eva Longoria also brought her A-game to the Opening Ceremony in a nude Marchesa gown with silver embroidery and a big frothy grey tulle train but I’m not really sure why she’s at the Cannes Film Festival. I don’t know what last year’s red-carpet champion Jessica Chastain wore that night, but she was lovely in pale peachy Gucci with sparkling paillettes radiating from the waist at the Lawless premiere and also looked beautiful in white chiffon Armani Privé at Madagascar 3.
Australian Naomi Watts had some great looks, first at the Gucci/Vanity Fair party in a one-off Gucci sleeveless light grey cocktail dress with an ostrich feathered skirt and then in nude Marchesa with feather embroidery and tulle cascading skirt at Once Upon a Time in America.
Marion Cotillard in a Christian Dior Couture ball gown with black strapless bodice and full navy tulle skirt at the Rust and Bone premiere was classic, elegant and dramatic and I also finally, finally loved Kristen Stewart wearing long red Reem Acra at the Cosmopolis premiere with spot-on hair and makeup. She got it right for once!
Into the worst-dressed category must go Asia Argento in Givenchy Spring 2012 Couture who looked more like a creepy Game of Thrones character, Berenice Bejo in multicolored strapless Prada pleated gown with a beaded bodice that is a sorry compilation of some Spring 2012 dresses from the runway and model Natasha Poly in long-sleeved green leopard-print Gucci with the thigh-high slit and the Angelina Jolie leg treatment. With so many beautiful gowns in Gucci’s fall collection, why did they just pick the ugly ones?
Looking back at the Festival overall, the trends that stuck out for me this year were the white and the nude colors and the return of the big-ass ball gown. Lace, tulle, feather and crystal details were everywhere and some of the trains stretched for miles. Even in the case of relatively unembellished gowns like Kruger’s and Cotillard’s from Christian Dior, you could hide a small village under those damn hoop skirts.
Go big or go home is right!