Few looks caused a social-media frenzy at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Aug. 28 like the strapless pleated silk gown Lizzo wore, a haute-couture design by Glenn Martens for the Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2022 collection — and stylist Brett Alan Nelson was ready for it.
“The carpet dress I have been drooling over since it showed [in January],” Nelson tells The Hollywood Reporter exclusively. “It was a major risk, because both Lizzo and I knew, with the trolls of the internet, the look could be judged in a bad light. But neither of us cared, because it was couture, baby, off the runway. I live for the absurdity of fashion, and that is what we gave: grunge and a bit of rock ‘n’ roll, but glam, glam, glam.” An assortment of Jennifer Fisher earrings, gloves by Los Angeles-based Lael Osness, and boots by New Rock completed the look.
When accepting her award for best video for good, Lizzo wore a second Jean Paul Gaultier haute-couture look, from Olivier Rousteing’s Fall 2022 collection for the house and paired with Roger Vivier’s Viv in the City slingbacks. “If you know me and my work, you know I have always had a deep obsession with Jean Paul Gaultier, and we had two looks from the collaborations [with Rousteing and Martens],” Nelson explains, adding that the overall vibe was about “entering a glam/goth world for the evening — but still giving fashion and still giving fun.”
A third look for Lizzo’s performance, a medley of “About Damn Time” and “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready),” was a custom design crafted by L.A.-based designer Rey Ortiz in the hot shade seen at the VMAs, Barbiecore-influenced pink, accessorized with Swarovski earrings and Steve Madden boots. “We took a nod to Grace Jones a bit but made it custom, fitting it to Lizzo and her personality,” Nelson adds.
Accessories were likewise considered to exude thoughts of glamour and empowerment. “Lizzo trusts me when it comes to accessories and lets me have fun,” Nelson explains. “For carpet I gave her an Afro-queen elegance with stacked Jennifer Fisher earrings, and for [her acceptance speech] we went a bit punk to stay true to Olivier’s collection for Jean Paul Gaultier.”
For Lizzo’s beauty look, makeup artist Alexx Mayo created a strong lip color, using eyeliner products by Charlotte Tilsbury that perfectly matched the singer’s navy gown. “We wanted to go with the ultimate vamp look,” Mayo says. “I love using products in unconventional ways like the [Eye Colour Magic Liner Duo in Super Blue] as a lipstick. The overall vibe was a sultry, regal vixen.”
Nelson, whose clients also include Doja Cat and Bebe Rexha, says he isn’t surprised that Lizzo’s look on MTV’s black carpet sparked instant conversation on Twitter and Instagram. “I don’t do carpets often with Lizzo, but every time we do, we go viral,” he says. “We took a risk because we know we can, and it seems like we made a splash.”