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At the BET Awards, Putting Black Designers in the Spotlight

  • June 29, 2020

It wasn’t your usual awards show red carpet. There wasn’t, after all, a red carpet. Instead there were nominees and performers and presenters beamed in from their living rooms or movie-magicked sets.

But at the 20th annual BET Awards on Sunday night — for the first time since Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, and gatherings went virtual and most such events, from the Met Gala to the Cannes Film Festival, were canceled — the people involved (including the host Amanda Seales, against a green screen in her home, Lizzo, Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé) dressed up for public consumption.

And it was excellent to see.

Not all that long ago, awards shows and pay-to-wear deals had seemed ubiquitous; the celebs like walking high-fashion ads. Then recent televised charity concerts featured artists in their homes wearing T-shirts and sweats to prove they are Just Like Us and suffer the same alienation and disassociation of lockdown. In contrast, the BET Awards may mark the start of a new stage: one in which fashion returns not as marketing tool, but as a statement of personal intent.

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