From the pop star’s extremely bouffant hair to the five sequined outfits she wore, Miley’s look was a nod to her famous godmother.
Miley Cyrus has never been known for her withdrawn appearance. This is a artist who likes to make a statement – and the Wrecking Ball singer did just that earlier this week, wearing five different outfits at the 2024 Grammys. The daring looks I have people talking: They were covered in sequins, beads and even feather shawls. And then there was Cyrus’s hair, which was up to the sky.
If this aesthetic sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly the playbook of Cyrus’ godmother, Dolly Parton, a Winner of 11 Grammy Awards herself and, according to many, the “the most beloved celebrity in the world.”
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Parton became close to Cyrus’ father, Billy Ray Cyrus, when they toured together in the early 1990s, “because he’s a guy from Kentucky (and) I’m from Tennessee,” Parton said in The Howard Stern Show on SiriusXM last year. “And he said… We’re going to have a girl and you have to be his godmother!” And I said, ‘Well, it would be my honor.’ So really, Miley and I took control from there. “We stayed very, very close over the years.”
That closeness is evident in their musical collaborations, as well as in Cyrus’ Grammys fashion. In fact, two of the outfits Cyrus wore that night were vintage designs by Bob Mackie, who has been creating stage looks for Dolly Parton since 1979 (along with other entertainment icons like Marilyn Monroe, Cher, and Diana Ross).
At this year’s ceremony, Cyrus was nominated for six awards and took home two: record of the year for Flowers, as well as best pop solo performance. It is the first time that the singer has won a Grammy. Reflecting on her victories in instagram, The Tennessee-born artist tagged her godmother and told her, “I felt your pixie dust all over me (I put a little more in my hair, can you tell?).”
Dolly Parton has long been the poster girl of country music and known for her standout style. Last year she published a book about her fashion choices, which she described in an interview with the Guardian newspaper how I miss”.
She said: “I’ve worn some of the strangest things; my hairstyles have always been so extravagant. The moment you think you look good, then you remember and think, what was I thinking?”
As is to be expected with eye-catching looks, the internet reacted to Cyrus’ style, particularly focusing on her hair. Not everyone understood it – some even He said it looked like she had been electrocuted.
Others loved it, including western fashion and lifestyle content creator. Yesterday’s hamwhich immediately captured the country’s reference.
“A common saying among southern women is ‘Tease it to Jesus’, where you comb your hair as high as you can,” Ham tells BBC Culture. “Miley’s voluptuous hair instantly reminded me of that.”
Ham explains that you wouldn’t see that hairstyle in cities like New York or Los Angeles, but if you walk south toward Dallas, Houston or Nashville, it’s more common. “It tends to be an older demographic that’s rocking it, but with Miley bringing it back at the Grammys, I can see those high curls coming back,” he says.
Although Miley Cyrus’ recent music wouldn’t necessarily be defined as country, she has collaborated with her godmother, most recently on a re-recording of Wrecking ball. Ham says collaborations like these are sparking global interest in cowboy culture.
“Right now, Western fashion is becoming mainstream,” he says. “My friend runs a Western fashion store in Fort Worth, Texas, and describes people as ‘cowboy-curious.’ When major artists are inspired by cowboy culture, like long hair and glamour, or even “Beyoncé wearing a cowboy hat at the Grammys shows that cowboy culture is taking over the main stage.”
ashley jackson is a Western fashion journalist living in Idaho. She teaches people about Western traditions, from fashion to culture, and agrees with Ham that cowboys are having their moment. For Jackson, Cyrus’ appearance is not only a nod to her godmother, but also to her own heritage.
“She thanked her family and Dolly in her speeches, as well as her Instagram post, and she also did it with her outfit,” Jackson tells BBC Culture. “This is Miley saying, ‘Hey, I’m rooted in Western culture and it doesn’t have to be defined by a horse and jeans. Our culture is elegant, feminine and powerful.”
Jackson also notes that, on a personal level, Cyrus has been through a lot (she recently got divorced) and her appearance on stage was meant to affirm her strength.
“There’s power in a woman who wears her hair that big,” Jackson says. “Western culture is about true courage and character.”
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