Taraji P. Henson’s BET Awards wardrobe was a stunning tribute to Black Excellence
Fashion at the BET Awards is brave. Black Excellence’s annual celebration is all about boisterous style and last night’s show was no exception. There was no shortage of statement fashion between Lil Nas X enjoying Richard Quinn’s new collection, Cardi B announcing her pregnancy in a jeweled Dolce & Gabbana catsuit, and Naomi Campbell stunning the crowd in golden ruffles Gucci . Still, no one embodied the outré atmosphere of the evening better than hostess Taraji P. Henson.
The actress was the presenter of the evening and her most versatile fashion star. With multiple outfit changes, hairstyles, and beauty looks, Henson kept the party going, paying tribute to the black Hollywood icons who inspired them. For Henson, the carefully crafted homages to women like Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Esther Jones, the Vaudevilian who inspired Betty Boop, tied in with the theme of the night and her own experiences as a performer. “This year’s theme is’ Year of the Black Woman, and it just feels right and about time!” She shared via email. “I’ve been to so many of the previous shows and now I’m the host – it felt like we were coming full circle.”
To reflect this spirit, Henson and her stylist Jason Bolden looked for role models in the industry. “We got involved. It all has to do with a black woman who Taraji is inspired by or looks up to, ”Bolden explained. “From Erykah Badu, Tina Turner and Diana Ross to these incredibly powerful and strong corporate women she knows.” Every celebrity was represented by a catwalk piece that seemed to be pulled out of their closet. Ross was a glittery cloak by Greta Constantine worn over a matching catsuit, a nod to the gold lamé ensemble she wore to the 1986 Super Bowl halftime show. Henson channeled Turner in a choppy blonde wig and gold sequin mini dress, matching the gilded Azzedine Alaïa creations the star wore in the ’80s and’ 90s. Even future legends got a fashion shoutout – Henson transformed into plum dundas to make her best impression on stage. Henson credits Bolden and her glam team for the success of these setbacks. “It’s all Jason, he’s amazing, and I trust him completely,” she says. “We have been working together for so long; he knows exactly what I like and what I don’t and is simply always the best partner for big moments like these. “
The clothes were on point, but the full transformations would not have been possible without Henson’s beauty experts. With hairstylist Tym Wallace using products from her TPH from the Taraji hair care range, makeup artist Saisha Beecham creating a range of accurate looks, and manicurist Temeka Jackson creating custom gold-tipped nails for the occasion, each one shone Detail. “I trust my glam team, let it play and just have fun,” says Henson. “You are the experts. I did some hair prep with my hair care line, but other than that, I just let my team do their thing and I think they crushed it. “
Thanks to Henson’s homage, Zendaya bringing back Beyoncé outfits from the aughts era, and Queen Latifah’s Lifetime Achievement Award, reminiscent of decades of hip-hop fashion, the 2021 BET Awards paid homage to the past. Still, the night wasn’t just a review. When hostess Henson set the tone, she kept her red carpet style in a dress from Atelier Versace’s Spring / Summer 2020 collection. “She wanted to be all her fabulous self, and this incredible Versace was pure Taraji,” says Bolden. “She said, ‘I’m a woman of a certain age, I love where I am, I love who I am, and I’m not afraid to indulge in what makes me happy.” She is such a ball of laughter and joy, someone who doesn’t dress for others but really thinks about how the clothes feel. When we tried the sample and it was immediately closed, we just knew that it should be. “
The meaning of the night went beyond clothing. “I just felt [so] honored, ”says Henson. “It’s culture’s biggest night and I wanted everyone to have fun and celebrate. I was so excited that everyone at home could watch and that there was a real live audience. We had a few surprises up our sleeves; It was definitely an unforgettable night. ”