As soon as this year’s Billboard Women in Music Best New Artist recipient saw the gown, she knew it was the one. “It’s feminine and kind of girly, but the bodysuit makes it edgy,” Ballerini tells Billboard exclusively. “We like to keep growing up my fashion as I grow up, so this is a bit sexier since the fabric is sheer and you see the corset-y bodysuit underneath.”
Ballerini also loved the delicate aqua floral motif accenting the gown as a nod to her Southern roots. “The blue flowers against the neutral color really felt like the South,” she says. “Being from Nashville, and being a Country artist at the Grammy’s, that’s important to me.”
Stylist Krista Roser wanted to show how Ballerini has grown up so much in the last year — one that has been so significant professionally and personally. “It’s a little different than what we’ve done before, but not so different than it doesn’t feel like her,” Roser says. “It’s still romantic, but it is flirtier than we’ve done on a carpet before. You can push the boundaries at the Grammys, and this is what that is for us.”
Roser also wanted to find something that would subtly show off some skin while still being age appropriate for the 23-year-old singer. “The sheer fabric and the fitted bodysuit underneath show off her legs, which are fantastic,” she says. “And I picked nude, suede Stuart Weitzman platform sandals the same color as her skin tone to give as much as length as possible — it’s all about the legs.”
Well, legs and Ballerini’s newest statement accessory: a cushion-cut diamond engagement ring from her fiancé, Australian country singer Morgan Evans. “That’s the main piece of jewelry from now on,” Ballerini says. “And it looks really good with the dress. It was sparkling extra hard when I put this dress on!”
Roser took the new ring into consideration and pulled more delicate pieces to keep the focus on her left ring finger. “The dress is such a showstopper, so I kept the accessories minimal,” she says. “And Morgan did such a good job picking out that ring for Kelsea that it needed its own moment, too.”
Makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan turned to the gown for inspiration on her overall makeup look. “I wanted Kelsea to step out of her comfort zone since she’s used to having a smoky eye,” she says. “Since the dress is so light, I did a pop of color on the lip so it didn’t feel too sweet or romantic and kept the eyes soft.” Deenihan used all of Ballerini’s favorite products to give her a dewy complexion. Some of her must-haves? La Mer Moisturizing Gel Cream to stay really hydrated, Mark Touch and Glow Shimmer Cream Cubes All Over Face Palette because “Kelsea loves a strong highlight,” and the new NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Ginger. “Kelsea just stole [the NARS concealer] from me,” the makeup artist says. “I have to buy a new one!” For her lips, Deenihan swiped on Charlotte Tilbury’s Hot Lips matte lipstick in Secret Salmamixed with Nude Kate.
Deenihan strategically chose a softer look to start so that she can build on it later for Ballerini’s performance during the show. “We like having a contrast from carpet and performance for people to see two different sides of me,” Ballerini says. “The carpet was a fresher, more natural look, and it’ll be smoky and bold for the performance.”