Grammy fashion was a mix of high style and high camp

Fashions on the red carpet left me with the same feeling I got when I heard the Black Eyed Peas had been nominated for the naughty pop hit "My Humps."



From long elegant gowns to short, colorful cocktail dresses; from dark suits and bow ties to T-shirts and mouth grills - many of today's most-promising pop music stars arrived at last night's 49th annual Grammy Awards show in ensembles that were as disparate and confusing as many of this year's nominations.

No one look dominated the night.


There were the obviously wild get-ups: OK Go's curious costumes of red and gold brocade, complete with red face masks. Or Imogen Heap's ode to a Geisha-turned-tree nymph - leaves in her hair and a parasol.

The Grammys - less serious than the Oscars or Golden Globes - are all about personal style and having a little fun, but too many stars were trying too hard.

The result was that many of the outfits were outrageous or just plain silly.

Then there were the ladies in beautiful gowns, of which black and gold seemed to be the favorite colors.

The Grammy-winner for best R&B; album, Mary J. Blige, looked serious and elegant in a glittery metallic dress and her favorite awards-show hairstyle - a high braided bun. Smartly, Blige accented the gown with a metallic belt.

Dreamgirls' star Jennifer Hudson looked stunning in a red form-fitting gown. Other simple but winning choices were worn by country star LeAnn Rimes, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Ciara and the legendary Natalie Cole.

Paula Abdul wore a black-and-white Valentino gown - "You can't go wrong with Valentino," she said on the red carpet before the show. The dress, with a smart bow under the bosom, might not have been wrong, but it was possibly worn for the wrong event.

And if you thought John Mayer's classic tux and bow tie looked out of place, that's the reason.


Even rocker/R&B; crooner Pink, who usually opts for alternative looks, chose a simple black and shiny number. But the cut and sheen and open back were perfect for projecting a feminine image - with a bit of a rock-star edge.

"I was feeling girly," Pink told Joan and Melissa Rivers. "I like dressing up every once in a while."

But Pink doesn't appear to be phone-buddies with some of the night's hip-hop artists, who seemed to confuse the dress-up affair with a trip to the pool hall.

Twista and rapper Paul Wall grinned widely enough to show off mouths full of metal - grills that glittered with diamonds, or as Wall put it, "Grammy gold."

Local stylist Pascale Lemaire enjoyed the way some rappers last night combined dressier looks with sneakers.

"It's really bringing an urban flavor to being dressed up," Lemaire said.


But when it came to most male artists last night, guy groups outshone the solo acts. Groups such as the Fray, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Death Cab for Cutie stole the show in suits - not tuxes - with patterned ties, colorful shirts and often smart-looking hats.

Too many men went for the open-shirt look, which only was attractive once - on John Travolta in the 1970s.

Lionel Richie and country music artist Dierks Bentley chose black shirts open at the neck. Grammy-winner John Legend wore a white unbuttoned shirt with his bow tie haphazardly draped around the collar. "Whatever makes me feel sexy, that's what I wear," Legend said during pre-show interviews.

Actually, the sexy awards go to those who understood the fun-but- formal nature of the show: men who took a good suit and played it up with great ties. Or women who dared to show a little leg.

After all, this was the Grammys, not a night at the opera.

Presenter and nominee Corinne Bailey Rae had the evening's best dress. It was black, but glittery, short and sassy. Hilary Duff's gold-and-lace number also showed off her gams to great success.


But not everyone worked the fun/funky formula quite as well.

The Pussycat Dolls tried to go short and sweet - with fun colors like turquoise and purple - but something about the total package was a little lacking.

And even Justin Timberlake, whose style of late has been sophisticated and sexy, fell off last night in a dull gray suit and skinny tie.

Grammy-watchers to Justin: Please bring the sexy back.