Nostalgics have complained that fireworks and acrobatic moves are ruining the Eurovision Song Contest. They say it has turned it into a Eurovision Show Contest.
However, even a leap into the past will unveil that the Eurovision Song Contest has long been more than solely a singing competition. Where possible past participants have used more than their voices to draw attention to themselves. Eccentric fashion highlights from specific decades, for example, were being put in place to get the extra notice. And these futuristic Haute Couture creations existed long before Jean Paul Gaultier.
11 kg extra weight to win the contest
Even though there seem to be no boundaries to stage outfits, it seems that fashion designers can’t get away with everything at the Eurovision Song Contest. One outfit from 1969, for example, did result in what we now call a ‘shitstorm’.It was a jumpsuit worn by the Spanish Singer Salomé , who was one of four winners that year with her song “Vivo Cantando”.
The Spanish Couturier Manuel Pertegaz had tailored a turquoise blue robe for Salomé that was made up of fringe and porcelain tubes. With every move the hot-tempered woman made, her 11 kg jumpsuit swung along. In addition to her jumpsuit, the singer also wore a white necklace that weighed 3 kilos. Manuel Pertegaz who was an executive designer for Dior has previously created fashion pieces for celebrities, such as Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn.
Prior to winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxemburg with his song “Nous les amoureux”, Jean-Claude Pascal had also worked for Dior as a fashion designer.
It remains unknown whether his 1961 appearance on stage in Cannes in an elegant costume was a creation by Dior or not. Dior however did design the black and white costumes for Baccara in 1978, when the Spanish duo ironically sang “Parlez-vous francais?” in Luxembourg and came in 7th.
Each of the dresses is said to have cost 4700 euros.
1400 euros was the price tag on Gigliola Cinquetti’s flouncy blue dress, in which she scored second in 1974 in Italy. You would have to think twice before saying “Si” and purchasing such a dress by Valentino.
Gaultier, once again
Star designer Jean Paul Gaultier and the Eurovision Song Contest have had a special relationship for decades. One robe, or moreover costume none of us will ever forget is the feathery evening dress Dana International wore in Birmingham in 1998. To celebrate her victory with her song “Diva” she slipped into Jean Paul Gaultier’s costume – which she hadn’t worn on stage previously – to sing the winning song again .
Prior to this, the prince of Haute Couture, displayed one of his creations in Rome in 1991, when Amina - dressed in a black overall with an orange sash- sang “Le dernier qui a parlé” for her home country France. She lost the competition by a fraction, but her outfit remains memorable.
Another classic Gaultier outfit was the black evening gown for Elisabeth Andreassen . Representing her home country Norway, she wore it in 1996 in the Oslo ESC when she sung “I evighet”.
As his relationship with the Eurovision Song Contest flourished, so did his confidence in designing colorful outfits. On the Helsinki stage in 2007 Les Fatals Picards could be seen wearing bright pink costumes. Although the group poured all their love into their song “L’amour à la francaise” they were voted second last.
As the Spanish singer Lydia proved in Jerusalem in 1999, not every Haute Couture dress looks good on stage. Her rainbow dress did not only make the singer look disastrous, but her song “No quiero escuchar” ranked last by far. Her entire performance ended up being the nightmare of the evening.
The fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada was awarded the Barbara-Dex-Award for this misery. Since 1997 this dubious privilege is given to especially appalling outfits. It dates back to 1993, when the Belgian Barbara Dex sabotaged her chances of victory for the song “Iemand als jij” by choosing to wear a see-through, crème colored net lace disaster.