THROWBACKS

The 2003 Grammys Fashion Was More Unhinged Than Any Pandemic Trend

by Sarah Ramos

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

What is quarantine about, if not coping with isolation by regressing to a childlike mental state? I’ve personally opted for scream-singing Michelle Branch while vacuuming and recreating scenes from Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. So with the 2021 Grammy Awards fast-approaching, the only way to deal with the awkwardness of potentially seeing Chris Martin perform in his garage again is by mentally traveling to the 2003 Grammys, and reminiscing on some early aughts celebrity style.

You might be wondering, why 2003? When I looked into the archives from exactly 20 years ago, it was clear that not enough attendees took fashion risks on the red carpet, but two years later, they certainly ramped up the ingenuity. It was in 2003 that Norah Jones beat out Ashanti, my girl Michelle, Avril Lavigne and John Mayer—who performed in cargo shorts—for Best New Artist. At that time, Destiny’s only Child who attended the awards was Kelly Rowland, picking up a Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Dilemma” with Nelly. Kim Cattrall was there.

I’m not saying 2003 was actually a better time—it was a period of inequity, especially with regards to red carpet fashion. A legend like Aretha Franklin used fashion to transform herself into a full-blown ice queen on the red carpet while Limp Bizkit rapper Fred Durst got away with throwing on a stained tee shirt, and it would still take 18 years for Mickey Guyton to become the first Black singer nominated for Best Country Solo Performance. But it’s nice to look back on a freaky award show fever dream we could all complain about IRL. In lieu of gathering together in person, please enjoy this collection of the wildest, most influential looks at the 2003 Grammys.

Missy Elliott
Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

Missy Elliott attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Usher
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Usher attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Ashanti
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Ashanti attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Chilli and T-Boz of TLC
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Chilli and T-Boz of TLC attend the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Debbie Harry
Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage

Debbie Harry attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

CeeLo
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

CeeLo of Goodie Mob attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Alicia Keys
Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Alicia Keys during the 45th Annual Grammy Awards BMG after party at Gotham Hall in New York City, New York, United States.

Diana Ross
Photo by L. Busacca/WireImage

Diana Ross during the 45th Annual Grammy Awards BMG after party at Gotham Hall in New York City, New York, United States.

Herbie Hancock and Raphael Saadiq
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Herbie Hancock and Raphael Saadiq attend the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Jamie Lynn Siegler
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Jamie Lynn Siegler attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Avril Lavigne and Kelly Osbourne
Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage

Avril Lavigne and Kelly Osbourne during the 45th Annual Grammy Awards BMG after party at Gotham Hall in New York City, New York, United States.

Pink
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Pink attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Eve
Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

Eve attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Jimmy Fallon
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Jimmy Fallon attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

No Doubt
Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images

Band members of No Doubt pose backstage during the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Naomi Campbell
Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Naomi Campbell attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Cyndi Lauper
Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

Cyndi Lauper attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Tom Arnold and Gabrielle Union
Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

Tom Arnold and Gabrielle Union attend the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Aretha Franklin
Photo by R. Diamond/WireImage

Aretha Franklin backstage during the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Christian Slater and Fred Durst
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage

Christian Slater and Fred Durst attend the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Kylie Minogue
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Kylie Minogue attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

John Mayer
Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

John Mayer attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Foxy Brown
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Foxy Brown attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Kelly Rowland
Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images

Kelly Rowland in the pressroom at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Sheryl Crow
Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage

Sheryl Crow attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Avril Lavigne
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Avril Lavigne attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Bootsy Collins
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Bootsy Collins attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Eartha
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Eartha attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Bowling for Soup
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Bowling for Soup attend the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

Celia Cruz
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Celia Cruz attends the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.

The Dixie Chicks
Photo by Evan Agostini /Getty Images

The Dixie Chicks backstage during the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at the Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2003 in New York City.