Before we start I should probably tell you I am not a parent, I’ve never had to do the ‘you’re not going out wearing that’ routine with anyone. As a teenager myself I was all ‘long black skirt goth’, so my parents never really had to have that conversation with me either.
One of the first things that everyone notices about an artist on a stage is what they are wearing, in fact it’s the first thing interaction we have with the artist as there is just tiny moment of visual before the song starts, so you just have to get it right. A great outfit enhances a performance, but a bad style choice can jeopardise the final results as the lasting impression is ‘what on earth was he/she wearing?’, not the quality of the song.
At Junior Eurovision there are three age stages within the mix of young people performing. The young singers, absolutely still children (ten year olds compared to fourteen year olds) are simply not going to be comparable; so in this year’s group of artists I am going to break it down to the age groups and look at the style choices of the youngsters, the pre-teens and the teenagers. Here’s what I think of this year’s style choices…
Getting it right…
Lidia from Bulgaria is one of our younger competitors, and the dress she is wearing really suits her. It’s white with a soft pastel watercolour detail on the hem. The song determines it should be light in colour, a bold pattern or colour would not be suited here. Lidia is completely charming and has a smile that will light up you screen when you watch her, so keeping the dress fairly simple allows her beautiful face to shine through, you are definitely not distracted by the outfit, the song ‘Valbeshen Den’ or ‘Magical Day’ is the start of the show, and Lidia performs in a dress that enhances and compliments both her and her song.
Also winning out in the charm stakes is Klesta from Albania. I was a little wary of what she might be wearing as in the run up we’ve seen her in some ‘interesting’ headbands and I did wonder if she would end up with an oversized flower stuck on the side of her head, but no, it seems not. Klesta wears a simple white dress (there are quite a few white dresses, they look great on camera) I think this is more of a ivory dress which compliments Klesta’s skin tone and dark hair much better than a stark white. It’s soft and simple again, just like Lidia’s, totally age appropriate and styled well.
Missing the Mark
Now don’t get me wrong, Georgia has a wonderful song and having seen her performance at the jury final yesterday I was completely blown away with it, however the dress she is wearing is just not quite right. I think it’s a little bit too short and there are some lower camera angles that make it look even shorter. If that were my only concern for it, then it wouldn’t be in the ‘missing the mark’ category, however the detailing on the back looks, well, a little bit odd to me. It has flowers sewn onto wired satin which then stand proud of the already starched A line skirt, fortunately this is round the back so it doesn’t stand out too well. If this wins it might shoot my theory in the foot of having to getting the right outfit. My justification will be that the slightly odd bit is round the back so it doesn’t really stand out on the screen. It’s not by any means a disaster, but for me it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Getting it right…
If you are looking for style and sass then look no further than Martija from Macedonia. She is totally owning her look in a body-con rose gold jumpsuit embellished with beading and crystals. There has been much talk of this being too much: too mature or too tight, but for me it’s not any of those things. You have to be confident in your own skin to wear it, that’s for sure, however if there’s one thing we know about Martija it’s that she completely is. Whilst it’s a fitted jumpsuit, it’s not too tight, it has a bit of wiggle room in it and although it shows off the shape of her body, it’s no where near the mark on that score. The beading and crystal embellishment as far as I am concerned is fabulous (but there can never be too much sparkle in my world, see also Strictly Come Dancing!).
The colour too really suits Martija’s soft olive skin and dad hair and rose gold is so on-trend right now, when it comes to finding an outfit that compliments the singer, the song and the staging, you have to look at this as your point of reference.
Israel’s approach to the styling is very different yet works so beautifully and subtly on stage that it gets it right in a different way. Styling a duet is always a challenge, especially if it’s a boy/girl combination which we have here. Both look age appropriate, yet fashion forward. The colour story in the whole presentation of this song is really pleasing. Predominantly neutral, both singers wearing black and white, with little hints of red. Shir has a red flower on the waist sash of her dress, Tim has red shoes and a red trim on his shirt. This could get lost except for the very clever lighting effect that gives little points of red light all around the stage which enhance the red on the singers outfits. For all Macedonia’s sparkly bold statement, Israel get it right in an understated way.
Also getting it right here we have Belarus who are in street fashion complete with hoverboards, and Australia with a funky long sleeve sparkly blue playsuit.
Missing the mark…
To be fair to the Netherlands, their song is a complete throwback, and the outfits are too, however there are some things that belong in the Eighties and should remain there. The three girls are wearing what can only be described as graffiti. I would argue that this is a case of dressing down the age range, perhaps these dresses and jumpsuit would look nicer on younger children, but I’m not sure they work for these girls. The clear statement written across the chest on all of them is ‘Everything Is On Fleek’ which is at best a bit cheesy, and at worst, just annoying. There is a disjoint in the look too, two girls are in dresses, but one is black background and one is white background, the other girl is in a jumpsuit with a black background to all the text. It’s confused and confusing – I would say if you’re going to make a big statement with neon graffiti letter, there have to be some consistency in what the outfits are, in this case it think either all black or white or all dress or jumpsuit, as it is there are too many variables and I think it ends up looking a bit messy.
Also missing the mark here are Malta with a wintery outfit for a summery song, Italy for being, well, totally underwhelming in jeans and sports jacket for a song that asks for more, and Serbia with a sparkly jacket that has the feel of an enthusiastic but homemade feel to it. I think my mum made me something similar for a school play once!
Getting it right…
Zena from Ireland is probably the most ‘out there’ of this year’s group and her style has not gone unnoticed. Of course the thing to remember is that the ’90’s is so on-trend at the moment, especially in the 14-20 age bracket, so Zena’s glam grunge look is totally of the moment. Her self-designed, powder blue, multi layered, multi fabrics A’line dress, combined with matching blue boots is a style statement all of its own, combined with Zena’s long red hair and sparkly eyes, I really like the individuality of look. taffeta skater style dresses with DM boots is a style that most of us have gone for at some stage in out lives. I think the generation after generation discovering the ‘dress/boot combo’ is keeping Dr Martin boots in business. My one criticism is really the colour – we’ve seen Zena in some lovely ‘Irish’ green dresses in rehearsal and on the red carpet, but in choosing the this pale blue, it makes it just a bit less Irish. But with that said, I do still love her alternative look.
Ukraine’s Sofia Rol wears a beautiful winter white dress, with a lace bodice and long flowing chiffon skirt which falls completely to the floor, the colour suits her and the style is just right for her, it’s not too ‘adult’, but it’s certainly not childlike either, it works great on the stage with enough visual impact to notice, but subtle enough to not distract from the song, my only wish is for a tiny hint of a wind machine to give the soft fabric of the skirt a little movement.
Also getting it right are Cyprus with George and his team in a more grown up version of Belarus’ street style; exactly what the song demands.
Missing the mark…
Olivia from Poland is an interesting choice that stands out to me unfortunately for the wrong reason. You see that dress works if you are 8 or 25, but not really for a 14 year old. Let me explain… With a shorter hem, it’s a lovely little party dress for a girl, fitted bodice and then a puffy skirt, probably worn with sparkly shoes. It has ‘Disney princess’ written all over it. Floor length hem and with a more ornate and fitted corset style top, and you’ve basically got the dress that Zoe from Austria (ESC2016) wore on the red carpet, and looked totally gorgeous in, however this hem line is neither one thing or the other, the puffy feather-effect skirt need to be allowed to stand in a wider A-line or fall completely to the floor. As it is, it stands it’s a bit like an upturned tulip which cuts the beautiful Olivia in half at the wrong level of her body.
Also missing the mark though only narrowly are Russia with some blue and orange dresses topped off with tiaras that are just at odds to the rest of the outfits, they are too big and unfortunately leave you with the memory of ‘dodgy tiaras’ and not ‘great song’. Armenia also end up in this category, whilst they do just about manage to get away with the quick-change on stage, there is something lacking in what they start out in and what they finish in, for me I think it’s too young for them and just a bit underwhelming.
Of course fashion, like music, is a bit subjective and cultural variations have to be taken into account here too. What one person likes another person doesn’t, if you’re like me a fan of Gaultier, Westood and Tom Rebl you’ll appreciate the more ‘out there looks’ if you’re more into Prada, Gucci and Tom Ford you’re probably going to disagree with some of my choices although I’ve tried to see them through the eyes of the camera lens and as a part of the overall presentation of the song, rather than as fashion in their own name.
Culturally speaking there are differences too, what is deemed ‘too much’ in one country may be seen as completely acceptable somewhere else. Styling a delegation whether at Junior or Adult Eurovision is a challenge with many factors to take into account, probably the saving grace of Junior Eurovision is there is no Barbara Dex award looming in the corner!