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Less is more in style stakes


 Beyonce at the Grammys. Photo: Getty

Beyonce at the Grammys. Photo: Getty

Beyonce at the Grammys. Photo: Getty

I HAVE to say, I'm absolutely loving awards season this year. Right now, a Sunday night doesn't seem to pass without a chance for me to sit on the sofa and escape the imminently approaching working week ahead by watching celebrities glide by, buffed and polished to within an inch of their lives.

It's so different from my reality as I wallow in my onesie, riveted to Twitter and whatever cable channel has the most caustic red carpet commentators.

Sunday night's creations really raised the bar on what's to come at the Oscars, as music's most successful sashayed in gowns that were less about couture and more about showing off their hard-earned youthful bodies.

As always, we looked for trends – colours, cuts, silhouettes. What was the game-changer of the night? My vote went to Beyonce's now-you-see-me-now-you-don't white cut-out number. It got the daring/demure ratio bang on.

I don't know who Michael Costello, the designer, was (any relation to our Paul?), but he created some red carpet magic.

The white flock pattern, stitched on to a sheer base, seemed to wrap the singer beautifully – something that's really difficult to do as mostly, where nude mesh is involved, the wearer ends up looking like something out of Dancing on Ice.



I guess part of Beyonce's magic on Sunday was her understated, under-dressed hair and clean make-up that focused on a stunning scarlet lip. She chose one thing (the dress) and went for it.

It's not the first time Beyonce dared to bare at the Grammys. In 2002 she chose a purple spider webby-type gown with some token-gesture floaty chiffon around her hips. It wasn't a hit. In fact, the only thing I can remember about it was the fine, healthy strapless bra she wore underneath – the sort of thing members of a women's hockey team would be proud to hold in their kit bags, such was its firm, functional design.

In those days, Beyonce was a brasher bird, though, with ironed hair extensions in an alarming saffron-coloured shade.

But this year, she rocked the look, just as Colbie Caillat did in a bright red high-neck Ezra Couture gown, which broke from right shoulder to left hip with a clever insert of shee – just enough to tantalise, not enough to shock.

And I think that's the secret. It may be old-fashioned, but when making a statement, in no matter how edgy a dress, lesson number one should always read: When it comes to showing body parts, less is definitely more.

Someone should tell this to Justin Bieber's pal, the "urban model" (I've never heard that one before) Chantel Jeffries who rose to mainstream attention last week when she was photographed riding shotgun with the teen. Then photos from her Instagram hit the headlines. Let's just say there was a lot of strategic coverage in her bikinis and ball gowns. Let's put it down to youth.

Then there's lesson number two: All nudes are not equal. Nor are they nude. I don't know how many dresses I've seen where the 'nude' mesh has been more obvious than if it were neon. And when a nude doesn't match the skin tone, things get messy. Time to revisit that outfit, ladies, because it's akin to wearing support underwear.