The BET Awards on Sunday night boasted many Prince tributes, from Tori Kelly's purple pants to emblems of the Purple One's "love symbol" emblazoned on the stage's curtains. But no one rocked the tribute game quite like one of his most recent, and closest, proteges, Janelle Monae. Billboard spoke exclusively with Monae's stylist, Maeve Reilly, about the direct inspiration behind the singer's showstopping lace two-piece, and she told us the secrets of how the designer, Sergio Hudson, made it all come alive.
Prince & Janelle Monáe
"When we found this image of him in the white sleeveless shirt, vest and pants with that tail, we knew that was where we wanted to go," Reilly told Billboard. "We didn't want to overshadow her ability to dance and move around, so we decided on a crop top and pants (as opposed to the jumpsuit) because that's very much Janelle's style and because we could re-create the ones Prince had worn in the 'Kiss' video. We gave her that removable back piece (an exact replica of something he had worn) because we knew we wanted to show the booty at the end like he did at the MTV Awards."
"This was a beautiful reference from ...
"This was a beautiful reference from when Prince wore that iconic hood at the Academy Awards. We decided not to go with purple because we wanted to keep the color palette all white since she wears black, white and red. The hood didn't stay on the whole time like we would've liked, but whatever, she looked beautiful and the performance was amazing."
Prince & Janelle Monáe
"Ahh these pants. They were constructed from this handmade beaded lace with no stretch, so we had to add stretch paneling through the inner-thigh and at the crotch so she could dance," said Reilly. "We added the sheer mesh panel in the butt instead of her bare skin to keep the pants from physically ripping apart. We completely destroyed the original pants in rehearsal, so Sergio [the designer] created two identical pairs and she wore the second ones. I couldn't even tell you how many fittings we did. I would guess upwards of 15 in the last two weeks."
Louis Wells, Prince's designer during...
Louis Wells, Prince's designer during the "Purple Rain" years and creator of the yellow chaps and lace jumpsuit, loved the look. "Janelle Monae looked fantastic," he told Billboard exclusively. "She certainly captured the essence of Prince's white lace outfit by showing her naked butt and wearing the fur boa on the cape. Prince would've thought she was sexy, but not sexier than him. LOL."
"Sergio [Hudson] designed and constru...
"Sergio [Hudson] designed and constructed the entire look, and he was a wonderful fit for us because he's also a huge Prince fan," Reilly said. "Prince was not only Janelle's mentor, but one of her best friends. It was really important for her to represent the different eras of his life, career and wardrobe in the right way, and I know we did that with this outfit and I know she definitely did him proud with that performance. I think he is smiling down on her."