Unwritten rule: At every awards ceremony there’s at least one person who pushes the envelope before any envelopes are opened. At the 2018 ARIA Awards at Sydney’s The Star, it was local singer Montaigne.
Real name Jessica Cerro, the 23-year-old swept onto Wednesday’s red carpet in an astonishing confection that was part high fashion, part low rent, part political statement.
Frankly, there can never be too much of anything at the ARIAs when it comes to fashion. Music is all about creativity, and Montaigne worked the loose dress code – edgy, glamorous, God awful, whatever feels right – hard.
Her look? A lace pant with matching embellished platform, sweeping marabou cape with chiffon underlays, boss platinum hair and the best use of face paint since Seinfeld‘s Puddy.
Also going down the wacky road: Musician George Maple, in a classic interpretation of It’s A Lot. Like Montaigne she went for pale pink and a bit of everything: Opus Dei hood, turtle neck, train, frou frou sandals and oddly reticent bag. Result: Remember Dr Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle?
Serial desperado Imogen Anthony was at her big occasion best, in a little number made of tape that said ‘Not for Sale’ and ‘Bitch’ teamed with thigh-high boots and red eyeshadow.
American star Mya went bigger than Texas. Bigger than anyone. Bigger than she probably should. Still, welcome to Australia.
Amid the glorious individuality a quasi official theme emerged, as worn by Samantha Jade and Havana Brown: Tiny, tiny minis with restrained heels. Kind of tasteful but a tad dull. Next year, get some accessories.
All up, in the (unironic) words of Peking Duk’s Reuben Styles, “It was lit”.
International A-lister Rita Ora, in lilac, needed help getting onto the carpet with her gown, which meshed layers of fairy tulle with a classy rock vibe.
Host Keith Urban brought his wife Nicole Kidman as his date. She brought her teenage niece Lucia Hawley as hers. Keith did casual, as is his wont, and Nicole nailed it in peach cigarette pants, metallic heels and a sexy, covet-worthy maribou feather strapless top.
Multiple nominees Amy Shark and Courtney Barnett were fabulous, Shark in ladylike lace and Barnett smashing it with a best-practice mullet and tailored suit. The clothes were overshadowed by their enthusiasm.
Sophie Monk, perhaps sick of questions about her up-and-down love life, brought the one man in her life who will always be Mr Monk: Her father, Andrew, who pointed out his status in a rocking T-shirt.
The Love Island host herself chose a princess look with boned bodice and sheer skirt. Points went to dad.
Jessica Mauboy had the best sleeves of the night, big puffy meringues worn with bodycon black. Great fashion-forward styling.
Today’s Sylvia Jeffreys went for a ripper dress that suggested she was about to do forbidden dance, the Lambada, on the Serengeti. Winner.
Another Nine morning host, Sonia Kruger, rocked up in her version of tuxedo dressing, worn with deep, deep tan and novelty ankle boots. Extraordinary.
Model Ksenija Lukich kicked things off in grand style, combining glitter, feathers, tiers, a split and stabby heels in one astonishing package.
Former winner Samantha Jade went the mini route in a simple but fancy interpretation with bad lariat necklace. It’s music, people! Less is way, way less.
Christian Wilkins, son of Nine’s entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins, and Andrew Kelly did their own flirty summery thing, the heavy boots anchoring their pastel skirt and culottes.
Ten reporter Liv Phyland got the rock chick brief but in a slightly fake, manicured way. Needed some Ruby Boots in-your-bones style.
Havana Brown opted for a Grecian mini with a draped high-neck top that elevated her above the pack. But were those shoes too small, lady?
To Alexandra Lynn [Alex the Astronaut]: My love, I don’t even know who you are (Google didn’t help) but there’s a lot that’s individual about your Hanson hair, ill-fitting velour pantsuit and netball trainers. And that’s a good thing.
Alli Simpson added a wizard’s sleeve to her mini and heels combo. One of those looks that might have been better in real life.
Sarah Ellen was more streamlined and that thing I said about accessories doesn’t apply. The shoulder bow was bang on.
Not since Backstreet Boys’ heyday has a red carpet seen a matching band outfit like that worn by Peking Duk. Gents, consider yourself saluted as well as suited.
Children’s musical artist DJ Jazzy stayed on brand.
Rapper Carmouflage Rose looked like he was fresh from the set of Pulp Fiction and planning on heading off to an upmarket security job.
Who else did we love and loathe? Chloe Bayliss for her neon pantsuit with shoes last seen at a 1995 Year 11 formal. Hall of Fame inductee Kasey Chambers for beautiful family. Sheppard for their coloured hair, bandeau tops and fashion philosophy: “Whatever goes. Everyone has a chance to come out of their shell, be who they are.”