It’s the outfits we’re really watching it for, right? The fashion of Eurovision is a major drawcard for the millions of people tuning in to this flamboyant extravaganza. And when it comes to costume choices for the contestants, more is definitely more.
The approach taken varies between countries as they try to find the right balance between supporting the artist and not distracting from the song. Although, sometimes the clothing choice is an intentional distraction from the song - Eurovision is a wonderful singing competition of contradictions.
We asked personal stylist Gemma Williams, founder of Dress Your Best, to break down the unforgettable looks of Eurovision.
“Eurovision is the place to push the fashion boundaries,” Gemma says. “Anything and everything goes. The most entertaining acts are usually the ones with the wackiest ensembles. It might not always win them points with the judges, but it’s one of the reasons we watch. Often, we remember the clothing more than the music.”
Verka Serduchka, Ukraine, 2007
Gemma says: “Dolce & Gabbana designed this futuristic silver and sequin outfit for drag queen Serduchka. Eurovision is a party, so D&G brought the glam with this disco ball-inspired look.
Eric Papilaya, Austria, 2007
Gemma says: “Silver was popular in 2007, and it’s another outfit from a major designer: Vivienne Westwood. I love that these big-name designers aren’t too cool for Eurovision. Papilaya sang about the AIDS epidemic but they went a little over the top with dancing blood cells that form an AIDS ribbon. The mirror ball hoodie and combat pants combo emphasised the fight highlighted in the song - with a little Eurovision sparkle.”
Lordi, Finland, 2006
Gemma says: “No sequins here. Lordi, who sang ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah,’ decked themselves out in demon costumes to win Eurovision. A great example of the outfits complementing the music. A nice break from the glitter bombs of the competition but still just as much fun. These guys totally owned their monstrous looks.”
Pirates of the Sea, Latvia, 2008
Gemma says: “Ahoy, Latvia! I do appreciate nautical inspired outfits, but they look like they’re on their way to a children's birthday party. The one-armed pirate jacket deserves a special mention.”
Celine Dion, Switzerland, 1988
Gemma says: “The fashion at Eurovision wasn't always insane. Sometimes it properly mimicked style trends of the time. Dion wore a double-breasted white blazer, which was a wardrobe staple for many at the time, and she looked amazing.”
Jedward, Ireland, 2012
Gemma says: “Jedward, the identical twin act, rocked matching Elvis-meets-robot outfits for their performance. Sadly, this doesn’t evoke the spirit of the King. The look is more like sci-fi court jesters.”
Conchita Wurst, Austria, 2014
Gemma says: “All hail Conchita Wurst. She’s a total style queen, proving that sometimes the more refined, quieter fashion choices outshine all other custom craziness. This is one of my favourite Eurovision looks ever. Fabulous but not tacky. She favoured form-fitting frocks throughout the competition - and this gold number, which she wore during the grand final performance of ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’, perfectly complemented her style, sass and, of course, that epic song."
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend - Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30pm on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5am on SBS.