Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
We assumed the Grammys red carpet would be a little more political than usual, given celebrities’ recent propensity for speaking out combined with the Grammys’ track record for being the most sartorially adventurous of the awards shows.
But when it comes to fashion on Sunday night, there are few musical stars choosing to make their clothing speak for itself.
One (very viral) exception: this bold “Make America Great Again” dress to kick off the night:
Singer Joy Villa was the proud wearer of the pro-Trump dress, reportedly designed by designer Andre Soriano. One of the first guests on the red carpet, Villa whipped off a dramatic white cape to reveal the dress, which included the president’s campaign slogan down the front and a bedazzled “TRUMP” on the back bottom hem.
Landing somewhere else on the political spectrum, there was the tepid pro-women statement made by a light-up purse carried by singer Skylar Grey. The clutch was flashing messages of “equality” and “empowerment,” Grey said on the red carpet. “It’s my women’s march.”
It was also a piece of #sponcon brought to us by Absolut, which is promoting its new Absolut Lime and is a Grammys sponsor. Grey made sure to mention Absolut Lime while flashing her light-up bag, which just might have distracted from the women’s empowerment message.
Then there was a statement that fell somewhere between impossibly subtle and glaringly obvious, from Katy Perry. The singer performed wearing a white pantsuit, itself a potential nod to Hillary Clinton. She also sported an armband on her right bicep that, if you looked closely, read “PERSIST,” a la Elizabeth Warren.
Then, of course, she topped it off by ending her performance in front of the Constitution.
Of course, not every attempt at incorporating a bigger message into clothing comes across forcefully. It’s a balance several designers are navigating right now over at New York Fashion Week, making things a little more political on their runways than usual. But not everyone feels compelled to make their fashion statements a real statement — nor do the attempts always feel worthwhile.
Update: February 12th, 2017, 11:32 p.m.
This story has been updated throughout.