NEW YORK — On the night of MTV's 20th Video Music Awards, we are reminded that the more fashions change, the more they stay the same.
The show's opening number was a reenactment of Madonna's notorious 1984 "Like a Virgin" performance, featuring Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in tarty bride outfits, rolling on the floor, while Madonna arose from the wedding cake as the groom, dressed in all black, tall boots and a top hat. After Madonna gave Britney and X-tina each a kiss on the mouth (see "Madonna Smooches With Britney And Christina; Justin, Coldplay Win Big At VMAs"), Missy Elliott came out in a tuxedo with tails and a sequined baseball hat.
But before that spectacle, dapper Diddy disciple Farnsworth Bentley showed nearly everyone up in a cream suit with a plaid shirt and striped tie. And what he was lacking in fashion — which wasn't much — he made up for in old-fashioned sensibilities. Farnsworth alternated between using an umbrella to shade himself from the sun and using a violin to serenade red-carpet arrivals.
A close second was 50 Cent in his pinstriped gray suit with complementing platinum tie and fedora, not to mention some serious ice on his wrist. His date, actress Vivica A. Fox, wore what might have been a dress borrowed from Lil' Kim's closet. You got it — short, tight and low-cut.
Snoop made a pimptastic entrance, leading his escorts in on leashes, while pimps in their own right, Outkast, showed their sartorial savvy once again. Big Boi wore a red, yellow and blue plaid tuxedo, and Andre 3000 rocked a Bartles & Jaymes getup consisting of a pink shirt and pants, chartreuse tie and suspenders, and a white hat.
Another man never afraid to wear pink is Pharrell Williams, who wore a black blazer with a pink button-down shirt. But the real inspiration for that outfit was seminal '80s band Duran Duran, whose five original members came to the show looking hot as ever, baring their sexy British chests.
Good Charlotte, dressed mostly in black, used the VMAs to celebrate a momentous occasion for faux-hawked twin Joel Madden: his first time dressing up. "I've never worn a tie before," he confessed.
Meanwhile, shades of bubblegum were big with many of the women on the red carpet. Christina Aguilera wore a hot pink feather minidress, Ashanti donned a pink glitter cutaway dress with feather-and-diamond earrings, Tweet wore a white T-shirt dress with pink airbrushed stripes and two-tone Cruella De Vil boots, and Beyoncé wore a sparkly trench coat minidress.
Beyoncé's Destiny's Child sister Kelly Rowland lost the red from her hair onto the flirty dress she was wearing, the Donnas mistook the VMAs for a retro prom, and the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" guys were all studied casual — a look they said they achieved through plenty of storyboarding and focus group surveys.
Others opted for a more casual look. Kelly Osbourne wore a pleated black miniskirt and a yellow T-shirt printed with the words "Young, Willing and Eager," Avril Lavigne wore a black corset and low-slung trousers, and Jessica Simpson channeled her inner Loni Anderson with her short blonde bob and white secretary pantsuit.
DMX and Dirt McGirt made conspicuous appearances, with X donning camouflage gear from his own Bloodline clothing line and ODB playing it straight in a white suit with a red shirt and hanky. Ludacris sported a mustard ostrich jacket, Fred Durst rolled out of bed wearing a "New York City" T-shirt and blue baseball cap, and Chingy made his debut VMA appearance in a throwback airbrushed denim suit and a red doo-rag. Latecomer Jay-Z was laid-back in a blue button-down shirt, and fellow Roc-A-Fella fellow Damon Dash came with a lovely date on his arm: a bottle of vodka.
Pamela Anderson, accompanied by photographer/director David LaChapelle, squeezed into a tube top that was longer than her micro miniskirt, and hawked her upcoming "Scary Movie 3." Her "Baywatch" replacement, Carmen Electra, wore an aquamarine dress, while fiancé Dave Navarro wore a belly-grazing olive muscle shirt and matching arm warmer in addition to his requisite leather lace-up pants.
Already a multiple winner before the show began, Coldplay's Chris Martin wore a casual navy suit and said modestly, "We're just going to look very handsome and that will be that."
Catch all the sizzlin', star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News' preshow kicks things off at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.