For Beyoncé, an Unexpected Performance in an Unexpected Look

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For Beyoncé, an Unexpected Performance in an Unexpected Look

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Beyoncé, an artist known for dominating R&B and pop charts, performed at the Country Music Awards in Nashville on Wednesday, causing a few of the genre’s fans to scratch their heads and all of her fans to go into the usual paroxysms of delight.

It was not just because of the much-discussed performance of her song “Daddy Lessons” with the Dixie Chicks, but also because of her appearance in yet another of what is fast becoming her signature look: quasi-naked, highly beaded and very diva on the half-shell.

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But this time, it came with a twist (possibly to reflect the twist of her showing up at the C.M.A.’s).

Namely that both her arrival gown (a clinging, lacy Zuhair Murad dress covered in silver, bronze and periwinkle beaded flowers with a short train and exaggerated puffed sleeves) and the dress she wore onstage (a semitransparent, beaded, cream gown with a low-cut front and an even lower-cut back) dipped into two fashion elements that dominated the runways this fall: big shoulders, and their cousin, ‘80s silhouettes.

Not everyone loved those two trends when they made their catwalk debuts (“There’s a reason those 1980s pieces ended up in resale shops as opposed to preserved for posterity,” Vanessa Friedman, The Times fashion critic, wrote of the look as interpreted by Anthony Vaccarello at Yves Saint Laurent). But doubts that they weren’t going to take off when the clothes hit stores were pretty much put to rest with the Beyoncé nod.

In the end, the performance demonstrated her power to dominate pretty much any musical genre (“Think Beyoncé ‘Doesn’t Belong at the CMAs’? Then You Don’t Know Country,” The Washington Post wrote; “Show-stopping,” Billboard declared; “brought the house down,” The Huffington Post said). But it also may have bestowed a halo of coming must-have status on pretty much any style item as well.

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