Singer Shocks in Barbed Wire "Build the Wall" Gown on Grammys Red Carpet
The singer, who donned pro-Trump and pro-life gowns at the past two editions of the music awards ceremony, made another right-leaning political statement this year.
The musician showed up on the red carpet sporting a black-and-white gown with a brick motif inspired by Pink Floyd's 1979 album The Wall with the words "Build the Wall" hand-painted in red on the back side. The dress — designed by L.A.-based Desi Lee Allinger-Nelson of Desi Designs Couture, Villa told The Hollywood Reporter — also featured barbed wire on the shoulders to mimic the top of a security fence, a spiky headpiece and a silver cloak-like dress over that top that alludes to steel. Her red purse sports the words "Make America Great Again" and was also custom-made by Allinger-Nelson as a riff on the Trump MAGA hat.
"I'm all for stronger border security," says Villa. "Obama and Clinton and Bush talked about that, but President Trump's the first one to promise that he'll get it done. It's pro-America, pro-protection."
"When Trump came in the picture, at first I hated him," Villa told THR. "All my music friends hated him and wanted Bernie. I thought 'Bernie looks good; he seems like a cool dude.' To me, the Republicans weren't cool. And Trump ended up becoming so obnoxious and so in our face. I was living outside of the U.S. and I came back in 2016 and I thought, 'I've got to check this guy out.' If you had asked me, I would have said, 'Yeah, I'm a Democrat' and I was a registered Independent. I was raised conservative, but I became more liberal for a while and I voted for Obama. I was anti-Hillary because what she stands for is against women, in my opinion. But I was very conservative in my heart. I wanted less government and less taxes."
Then Villa started to research and watch Trump's speeches (including an interview he did in 1989 with Oprah) and says that she started to agree with his positions "against better judgment" and decided to vote for him. "I was a secret Trumper for months," she says. "When I decided to wear the Trump dress, I figured that most people would try to ignore me, they'd be so upset. But the rebel in me was like, 'I have to come out and support the president.'"
Last year, Villa wore a provocative pro-life ensemble featuring a graphic image of a fetus. She paired the white Pronovias bridal gown, emblazoned with a red fetus encircled by rainbow hues that Villa hand-painted herself, with a tiara, and her handbag was inscribed with the words "Choose Life." Villa says, "I really wanted to express my personal values again and come out strong and say what I feel and that's that I'm pro-life."
Villa also courted controversy in 2017 when she stepped out in a dress featuring President Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," with "Trump" stamped on the train, designed by Filipino immigrant Andre Soriano, that gained Villa "over 626 million Google searches," she says, also noting that she has received death threats and rape threats on social media.
"I grew up in theater, so I've always used costume as a way to express myself," Villa told THR. "It's an opportunity to show the world who I am on the red carpet, which to me is the same as a stage. I approach it as a show. I want to 'wow' people. My heroes on the red carpet have always been Cher, Madonna, the wild ones; the worst dressed. Or Lady Gaga with the meat dress. Who even talks about the best dressed? No one even remembers who was best-dressed last year!"
Villa went to high school in Santa Barbara and currently has apartments in West Hollywood and New York. Her father, Joseph Villa, was an actor as a child and his parents owned Pla-Boy Liquor in Hollywood in the '70s and '80s; he later became a Christian minister and was an "overt Republican and Reaganite" says Villa.
A vegan, she first attended the Grammys in 2015, where she wore an orange dress made of recycled construction "snow fencing," said Villa, who was then working with her friend Heather Wolf, who helped style her. "People were talking about me for a straight year," said Villa. "The day after the Grammys, they said Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Joy Villa. I was in the headlines with those top-producing, incredible women whom I have been admiring musically. It was insane. It was almost like a fluke. I knew I wanted to make a splash but I had no idea it would be that wild."
In 2016, she wore a "dark skeletal outfit" that synced up with a single she had released called "Empty."
Villa's latest album, Home Sweet Home, was released in January 2018 and includes a single entitled "Make America Great Again."
On Monday, Villa recounted some of the racist responses she had received on Twitter, writing, "The amount of sheer hatred, racism & violent ignorance thrown at me for wearing my support would be heartbreaking if it weren't so over the top hilarious."