Thursday, April 5, 2012

When Country Went to Vegas: The Academy of Country Music Awards

Host Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, 
country music's hottest married couple
Recently, Marianne downloaded an app for her phone that allows us to listen to radio stations in my native Italy, and would you like to know what the most popular music is in my “home” country? Country!

That’s right. Country music is the most popular genre of music in Italy – in much of Europe as well, and of course here in my adopted homeland. There’s been an evolution/revolution in country music, which can now boast as many variations and interpretations as the category of “pop music.” Anyone who thinks country music is women in huge teased hair, too much makeup, and tacky clothes, or men in 10-gallon hats or baseball caps, pointy boots, and big belt buckles hasn’t been paying attention.

Hannah Blaylock of Eden's Edge
Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards was a perfect example of just how much country music has changed in a generation. Yes, it does revere its icons – I think music has always been much better at this than some of the other performing arts – yet take a look at some of these absolutely lovely ladies, who may as well have been attending the Academy Awards with their understanding of fashion, hair, and makeup, and how to put all three together to create a total look.

Cherrill Green of Eden's Edge
Hannah Blaylock and Cherrill Green of the band Eden’s Edge are a beautiful study in contrasts, which no doubt works quite well onstage. Hannah’s glossy dark up-do and classic Old Hollywood Grecian-draped white silk gown are complemented by expertly applied makeup that further enhance “classic glamour” vibe. She looks like a cross between a young Elizabeth Taylor and Megan Fox. Her blonde bandmate, Cherrill Green, chose a very contemporary look with her ombre purple halter gown, loose beachy ringlets with multi-tonal highlights, and double-winged eyeliner – all very on-trend.

Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town
Another pair of bandmates played off their contrasting coloring was well: Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Rhodes Schlapman of Little Big Town. Karen’s look is very Sixties-inspired, with her dark Bardot-esque hairstyle, smoky eye makeup, and long plunging halter dress. 

Kimberly Rhodes Schlapman of Little Big Town
Kimberly’s naturally curly blonde mane is styled into a free-form modern shag, and her pretty pastel makeup is right off the Spring 2012 runways, as is her short white-on-white sequined mini with its tailored details
Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum
Next, we have a bevy of sexy brunettes. Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum enhances her striking green eyes with cool brown tones in her long, layered hair. No flat irons here – just tons of body and shine, beautifully applied makeup, and an understated black gown that makes the most of her generous figure.

Rachel Reinert of Gloriana
At the warm end of the brunette spectrum is Rachel Reinert of Gloriana, whose long disconnected layers and warm cinnamon highlights bring out the green in her hazel eyes.  

Katie Armiger
In the same color family is Katie Armiger, with her glossy all-over dark auburn color bringing out her bright green eyes. This is definitely a group of women who understand the power of long, luscious locks rather than too “done” up-do.

Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square
Thompson Square’s Shawna Thompson wore her long raven locks swept over one shoulder in a mass of loose, shining waves. Again, very Old Hollywood when paired with her dusty purple micro-pleated gown and vintage-inspired jewelry. 
Sara Evans' red carpet "don't"
Performer Sara Evans’ red carpet look was our least favorite of the night (an ill-fitting, Pepto-pink satin one-sleeved gown that would not have flattered ANYONE). 

Sara Evan's on-stage "do" --
what a difference!
But she completely redeemed it with her change into this sheer chiffon top and leather pants (WOW!), which brought out the warm highlights in her long center-parted hair. It really goes to show how the wrong color – even with the right makeup and hair – can throw a look off.

Taylor Swift
And then there were the beautiful blondes. America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift, wore an haute couture J. Mendel white gown that was by voted by every fashion blog as the hand-down winner of the night.  Taylor wore one of her two signature looks: smoky eyes and nude lips, and paired it with a smooth blow-out of her trademark ringlets. She could have walked any red carpet from Cannes to Beverly Hills!

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland
Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland wore a neon pink gown with a bright yellow beaded belt that showed how pink should be worn. She also wore one of the night’s only ponytails, clasped low at the nape, but it was nicely undone and well-suited to her style. 

LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes and Laura Bell Bundy wore the few up-dos of the evening. LeAnn’s was gathered high with tousled ends, a smooth crown, and a side part with a few wispy pieces framing her face above a very short Stella McCartney dress. It suited the casual look she was cultivating nicely. 

Laura Bell Bundy
Laura’s low side-chignon was obviously meant to balance out her one-sleeved silver gown, but it was all a bit of a misfire. The chignon was a too messy in contrast to the rest of her hair, and the dress was perhaps too much of a good thing. Had both elements been taken down a notch, this one would have been a winner. Her makeup was gorgeous, though.

Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry
Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry wore her long layers in twisty mermaid waves that were much more rock-and-roll than country. 

Carrie Underwood
It certainly was quite a refreshing contrast to Carrie Underwood’s long blonde ‘do, which has remained essentially the same since her American Idol win. She’s a talented and beautiful girl, but she has a look and she sticks with it. 

Beth Behrs
One of the most attractive looks of the night was actress Beth Behrs of Two Broke Girls with her blush-colored Empire gown and matching makeup, and her artfully tousled waves and soft bangs. She was both angelic and sexy at once.

The night's "golden girl," Miranda Lambert
Finally, host Blake Shelton’s wife, the take-no-prisoners powerhouse Miranda Lambert, won not only ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ and ‘Album of the Year,’ but was a vision in gold from the top of her head to the tip of her toes in a liquid gold sequined gown and cascading golden curls. Hollywood has absolutely nothing on these “Country Girls.”            

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