Taraji P. Henson’s BET Awards wardrobe was a stunning tribute to black excellence
Fashion at the BET Awards is daring. The annual celebration of black excellence is all about exuberant style and last night’s show was no exception. Between Lil Nas X reveling in Richard Quinn’s latest collection, Cardi B announcing her pregnancy in a Dolce & Gabbana jeweled catsuit and Naomi Campbell wowing the crowd in gold-ruffled Gucci, the event had no shortage of on-trend fashion. Yet no one embodied the outrageous vibe of the evening better than host Taraji P. Henson.
The actress was the host of the evening and her most versatile fashion star. With multiple changes in outfits, hairstyles and beauty looks, Henson kept the party going while paying homage to the Black Hollywood icons who inspired her. For Henson, the carefully crafted tributes to women like Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Esther Jones, the vaudevillian who inspired Betty Boop, were tied to the theme of the evening and her own experiences as a performer. âThe theme for this year is ‘Year of the Black Woman, and that’s right and it’s about time!’ she shared via email. “I had been to so many previous shows, and now I’m the host, it was like a loop moment.”
To reflect this spirit, Henson and her stylist Jason Bolden sought to refer to the pioneers in the industry. âWe looked at it. It’s all about a black woman who inspires or admires Taraji, âBolden explained. “From Erykah Badu, Tina Turner and Diana Ross to these incredibly powerful and strong business women she knows.” Each celebrity was portrayed through a runway piece that appeared to come out of their closet. Ross was a sparkly Greta Constantine cape worn over a matching catsuit, a nod to the gold lamÃ© ensemble she wore to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in 1986. Henson channeled Turner into a wig. choppy blonde and a gold sequin mini dress similar to the gold Azzedine AlaÃ¯a designs the star wore in the ’80s and’ 90s. Even future legends got a fashion scream – Henson changed into plum Dundas for make her best impression on stage. Henson credits the success of these flashbacks to Bolden and his glamorous team. âThat’s all Jason, he’s amazing, and I trust him completely,â she said. âWe have worked together for so long; he knows exactly what I like and what I don’t like and is always the best partner for great times like this.
The clothes were up to the task, but the complete transformations wouldn’t have been possible without Henson’s beauty experts. With hairdresser Tym Wallace using products from her TPH hair care line by Taraji, makeup artist Saisha Beecham creating a series of precise period looks and manicurist Temeka Jackson making custom gold-tipped nails for the occasion, every detail. shone. âI trust my glam team, let them play and have fun,â Henson says. âThese are the experts. I did a few hair preparations with my hair care line, but other than that I just let my team do their thing, and I think they crushed it.
With tributes from Henson, Zendaya bringing back BeyoncÃ©’s aughts-era outfits and Queen Latifah’s Lifetime Achievement Award reminiscent of decades of hip hop fashion, the 2021 BET Awards paid homage to the past. Still, the night wasn’t just about looking back. As host Henson set the tone for the evening, she kept her red carpet style current in a dress from Atelier Versace’s Spring / Summer 2020 collection. âShe wanted to be fully herself fabulous, and this incredible Versace was pure Taraji,â Bolden explains. “She said,” I’m a woman of a certain age, I love where I am, I love who I am and I’m not afraid to indulge in what makes me happy. âIt’s a ball of laughter and joy, someone who doesn’t dress for other people but really considers how the clothes make them feel. So when we tried the sample, and he went well, we just knew it was meant to be. â
The significance of the night went beyond the clothes. “I just felt [so] honored, âsays Henson. âIt’s culture’s greatest night, and I wanted everyone to have a good time and party. I was so excited for everyone to watch at home and there to be a real live audience. We had a few surprises up our sleeves; it was definitely an unforgettable night.