For his first order of business as host of the 2005 Video Music Awards in Miami, Diddy changed the red carpet to white. His second was to force people to step up their games when they walked it by issuing a fashion challenge worth $50,000 to the best-dressed member of each sex.
While Diddy himself was notably absent from the carpet, his girlfriend, Kim Porter, was not. And as she said herself: She's in it to win it. Her barely there orange dress cut down to her navel (thank you, double-stick tape!) and went only as far up as television will allow. As for the back, the only things touching her skin were ornate red coral strands.
Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas arrived in a canary-yellow dress with a green belt and straps. The front of the dress was a miniskirt and the back was a cascade of train-length ruffles.
Her BEP brethren were also up for the challenge, as usual. Will.I.Am started a trend by wearing velvet in the Miami heat. His red blazer was layered over an orange shirt, a gray vest and white tie; his accessories were a camouflage hat and argyle socks. Apl.de.Ap wore a pink paisley shirt and tie with pink plaid knickers, while Taboo, the most understated of the group, wore a brown suit with camouflage accents and a green tie.
Ciara looked sexy in a black micro-minidress with bat-wing sleeves and knee-high metallic wedge boots with studs adorning the back like a seam (see "Ciara's Hot VMA Look Comes With A Cool Half-Million Price
Tag"), while Lindsay Lohan rocked a leopard-print cap-sleeved dress.
As for the fellas, the sharpest dressers were the usual (preppy and cliquey) suspects: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Common and John Legend. Jay's blue-on-blue engineer-striped suit contrasted starkly with his white shirt, white silk tie and tremendous pinky ring. Kanye arrived on the white carpet relaxed, smoking a cigar, with the sleeves of his white jacket and eggplant shirt pushed up to his elbows; down below were lavender pants. Common rocked professorial chic in a brown button-down shirt, maroon tie, green plaid vest and brown trousers. And John Legend didn't arrive on a boat, but he wore a navy captain's jacket with white shirts and pants.
More classic outfits came from the Killers, 50 Cent and Green Day. Killers frontman Brandon Flowers donned a white dinner jacket, a black V-neck tee, black slacks and elaborately laced tuxedo shoes. Fiddy was all business in a khaki suit, blue shirt and silver tie, while Billie Joe Armstrong wore a white dinner jacket, a black-and-white polka-dot tie, and let a little rock star slip in there with black leather pants. Game wore a red bandana-print tie under his white suit and Cincinnati Reds baseball cap.
Some of the ladies either took inspiration from the 1950s or extra precaution not to let their hair wither in the heat: Ashlee Simpson, Eva Longoria and G-Unit's Olivia all sported beehive-side ponytails as their 'do of choice. Ashlee wore a ruched and ruffled one-shoulder black dress, while Olivia and Eva preferred something more sparkly, in sequins and a draped T-shirt dress with crystal sleeves, respectively.
Paris Hilton put a little sparkle in her step in a tie-dyed Grecian dress with multicolored crystals snaking their way across her midsection, as did Kirsten Dunst in her slouchy, short-sleeved minidress. But it was Beyoncé who outdid them all in a blinding silver floor-length gown.
Trina channeled Beyoncé from awards shows past, wearing a yellow gown with cut-out sides and a green-and-yellow scarf skirt.
Some people opted for a nearly nude look — like Alicia Keys in a beige strapless dress, Hilary Duff in a nude-and-sequined flapper dress, and Kelly Clarkson in a gold satin halter. Lil' Kim's silky blush tank dress was an understated way to get the skin-is-in effect she usually goes for. Jessica Simpson went a less subliminal route and showed her legs from a pair of cuffed black shorts — and a little more up top, thanks to her black-and-white ruffled flyaway peasant top, which revealed her black lacy bra from the back.
Others came in strong, solid colors. Both Ice-T and Mase walked the carpet in bright yellow from head to toe. More traditionally, My Chemical Romance ditched their Kevlar (on the red carpet, anyway) and opted for all black. Gerard Way also got in on the velvet act, with soft tufts accenting his tuxedo jacket. R. Kelly also dressed in all black, with the exception of the white lettering on his T-shirt, which read "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" Both Nick Lachey and Joel and Benji Madden followed those guys' lead, as did Jessica Alba in her black shift dress with — you guessed it — a velvet corset belt.
But once again, members of Diddy's crew pulled off the look best: His kids all wore matching white jackets, white shorts, black shirts and identical untied ties.
As for the too-cool-for-school crowd, the Bravery all sported variations on the same look: deliberate haircuts, jeans, tight tees and jackets. Ludacris was cool in a blue shirt, blue-and-white pinstripe pants and a white straw hat. And Usher hopped off his yacht in a shiny blue jacket, white pants, yellow shirt and a silver pocket square.
Finally, the winners of Diddy's challenge did themselves proud: Gwen Stefani in a leopard-print mermaid halter dress with a thin black ribbon belt, and Snoop in a white suit with blue bandana-print lapels, tie and even shoelaces. They weren't the most extravagant or the most restrained outfits — but they were perfectly executed.