1. Madonna’s performance of “Living for Love” came in at number one. The woman will probably still be rocking fishnet stockings and corsets on stage when she’s 75 years old – and that’s why we love her. Her matador number might not have been the best performance of her career (or of last night’s Grammys) but she’s Madonna. It’s not like she needs to prove herself anymore. She appears on a stage, we watch.
2. The moment Sam Smith won Best Pop Vocal Album for In the Lonely Hour came in at number two. It was a big award, and the singer-songwriter is having a hell of a year. Backstage he thanked an ex-boyfriend for breaking his heart and inspiring all the songs on the album. He wins again.
3. Leave it to Pharrell to turn “Happy” – a song we’ve all heard at least 600 times in the last six months – into something new. Dressed like a sixteen-year old bellhop, Pharrell was backed by classical pianist Lang Lang and film composer Hans Zimmer. No one can make neon yellow moccasins (or whatever those things were) look as cool as he can.
4. After a speech from President Obama and an emotional, brave spoken-word piece by domestic violence survivor Brooke Axtell, Katy Perry performed “By the Grace of God,” and people watched. Perry kept it simple this time – no sharks, no bikinis, no Super Bowl pageantry.
5. Sir Paul McCartney was lead guitarist and backup singer for Rihanna and Kanye on “FourFiveSeconds,” and TiVo watchers tuned in, despite the fact that it was one of the more awkward performances of the night. It was an odd trio and the on-stage chemistry was about as exciting as waiting in line at the post office. It’s hard not to tune in for Rihanna, though. And people did.
Riccardo Tisci and B. Akerlund on Madonna’s Grammy Outfits.
During a mostly dull Grammy awards, Madonna provided a ray of high-fashion light. We have designer Riccardo Tisci and stylist B. Akerlund to thank. Tisci collaborated with Akerlund and Madonna on two custom Givenchy Haute Couture looks—a pastel and black corset dress for the red carpet and a crimson leotard, jacket, and cape for the stage—that brought something extra to the ceremony in a way only Madonna can.
“Madonna is a real life friend and working with her is always effortless, like collaborating with family,” Tisci explained. “We created a Matador inspired set of Haute Couture pieces to match her theme of “Living for Love.” I loved the idea of her as this Givenchy warrior in full Couture embroidery and color blocking.” Tisci’s creations took 50 people 2500 hours of hand-beading the couture tradition, according to Akerlund, but it was worth it. “M is famous for knowing how to take a risk in multiple fields at the same time, and as usual, we all saw how it pays off,” Tisci said of the performance.
“Me and Madonna love collaborating with [Givenchy] because we did the Super Bowl together, and we thought that it would be perfect to call Riccardo again,” Akerlund told Style.com. “They’re really good friends and we thought he’d be perfect to do the iconic [Matador look], and we wanted him both for the performance and the red carpet to do the theme.” The matador inspiration is a continuation from Madonna’s “Living for Love” video, and although toreadors appeared on the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2015 runway and in Madge’s 1994 “Take a Bow” video, Akerlund wasn’t looking to current or past events for inspiration. “I think the whole relationship between the matador and the bulls is something that we find a beautiful relationship, and [we] played with that—how she’s killing off the bulls and she’s the matador standing in the end. There’s a beautiful story for why the matadors fight the bulls and that also reflects life.”
In addition to Givenchy, Madonna wore Miu Miu shoes, Lynn Ban earrings, and rings by Loree Rodkin and Elise Dray to perform and earrings and ring cuff by Yeprem and rings by Lyn Bann on the red carpet. Akerlund explained that even with shimmering Givenchy couture, there’s no such thing as too much sparkle for the Queen of Pop. “I love bling, so we always have lots of bling up to the last minute. I always like to do bling last because it’s hard to predict what might work for the performance and what she can dance with and all those things factor in the decision making of adding jewelry— everything goes down to the performance, if it works or not.”
Madonna’s team and the Givenchy team had been working together on the Grammy looks since Christmastime—“We and the Givenchy team are closely married,” admitted Akerlund of the process—and though they had other options for the night, the choice to go with Givenchy was clear. “It’s a gut feeling. I always go with my gut. I like it, she likes it. If I don’t like it she doesn’t like it. That’s how I weigh it. I’ve worked with her for like nine years now, so I feel like I understand what she likes and it goes along with my personal taste and what I like,” said Aklerund. “We’re definitely in a matador world,” the stylist proclaimed, “and we’re owning it.”
Watch: Madonna’s Grammy Performance