EBJ turns FIVE!! | Five years of fashion trends, triumphs and tragedies
Hey there, ladies and gents. You are reading the second-last of my bloggy birthday posts on this *insert description of the weather here* Thursday, and this is a post unlike any one I’ve done before. DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUUH!!!!
So, the deal: Eurovision may be a song contest in some respects, but just turning up and belting out your entry without any regard for how you’re lit, who or what is with you, and what you’re wearing (segue into today’s topic alert) is rarely going to be enough to guarantee success. Costumes in particular can have a dramatic effect on the overall appeal of an entry: they can suit a song perfectly or look totally out of place; they can be commendably crazy or just plain distracting; and they can be young and fun or inappropriate and frumpy. I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen all of the above at some point in our lives as ESC freaks (I mean that in the nicest way possible), and so much more.
On that note, I thought I’d take a look back at the contest fashions from the years EBJ has been in action – and not just at the highs and lows, but also the trends that have had artist after artist opting for the same look with varying degrees of success. Cast your critical eye over my selections and let me know below who’s floated your fashion boat over the last five years, and who’s made you wish it had capsized!
Let’s start with the trends…
Everything was all white for the likes of Kuunkuiskajaat (Finland 2010), Sieneke (Netherlands 2010), Magdalena Tul (Poland 2011), Pastora Soler (Spain 2012), Birgit (Estonia 2013) and Tanja (Estonia 2014). For some, it was about elegance and simplicity, while others took the bed-linen look to the next level via rhinestones and more lace than a sixteen-year-old should ever be seen in.
When in doubt, however, going back to black works a treat – and it doesn’t have to be basic! Just check out the statements made by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010), Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011), MayaSar (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2012), Kaliopi (FYR Macedonia 2012), Cezar (Romania 2013) and Mei Finegold (Israel 2014). These guys worked leather, sharp tailoring and plunging necklines into their dark ensembles to make an impression.
Somebody else well aware of the power of black is Lena (Germany 2010 and 2011), who wore an LBD for her winning performance of Satellite and a belted jumpsuit the following year when she represented her country on home ground. The pared-back styling was obviously a good omen for her.
Eurovision is one colourful contest, so when they’re not donning black or white, many artists take on the idea that brighter is better. In the last five years, we’ve seen a veritable rainbow of fabulous (and not so much) frocks from Lucia Pérez (Spain 2011), Suzy (Portugal 2014), Elena Ionescu (Romania 2012), Raquel de Rosario (Spain 2013), Pernilla (Finland 2012), Dana International (Israel 2011), Kati Wolf (Hungary 2011) and Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland 2010) to name just a few.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who we’re talking about) being naked on the Eurovision stage is a no-no. But that didn’t stop Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010), Aurela Gaçe (Albania 2011), Emmelie De Forest (Denmark 2013), Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013), Ruth Lorenzo (Spain 2014) and The Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014) from going nude for their respective three minutes – if only in their choices of costume colour scheme.
One of the biggest trends of recent ESC history has been the mullet dress. Party at the front and black tie soiree at the back, unevenly hemmed getups have been rocked by Feminnem (Croatia 2010), Safura (Azerbaijan 2010), Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010), Chanee (Denmark 2010), TWiiNS (Slovakia 2011), Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011), Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) and Natalie Horler (Germany 2013). Keep ‘em coming, I say. I love the look of what I call ‘the lady-cape’.
When your song calls for a decision one way or the other, and you’re after an air of elegance, it’s time for full lengths all round. We’ve seen more evening gowns at the contest in the last five years than the Miss Universe pageant has (well, maybe…that’s some fierce competition) worn by, for instance, Sofia Nizharadze (Georgia 2010), Filipa Azevedo (Portugal 2010), Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania 2010), Despina Olympiou (Cyprus 2013), Tinkara Kovač (Slovenia 2014) and Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan 2014). From sexy and slinky to prom-style poofiness, we’ve witnessed it all.
The boys tend to put a little less effort into their onstage wear, generally speaking. Street clothes have remained from rehearsal to the real thing for Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders (Cyprus 2010), Roman Lob (Germany 2012), Max Jason Mai (Slovakia 2012), Dorians (Armenia 2013), ByeAlex (Hungary 2013) and Firelight (Malta 2014). Whatever makes you feel comfortable, guys…or in Max’s case, whatever slowly falls down as you’re performing so that you end up a millimetre away from giving Eurovision an X-rating.
But wait – the men-folk can bring it in the formal stakes too. Sometimes a suit is the best option, whether sharp and suave complete with tie, or more casual without. Just ask Didrik Solli-Tangen (Norway 2010), Harel Skaat (Israel 2010), Engelbert Humperdinck (UK 2012), Kurt Calleja (Malta 2012), Eythor Ingi (Iceland 2013), Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013), Axel Hirsoux (Belgium 2014) or Basim (Denmark 2014). NOTE: Basim also answers to the name ‘Harry Highpants’.
A big trend over the years has understandably been anything shiny or metallic. If you can’t go OTT at the ESC, something is very wrong. For 3+2 (Belarus 2010), Stella Mwangi (2011), Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011), Anggun (France 2012), Nina Zilli (Italy 2012), Jedward (Ireland 2012), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Molly (UK 2014) all that glittered was gold, silver and bronze. I can’t confirm that no sheet metal or tinfoil was harmed in the making of these costumes.
For those less keen on blinding the audience with reflective materials, and more interested in emphasising ethnicity, there’s been the option of something traditional. Whether it’s been a hybrid of old and new á la Ansambel Žlindra (Slovenia 2010) and Cleo and the Slavic girls (Poland 2014), or a totally trad look from the likes of Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia 2012) and Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013), it’s always been nice to see on stage.
Last but not least, there’s always a place for costumes that look less like clothing and more like creative craft projects for which the only guideline was ‘you’re only limited by your imagination!’. Since 2010, we’ve had: Alyosha (Ukraine 2010) in the contents of her grandma’s knitting box; Olia Tira (Moldova 2010) and Vilija (Lithuania 2014) taking tutus out of the ballet studio; Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012) and Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012) getting architectural with pleather (and a dreadlock); Eldrine (Georgia 2011) practicing their quilling skills on a bin liner; Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012) cultivating a cottage garden on her gown; Gaitana (Ukraine 2012) sponsoring Shamwow by wearing one; and Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) in the inexplicable. Some of these experiments paid off and some didn’t, but I applaud all of the creativity.
And now…my five most stylish moments in EBJ history (and remember, this is veeeery subjective):
Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011) – Who would have anticipated that modeling yourself after an intergalactic stripper would prove to be so hot, hot, hot? In her metal-plated, fringed bodycon with thigh-high platform boots and matching fingerless gloves (naturally), Maja looked UH-MAY-ZING. With emphasis on the ZING.
Margaret Berger (Norway 2013) – It is still TBC whether M. Berg was dressing up as a contemporary Nordic version of Princess Leia, but it’s obvious to everyone that she nailed the ice princess look. Both she and Birgit opted for long white dresses with added bling last year, but the then mum-to-be got out-fashioned in this instance.
Getter Jaani (Estonia 2011) – Cute, colourful and coordinated with the backing peeps? Check, check and check. Getter’s dress was bright and bold but not distracting, with just enough quirk and fun to perfectly suit it to Rockefeller Street. Plus, she could sit down and/or eat in it without splitting the material, unlike (I should imagine) Maja or Margaret.
Anggun (France 2012) – I have frequent fantasies in which I get to parade around in a gold leotard with miles of chiffon fanning out from the back in a glamorous manner. Of course, without Anggun’s stunning figure and ability to stay upright in stilettos, I’d be less likely to parade than fall flat on my face and swear my head off. But luckily for her, Anggun had the poise required to pull off this striking look.
Alyona Lanskaya (Belarus 2013) – Her song left a lot to be desired in terms of originality and English pronunciation, but Alyona looked like the tinsel-covered fairy off the top of a Christmas tree in her blue and silver fringed number (a good thing IMO). Fierce and festive. I award extra points for the backing singers’ ombre outfits, also with fringe. See, it’s not just for cowboys!
Going now from wonderful to ‘WTF?!?’, here are my five worst style moments of the EBJ era:
Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Tall, blonde and beautiful Daria had not one, not two, but three dresses on during her performance…and somehow, they were all hideous. I’d say they got worse as they went along, but the pink monstrosity in the middle that looked like a child’s party dress gone wrong was the most fug by far.
Dana International (Israel 2011) – Back in 1998, she was a woman who rocked feathers like no other and looked fabulous doing it. Then Dana goes and wears a shredded outdoor chair cover for what was supposed to be a triumphant return to the contest! Whaaa?!? I think John Paul Gaultier lost his touch after the 90s. Just look at what he dressed Petra Mede in for her hosting duties in Malmö…
Blue (UK 2011) – They’re called Blue, and they wore blue. We get it, it’s hilarious, blah blah blah. But when four attractive men ruin a great song with aesthetics alone (lighting and giant heads included) it’s hard to see the funny side. Shiny suits are a risk that didn’t pay off on this occasion. Not even making Simon go sleeveless in the hope we’d all be too focused on his biceps to notice anything else helped.
Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) – It’s too complicated to explain why here, but I lay 95% of the blame for Serbia’s failure to qualify last year on these outfits. These were like ice-cream sundaes with all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ flavours and available toppings included – i.e. way overdone. They also made the angel/devil dynamic virtually impossible to detect.
Aisha (Latvia 2010) – It’s been four years and I’m still trying to figure out why Aisha wore her dressing gown on stage. You’d think someone would have told her backstage that she’d forgotten to put on her actual costume. How embarrassing!
And finally, what would Eurovision be without the odd costume reveal? These are my five favourites, 2010-2014:
3 + 2 (Belarus 2010) – I for one never saw those butterfly wings coming. Well, not at the semi-final stage. Still, if ever there was a moment in a song that screamed ‘INSERT COSTUME REVEAL HERE!’ it was that key change, and Belarus did not let that pass by.
Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013) – I’m not referring to how Moldova made Azerbaijan’s dress-projection abilities of Baku look amateur, although that was spectacular. The costume reveal in this case was that Aliona could have worn stilts and still had enough material in her skirt to cover them, as seen when she was raised up high enough to look down on Ukraine’s towering Igor.
InCulto (Lithuania 2010) – Because sequinned hotpants.
Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Yeah, the dresses were rank, but the way she got in and out of them was impressive. If I could get changed that fast, I’d actually be on time for a change, so long as I didn’t choke to death on the confetti or cloud of smoke.
Alex Sparrow (Russia 2011) – All those in favour of light-up leather jackets, say ‘OMG YAAAASSSS!’. I’m going to assume you all said it, ‘cause who wouldn’t want to own something that not only keeps you warm, but also lets people know what letter your name begins with? You’ll also come in handy in a power outage if you get one. What are you waiting for?
So that pretty much sums up who wore what, and when. It also serves as proof that I disagree with the majority of Barbara Dex Award winners of recent history (don’t even get me STARTED on 1997-2009). If you have a disagreement re: the Eurofashion I’ve mentioned, now’s your chance to get it off your chest. Whether you thought something was good, bad, ugly, or situated in a very confusing place in-between, I want your opinion. What’s your favourite costume trend? Who got their look right and who failed to flatter their figure? Spill, guys!
NEXT TIME: With Junior Eurovision on the horizon, it’s only fitting that my final fifth birthday post should reveal my top 10 JESC entries since this blog got going. That’s a warning for all of you who are anti-JESC to steer clear for a while…
6 Responses to “EBJ turns FIVE!! | Five years of fashion trends, triumphs and tragedies”
I LOVE this post – YAY for your fashionable commentary Jaz!!!
I’m blushing, KK!!
And now it is time for my high- and lowlights in Eurovision fashion of the past five years, starting with the girls ;-)!
Fashion highlighs (female):
2010: Safura (Azerbaijan) – I was delighted by her enlighted blue dress, not so by the song!
2011: Nadine Beiler (Austria) & Getter Jaani (Estonia) –
The classic black dress of Nadine looked beautiful and reduced the performance to a
more beatiful song. Normally I don’t like pink dresses that much, but Getters’ looked
more like the one of a princess from a fairytale which I found really sweet! Maybe she
wanted to impress Alexander Rybak?!
2012: Pastora Soler (Spain) – She looked gorgeous in that dress which fitted her perfectly!
2013: Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine) & Aliona Moon (Moldova) –
I have just one word for Zlata and that is “perfect”; in that classic dress she gave me
my perfect 3 minutes of 2013! Aliona’s dress was a “Wow” moment on stage, the only
dress I can remeber that also had a function in the performance. Very clever to use
the dress as a visual platform!
2014: Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan) & Ilse DeLange (Netherlands) –
Dilara’s red dress symbolized the “fire” to me and worked really well with the song, and
she looked very pretty in that dream of a red dress! Just so beautiful! Ilse from the
Common Linnets also wore a classic short dress which was not eye-catching but
perfect to support the song. Sometimes less can be more (effective)! 😉
Now I go on with the lowlights in female fashion:
2010: Sieneke (Netherlands) – again the Netherlands, but this time this lady’s outfit looked as
bad and simple as her song was. It was all crappy, and who the hell told her to wear
that whilte leggins??? Poor and cheap – that look of Sieneke!
2011: Daria Kinzer (Croatia) & Nina (Serbia) –
I am absolutely your opinion with all of the dresses of Daria – one more hideous than
the next, and the idea of the dress change was not new! She should have worn
something more “celebrity-like”! Too many colours on stage can ruin a dress, that was
the case with Nina! It was all so bright and shiny that I could not watch the stage in
Düsseldorf because my eyes hurt! A painful memory ;-)))!
2012: Joan Franka (Netherlands) & Gaitana (Ukraine) –
And another Dutch outfit that was not all mine! I mean if you come on stage
as “Winnetou’s wife”, you should do this in perfection not just half-hearted, IMO!
Gaitana just looked like the character Bibo from Sesame Street in her feathery
dress which did not fit her at all!!!
2013: Moran Mazor (Israel) & Moje 3 (Serbia) –
Moran gave me that “Oh-my-God-Look-at-that” moment where you cannot stop
watching and thinking “why oh why” at the same time! She really looked like
a “sausage in a too tight skin”, but her beautiful song did not deserve not to qualify!
Nothing to wear for next Saturdays party? Then watch the Serbian entry of 2013 and
you can get some inspiration of what the ideal party outfit could look like! 🙂 Honestly,
they deserved the “B-Dex-Award” last year, and Nevena’s facial expression says it all!
2014: Molly (United Kingdom) & Emma Marrone (Italy)
Well, the ladies from the British Isles were not on top of the fashion point this year!
While Kasey Smith from Ireland was wearing a “Cleopatra” dress that looked rather
strange, Molly from the UK has stolen something golden from the pharao and made a
dress out of it! Not all that glitters is gold ;-)!
And Emma from Italy gave me the “No go” moment of this year! Not only the “Cesar’s
hair crown”, but also her much too short dress was really embarrassing, IMO! Maybe
that outfit has cost her some points from various countries! And compared to the
classic Italian outfits the years before, this was just not what one would expect from the
land of fashion.
… and now on with the gents and boys!
Fashion highlights (male):
2010: Harel Skaat (Israel) – his classic suit fitted perfectly to his classic ballad! I think he was
the best looking singer of 2010!
2011: Amaury Vassili (France) & Loucas Yiorkas (Greece) –
Amaury did not only sing like a God, he also looked handsome on stage in his classic
French jacket. I am a fan of French singers from the island of Corse, I also love Patrick
Fiori and his music very much!
Loucas also wore a very good looking suit on stage which was even more shining
through that good camera work! If there just had not been that rap part in his song!
2012: Zeljko Joksimovic (Serbia) – I think Zeljko would even look great in a dustbag, wouldn’t
he? He always wears classic suits with ethnic elements that leave enough space to let
the songs shine, not just him as a singer! But I must admit that I liked his suit from
2004 a bit more than the one in Baku.
2013: Marco Mengoni (Italy) & Farid Mammadov (Azerbaijan)
Marco looked great in Malmö in his turquoise-blue suit, which is what i expect from
Italian singers ;-)! But one could feel his nervousness by looking at his hands during
his performance! Just having him and his beautiful song on stage was more than
enough to get a brilliant performance! Again: less is more!
Farid Mammadov was an eye-catcher in his grey suit, and his performance was much
better than his song. Here I think a lot of voters have voted with their eyes rather than
their ears ;-)!
2014: Basim (Denmark) & Sergej Cetkovic (Montenegro)
Basim wore the more modern kind of a classic suit and his style looked good on stage.
He looked a bit and sang like Bruno Mars, but dressed like Michael Bublé which was
not a bad decision!
Sergej like Zeljko also wore a classic suit with some traditional elements that looked
good, but not importunate! And all in all it fit perfectly to his classic Balkan ballad ;-)!
Last but not least, the male lowlights in Eurovision fashion:
2010: Milan Stankovic (Serbia) & Michael von der Heide (Switzerland) –
Milan to me looked like a Manga comic character (somehow ridiculous) and his haircut
was a big challenge to watch! And then there was Swiss Michael von der Heide who
wore a nightmare of a golden suit, IMO! He possibly could play a role in “Golden girls”
with that, but on the Eurovision stage that was simply too much!
2011: Zdob si Zdub (Moldova) & Jedward (Ireland) –
I just did not like the combination of average streetwear and colourful shirts, wearing
big hats to it! Although it was quite funny, it was not a milestone in Eurovision fashion
to me! And then there were the Irish jumpers in their jump suits who always remind me
of Kriss Kross ( I can hear them singing: Kriss Kross will make you JUMP, JUMP!!! :-))
I did not like anything about them (not comming back to “Twins at the Eurovision”)!
2012: Anri Jokhadze (Georgia) & Rambo Amadeus (Montenegro) –
Actually, Anri should have worn his cape from the beginning for the whole three
minutes! What then came next was the exact opposite of an “eye candy”! Horrible!
And Rambo Amadeus really looked like a nasty person in bad Hollywood thriller, and
so was his song! In terms of fashion I did not see any new trends in his wear on
2013: Cezar (Romania) & Who See (Montenegro) –
Cezar’s vampire look was not what I like to see on Eurovision stage and it has built a
strong contrast to his voice! I mean outfit and voice did not work well together, it was
ridiculous and laughable, so this entry was my toilet break at the Malmö Arena!
“Who See” maybe have watched their favourite movie “The Astronaut’s wife” a million
times too much, so it explains the costumes they chose for their performance in the
semi-final! No wonder that they disappeared into space directly after the show!!!
2014: Aarzemnieki (Latvia) & Pollapönk (Iceland) –
Aarzemnieki were just too boring, wearing their street casual wear on stage! They
should have worn something more eye-catchy that would have supported the fun in
that song a bit more! The way they did, it was just a “Lame Fun Entry”, IMO!
Thank God, Pollapönk wore some real colourful suits in the final, not just their jogging
suits, which was a progress in terms of fashion. But I simply did not like it, although it
fitted to their song, which was also not my cup of tea! 😉
Enough from me for today, and thank you so much for your wonderful fashion blog! great pleasure to read it!
Until next time,
Danke for what I think is a new record for the longest comment ever on EBJ!! Love it.
I agree with most of your highs and lows (shocking!). You paint an very amusing picture!! I would disagree with Serbia 2011 and the UK this year as being lowlights. I actually want to copy Molly’s whole outfit, henna tatts and ridiculous shoes included. But I probably won’t, so don’t worry!
Well, what a BRILLIANT post, Jazwell!!! (What should I expect, right?)
You have once again nailed things with your usual … nailiness. Great memories, and some handy reminders about potential fashion options for the next work Christmas party. (:0)
So, here are some tidbits coming from my slightly skewed perspective.
First, some honourable mentions.
Best reveal: Definitely InCulto, Lithuania, 2010. They would have rocked (funked?) the Final if they’d made it, and Oslo 2010 definitely needed more decent songs to ‘get up and dance’ to (notwithstanding the efforts of Milan Stankovic, and Jessy Matador, amongst others).
Interested in your views, but my most “oh-my-God-but-you-know-what-I-think-she’s-actually-somehow-carried-it-off” moment was:
Moran Mazor, Israel, 2013 – “Hello, yes, this is my shape, these are my various dimensions, and here’s how I’ve decided to package them all up for you: KAPOWEE!!!” Sometimes Chutzpah pays off, big time. From some angles it may have looked like some sort of glammed-up variation on a tracksuit, but I think her outfit (and her performance) — complete with Nana Mouskouri glasses — may have succeeded in reducing to pathetic, blubbering puddles on the floor some of those viewers who are not unfavourably disposed to a generously proportioned female form (not necessarily speaking from personal experience, mind you! …)
By contrast, Emma’s spectacular costume – La Chutzpah-issima — (Italy 2014) did not quite get her there, but was probably worth a try. (And I thought she was great nevertheless — it was the lighting, staging and camerawork that let her down, mostly.)
Overall, my awards for the most stylish threads of the EBJ era would go to:
Male: Marco Mengoni (What colour would you call that suit? Marco Persian blue?)
Female: At the risk of sounding repetitive, and a bit obsessed … Anouk! (Netherlands 2013)
Her clothes and appearance perfectly complemented the song and the performance. Casual and understated, but confident and mature, with a hint of street-smart grunge (you could see a glimpse of her right upper-forearm tattoo). The darker tones highlighted the framing of her face by her slightly unkempt hair, with mesmerising effect. And potently reminded us that Eurovision’s soul is not encrusted in sequins and glitter, but with something a lot less ephemeral.
And, BTW, J: I think even if someone listening to her song were to happen to throw themselves off a cliff (as you suggest), they would. IMO, rather than fall to an untimely death, be more likely (perhaps ironically, given what happens to the birds in the lyrics) to float ethereally skywards, buoyed by the divine qualities of the song … but PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS!
Speaking of which, there are many things I’d like to be cured of, but chronic JESCaphobia is not one of them. So, thanks for the warning, and, no offence, but I’ll take a break from EBJ for the next post, if you don’t mind. But good luck with it anyway (he says with an involuntarily contorted facial expression).
You do know you’re now obligated to tweet me a photo of your Xmas party outfit, right?? I suggest at least three costume reveals throughout the evening if you really want to make an impact (just ensure each look is less hideous than Daria’s).
Hmm, I am still in two minds about Moran. Well, not so much Moran herself (she is clearly amazing and I want to be her BFF) but le dress. I just think the main issue was that it was so distracting, her stunning vocal and emoting-ness et cetera were forced into the background. The song became secondary to the lady lumps. But I dig the monochrome/mermaid combo, so…IDK. I would like to know how she managed to get on and offstage in a dress that looked so sprayed-on.
I have decided to call Marco’s shade of blue ‘Remove that suit immediately and get in my bed’. Just ‘blue’ for short.
It wouldn’t have been right if Anouk had appeared in a diamond-encrusted, 65-layer tulle ballgown with Katy Perry-esque chest whirlers, that’s for sure. Sometimes less is more.
Re: JESC, each to their own! I will see you on the other side of the post I’ve just put up, then 🙂