In 2020, awards shows may not look like they used to, but damn if we Black folk aren’t skilled at making even the worst year of our lifetimes (thus far—ugh) look remarkably good (as a people, we’ve unfortunately had centuries of practice). As evidence, look no further than the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards, which on Sunday continued this year’s run of virtual awards shows. While the seats at Barker Hangar may have been empty, the show did indeed go on, and gave us a few—okay, very few—style moments that bear a little extra applause.
Because the People’s Choice Awards are, well, for people, the breadth of categories extends beyond the typical Best Actor/Actress milieu into more specific awards like “Best Comedy Act” and “Style Star”—which of course, is where we come in.
Zendaya can now add the Style Star award next to her history-making 2020 Emmy, but the young star didn’t take part in last night’s festivities. Instead, the night belonged to Fashion Icon of 2020 honoree Tracee Ellis Ross—no big surprise to us—but the former model and fashion editor-turned Golden Globe and NAACP Image Award-winning actress made sure to remind us where she gets it from: Her mama, Diana Ross, of course.
“I have to thank the icon herself, my mom, not only for her great parenting,” Ross said in her acceptance speech, reminiscing about “the magic” her legendary mother embodied onstage, “but to her style and glamour that introduced me to the power of fashion.
We’ve yet to get the details on Ross’ two trousered outfits for the awards ceremony, but in honor of the occasion, she treated fans and followers to a retrospective of her lifelong love of fashion (including her modeling years), via an Instagram Story.
Another standout on Sunday night? Female Movie Star winner Tiffany Haddish, who has clearly been feeling extra-liberated since shearing her hair this summer. We didn’t think she could get sexier than her Halloween homage to model Pat Evan’s Ohio Players album cover, but her slit-to-there floral frock by Prabal Gurung made it clear that “she ready” to show off more than her comedic chops.
But perhaps the most impactful outfit of the night was worn by Best Comedy Act winner Leslie Jones, who accepted her honor in a statement-making black-on-black custom pantsuit by longtime collaborator Christian Siriano that was no laughing matter.
“Her printed suit has the names of lost lives and this is our tribute to them,” wrote the luxury label—and indeed, while subtle, Jones’ suit bore the names of Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, and too many other Black lives lost to senseless, police-sanctioned violence.
“I really never take the time to say ‘I’m proud of myself’ cause I’m always like ‘what’s next’ but tonight I’m proud y’all!!” Jones captioned an Instagram post in celebration of her win. “Cause the people picked me!! THATS FUCKING MAJOR!! I love my fans you are EVERYTHING!! Thank You!!”
We’re proud of you too, Ms. Jones. Thank you.
Updated: Monday, 11/16/20 at 10:17 p.m., ET: As confirmed by Ms. Ross’ Instagram, she accepted her Fashion Icon award in a billowing white shirtdress, black leather harness and over-the-knee boots by Alexander McQueen, while the double-breasted, brass-buttoned khaki trouser suit she wore on the red carpet was by Schiaparelli.