Songs from the '80s and '90s were on the "American Idol" play-list March 16 as contestants performed music from their birth year, but their fashions weren't stuck in a retro rut.
Ladies' costume designer Soyon An tells StyleList she avoided the temptation to channel the era.
To that end, she even coaxed Haley Reinhart out of her request to wear an off-the-shoulder blouse with her black pencil pants and stilettos to sing a Whitney Houston anthem. "I didn't want it to look like an '80s throwback. My goal is always just to have them look good."
Here is An's exclusive take on the rest of the female contestants' looks:
Lauren Alaina: Alaina's bad flu had An styling the teen in a room full of doctors, the singer's mom and managers. The designer was committed to giving Alaina more style edge to sing Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One." Jeans tucked into suede-fringed boots with a coordinating jacket and detailed buckle belt were a departure from the "big tutu skirts and sparkles" Alaina favored during "Idol" tryouts. "You might see Lauren in a cute dress again, but in her new, more stylish way," An predicts. Meanwhile, An is mega-dosing on Tami-flu and her assistant's out sick.
Karen Rodriguez: Her sexy, black and sliver-hued minidress by Shunck and Rosenfeld paired with with over-the-knee boots by Chinese Laundry was An's shining example of hi-low dressing. The dress retails for $495, while the boots are approximately $149.
Pia Toscano: Wore a white, silky CZ Falconer jumpsuit and Bonnie Star pendant to sing Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go." An thought the "sexy, yet angelic" look was spot-on for her performance inspired by Toscano's late grandfather. While the jumpsuit had an 80s vibe, An says the look was more about showing Toscano's fashion range. "I don't just want to put her in dresses all the time."
Thia Megia: The 15-year-old asked for a "Pocahontas" dress to sing "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney movie about the American Indian princess. An suggested a more sophisticated approach. Megia's khaki-hued floor-length Zara dress had an earthy texture, but didn't look too costume. A butterfly bracelet by Lenore Dame and a few feathers in her hair were more subtle nods to the Native American theme. Victoria's Secret shapewear and Spanx leggings were used to keep the form-fitting dress looking flawless center-stage.
Naima Adedapo: The colorful style she brought to her rendering of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It" had a lot to do with accessories. "She has the figure, face and personality to pull of a lot of things," says An. Adedapo's jingle-jangle pants were by Alexis, her jeweled, low-slung belt was from the Los Angeles tribal boutique, "Maya."
Meanwhile, get the scoop on judge Jennifer Lopez and her latest fashion endorsement.