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For Jon Batiste’s performance at the 64th annual Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, Dolce & Gabbana set up an offshoot of their atelier in the ballroom of the MGM Grand to create over 40 custom looks for the music artist, his dancers, a choir and the band.
“They flew 20 people from their atelier in Milan to Vegas and set up a whole creative costume workshop downstairs, where they are creating everything on-site for us,” Ugo Mozie, Batiste’s stylist, tells The Hollywood Reporter exclusively. “So it’s a pretty magical fashion experience happening in Vegas right now! The looks were all designed individually to reflect everyone’s personality. I went to Milan three weeks ago to meet with the design team at the atelier, and we went through all the designs.”
The most nominated musician at the 2022 Grammys, Batiste was up for 11 awards for his eighth album, We Are, and performed his hit single “Freedom” at the ceremony, which speaks to racial equality and gay rights.
The performance was a fresh riff on the song’s video, which premiered in June 2021 and was shot in Batiste’s hometown of New Orleans. “Freedom” won in the category of best music video Sunday night.
Mozie teamed up with Batiste’s creative director, Jemel McWilliams, for this outing, which comprises everything from backgrounds and stage props to apparel and accessories.
“We had to think which brand in the world could create our vision, nail the costumes, and give us the creative control to be able to collaborate,” says Mozie. The answer? Dolce & Gabbana.
“Jon is very eccentric,” says Mozie. “He’s a very elaborate yet specific kind of artist. Jemel and I wanted to make sure that we really embodied all his ideas and took it as far as possible for this Grammys stage. It has a futuristic modern feel, like it’s 2060, but is still timeless. I think that John is the prince charming of the night, the king of the night. His performance look is regal, luxurious, unforgettable.”
Onstage, Batiste’s custom Dolce & Gabbana suit repeats his style signature of slim tailored trousers cropped to reveal his socks, paired with a sharp, double-breasted jacket, a 15-foot-long trained cape and Boucheron jewelry. The color was a light blue metallic custom-made to match the set.
“We were going for bold and flashy, something that really catches the light,” says Mozie.
As in the video, the costuming syncs up with the backdrops. “The stage is completely custom-built — every pole, every detail,” says Mozie. “We lined up the fabrics to the color of the walls; we matched the silhouettes and shapes of the clouds to elements on the outfits. We wanted to create a world where the stage and the costumes and the props all flowed together. In the music video, there’s so much vibrancy and action and liveliness happening. We wanted to bring that same energy to the stage.”
All the dancers and vocalists who are part of Batiste’s Grammy performance are also dressed in Dolce & Gabbana. The spirited female Jonettes dancers wear teal blue; male Cool Cats dancers don navy; and two additional dancers stand out in gold body paint with matching cargo pants. And the choir costumes, in shades of purple, are “sexy, modern” silhouettes, says Mozie.
As a surprise element, special guests appeared onstage wearing their own traditional cultural ensembles.
Earlier in the night, on the red carpet, Batiste made a splash in a sequined suit with piles of Boucheron diamond jewelry. “It’s a very rich, sequined fabric with a custom yellow-and-gray geometrical print that has a tribal element to it that feels like Africa and New Orleans,” says Mozie, noting that it is paired with a clean white silk shirt.
Continuing the regal theme, Batiste — an early winner at the Grammys for best American roots performance for his song “Cry” — planned to finish off the night in yet another outfit.
“I call it the icing on the cake because it’s going to be a lot of ice,” says Mozie. “And then he will be dripping with beautiful diamond jewelry.”
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