NEW YORK — From Elton John's bedazzling glasses and Stevie Wonder's beaded braids to Ghostface Killah's painted Wallabee shoes, music and fashion have always been inseparable.
Stars from both worlds wore their most eye-popping duds Friday at the Hammerstein Ballroom for the taping of this year's VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, which airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.
P. Diddy — the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy and designer known as Sean John — took home the award for Sharp-Dressed Man. Wearing a gray three-piece suit and blue tie, Diddy thanked his mother for teaching him at an early age that "fashion had no restrictions."
Lenny Kravitz, the night's first musical act, wasn't as spiffy as Diddy as he sang "Dig In" from Lenny, due out October 30. But it was more about rebellious rocking than polished looks for Kravitz, who set the party off on the Hammerstein's roof in sunglasses, black scarf, tight blue jeans and body-hugging leather jacket. Like the rest of his band, Kravitz also sported an unkempt afro. And who needs a stage when you have the Empire State Building as your backdrop?
Inside, Mariah Carey's "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life" was the antithesis of Lenny's no-frills approach. As DJ Clue and Fabolous spun records and rhymes, an onstage door opened to reveal Carey astride a motorcycle. She sashayed down to Fab while singing the famous disco track. Carey, in a black dress and visible bra, primped and strutted for the audience as a gaggle of muscle men dressed in sleeveless black tuxedos, hot-pink bow ties and matching Kangol hats shimmied on a lit runway.
Some of Macy Gray's dancers were as buff as Mariah's Chippendales lookalikes, although several members of her 20-member troupe wore stiletto heels as they danced in drag to "Sexual Revolution." Macy — dressed entirely in red with heavy makeup, false eyelashes and sporting a cane — resembled Marilyn Manson. "Everybody shake it, time to be free amongst yourselves," she sang as drag queens pranced around in sheer suits displaying their thongs.
Funk king George Clinton joined the flamboyant antics, encouraging listeners to "get down for the funk of it."
Many presenters and winners — including Sarah Jessica Parker, Hillary Clinton, Lil' Kim and show host Renée Zellweger — referred in their remarks to the greatness of New York and the importance of living life as normally as possible after the events of September 11.
John Mellencamp and India.Arie's "Peaceful World" resonated strongly in this regard.
Seen in silhouette against a screen, Alicia Keys appeared to play piano and sing "Fallin' " on the venue's main stage. But the pianist turned out to be a double when Keys emerged on another stage in the middle of the crowd. Her a cappella version of "Respect" there earned the night's loudest reaction.
Headliners Sugar Ray closed the show appropriately with "When It's Over." A seemingly supercharged Mark McGrath ran back and forth between the two stages. He wore a black shirt and black jeans, and they were all he needed to look like a star.