You know, there’s a very good reason the NAACP Image Awards ceremony takes place in late February—and it’s not simply because it’s Black History Month. It’s because, after far too many awards seasons in which we are only marginally included—including this past one—at the Image Awards, we get the last word, as excellence is recognized by our own, from within our own rank. And there’s a bonus: If you happen to be red carpet watchers like us here at The Glow Up, we also get last looks of the seemingly nonstop series of red carpets and runways we’ve been following since the start of the new year.
In fact, the NAACP Image Awards are so full of black excellence that we’re given us two days’ worth of black beauty to gaze upon, beginning with the non-televised awards dinner on Friday night. While the first of the weekend’s awards were handed out (by the armful, in the case of multiple winners like Hollywood prodigy Marsai Martin, below), we fashion watchers got a warm-up, if you will, for Saturday’s main event.
The next night, it was time to ratchet up the glamour—and get a glimpse of what fashion will have in store for us non-celebs this spring and summer, as many of the night’s looks were pulled straight from recent runways. While snow is still on the ground in many cities and Memorial Day still months away (if you’re still playing by that outdated fashion rule), a huge theme for the weekend was white, as some of our most stylish celebs stepped out in the melanin-showcasing hue. (And again, we must shout out Marsai Martin, who is not only growing up before our eyes but clearly has a very strong eye for style.)
But as evidenced by undoubtedly our most jam-packed red-carpet slideshow of the year, there were plenty of other trends to keep an eye on. As stars arrived on Saturday night’s red carpet, we saw pastel hues of ice blue, mint green, and rose; black-and-white pattern play; and doses of whimsy in full effect. In fact, all of the above converged in the custom print designer Mary Katrantzou created for Entertainer of the Year Lizzo’s shimmering, body-skimming gown, which not only played with optical illusion but incorporated the Image Award-winner’s logo.
Other showstoppers included Janelle Monáe, who wowed in a color-blocked, cutout gown by Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing. Yara Shahidi was grown-ish and gorgeous in a heavily-embellished Gucci minidress (with mom Keri in a complementary green pantsuit; another big color for the night). And of course, there was Rihanna (leading our slideshow below), who looked like the “reb’l fleur” she is as she accepted her NAACP President’s Award in royal purple pleated ruffles by Givenchy Couture.
We also can’t go without mentioning the adorable little Parker Curry, resplendent in Pantora Mini. The 4-year-old joined fellow bestselling author and nominee (and now, Oscar winner for Hair Love) Matthew A. Cherry on her second NAACP Image Awards red carpet to celebrate her nod for Parker Looks Up, a children’s book inspired by her viral moment with Michelle Obama’s portrait.
For those who considered the Oscars the end of awards season, the 51st NAACP Awards was a fashionable reminder that we’re out here doing big things, too...and we always do it in style. Get into the night’s glamour with our slideshow below.