Four years ago, would you have believed that the hot-pants-loving singer behind "UR So Gay" would end up with 22 million Twitter acolytes, an approximate net worth of $44 million (two bucks a follower!), and her own concert movie, Katy Perry: Part of Me, chronicling both thousands of performances wherein she is dressed as a glamorous banana and her high-profile divorce? Yeah, neither would we. But it’s futile to resist: Katy Perry is officially a phenomenon. Join us as we see how the erstwhile Katy Hudson — lover of low-heeled shoes and awkward haircuts — gave rise to Katy Perry, perky cocktail of Candyland, Lady Gaga, and Rosie the Riveter, dipped in caffeine and rolled in sparkles.
When: February, 2004 Where: The so-called "Jimmy Choo Annual Oscar Collection Preview and Tea" What: WHAT indeed. From the waist down, Katy looks like she's in the middle of trying on someone's Saturday Night Fever tribute night costume. From the waist up, she looks like she's twenty minutes from expiring of consumption. Perry was in the middle of a doomed collaboration with Columbia Records (ultimately shelved), so maybe we can blame this droopy look on depression and artistic malaise.
When: May 2005 Where: The Lush Swag-Fest and an MTV X-Box party, respectively. In other words: events you attend before you're actually famous … What: … and before you have an actual stylist to tell you that your bra is hanging out and that kitten heels only work with short shorts in really specific and questionably legal situations.
When: June and August 2006 Where: ALucky party and a vague pop music event, meaning the “Get this kid in front of some cameras, stat" portion of Katy's career-building was still in full swing. What: These two are terrible mistakes of proportion, not to mention design. Also, clearly, Katy’s predilection for shiny, shiny, shiny is inborn — extending right down to her panty hose, which are so frumpy even the Queen would suggest she go bare-legged.
When: February 2007 Where: EMI's post-Grammy party. This is still prior to the release of One of the Boys — the album featuring "I Kissed a Girl," etc. — which at least explains why no one seems to care enough to fix this poor child's bangs. What: Tragedy. If Katy had only held onto this for five more years, she could have worn it as a particularly downtrodden background player on Game of Thrones.
When: September 2007 and February 2008 Where: Erin Fetherston’s runway show, and an EMI party What: Seriously, Katy was into the nude hose long before Kate Middleton made us reconsider whether anything beats a great pair of L’Eggs. Add in the bubblegum-ballerina froof and furbelows and she looks like a life-size version of Royal Ascot Barbie.
When: Summer, 2008 Where: TRL — aw, remember TRL? — and the MTV VMAs, proving she was finally famous enough to attend some recognizable acronyms What: Perry's wholehearted embrace of the retro pinup girl aesthetic had begun with a vengeance. A girly, heart-and-glitter appliqued vengeance. It is weird, in retrospect, to note how relatively unpolished she still looks here. She clearly had no idea that she didn’t have to be worth a kajillion dollars before she could afford a really good flat iron.
When: June and October 2008 Where: Her record release party, and the MTV Latin America awards What: It makes sense that Katy celebrated her music debut looking like the offspring of Charo and a watermelon, considering that, in many respects, Charo is her patron saint. Unfortunately, we're still stuck at the intersection of “Hideous” and “Unflattering” — no wonder Little Bo Peep lost her sheep; she was hopped up on painkillers thanks to having her mammaries so roundly crushed.
When: November 2008 Where: MTV Europe Music Awards What: Real talk: This is ridiculous. It's too tight, she's got eyeballs on her boobs, and she's carrying a purse made out of a cupcake. But is it weird that, three and a half years later, we suddenly find it somewhat hilarious? Listen, once you've seen Lady Gaga pop up wearing the Aktins diet, a girl with peepers on her knockers ain't so bad.
When: February 2009 Where: A variety of Grammys-related events, up to and including the actual Grammys. What: Apparently, the theme of the 2009 Grammys was PASTELS. Or maybe BOOBS. Perry brought both, with a side of ruffles and a handful of glitter. In other words: business as usual.
When: September 2009 Where: The VMAs What: Now we’re getting some attitude, some edge. This is obviously still crazy — Katy looks like Joan of Arc, if the Crusades were fought on ice and set to a strings version of Mötley Crüe’s greatest hits — but mercifully less like she was inspired by a cluster of discarded Bazooka Joe chunks underneath a desk somewhere.
When: October 2009 Where: The premiere of This Is It, the Michael Jackson post-mortem concert movie What: Nothing says “So sorry Michael is dead” quite like some cleavage-dragging glad rags that might actually be made of something manufactured by Glad.
When: November 2009 Where: The MTV Europe Music Awards What: We actually like the black lace creeper on her side — there’s an elegance to its edge — but it’s made even more palatable by the abomination she sported inside. We've been confining this retrospective to red-carpet appearances, but an exception must be made for pearl nipples and illusion-netted hot pants that give her a phantom package. We’ve had smaller UPS deliveries.
When: February 2010 Where: A mélange of Grammy festivities What: What kind of a world are we living in when an artist changes into a considerably more formal outfit for the after-party than the one she wore on the red carpet for the actual awards proceedings? No one has any respect for the natural order of things anymore.
When: March 2010 Where: The Vanity Fair Oscar party What: This very grown-up and glitzy Zuhair Murad is actually rather stunning — yes, it’s revealing, but in an incredibly flattering way. And, not for nothing, the pattern reminds us of the delicate icing motif often used on petit fours, so now we also want dessert.
When: May 2010 Where: The Met Ball, which, possibly not entirely coincidentally, she has not attended since What: The light-up theme was funky — and apt; in many ways, it had felt like the only thing Katy Perry’s wardrobe was missing was a battery pack — but the dress itself looks like it was constructed using wads of Kleenex. Which may have come in handy, assuming Anna Wintour saw this and wept for the neon pall it would cast over her party’s carefully chosen décor.
When: June 2010 Where: Canada's MuchMusic Awards, the MTV Movie Awards What: Welcome to the nudity portion of the evening.
When: September 2010 Where: The VMAs What: We’ll say this as delicately as possible: That haphazard white wrapping looks like she’s hiding something, à la the “oops” shot in a Tampax commercial.
When: November 2010 Where: The MTV Europe Awards. Katy Perry has seriously never met an MTV–hosted event she didn't attend. What: There's "delightful BeDazzled whimsy" and then there's "opening the door for bloggers to make inappropriate sex jokes." You choose which category this falls into.
When: February 2011 Where: The Grammys, with Russell Brand and Katy's actual grammy What: There is something sweet about Russell Brand and Katy's grandma coordinating their ensembles for this event. There is something sort of weird about going somewhere with your elderly loved one dressed as though you might, at any moment, escort her to heaven.
When: July 2011 Where: The premiere of The Smurfs What: This is ridiculous, obviously. If everyone came to their movie premieres in character, then the Saw premieres would be, at best, extremely red. But at least it was event-appropriate and not sported at, say, a fund-raiser for Some Terrible Affliction.
When: August and November 2011 Where: Various musical awards ceremonies What: In retrospect, we know Katy's marriage was falling apart around this time, so there could be a number of psychologically interesting explanations for her veering into looking less like herself and more like a caricature. Then again, it’s Katy Perry, so it’s not like “oddball” was virgin ground for her. That last gown might not even be terrible, if not for her roots and the fact that it’s a cup size too small, but the others are totally Cocktail Geisha and Betsey Johnson Presents: American Bandstand.
When: February 2012 Where: MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Paul McCartney What: Katy coped with divorce by becoming a wallflower. Except, literally.
When: February 2012 Where: The Grammys, and Elton John's Oscar viewing party What: Just as Picasso had his Blue Period, so did Katy Perry. This is officially the only similarity between Pablo Picasso and Katy Perry, except possibly for very complicated contortions of breasts.
When: April and May 2012 Where: More music business awards — man, and everyone thinks actors are the ones who need constant validation What: One dress might be pretty, if she cared about keeping it on; the other might be pretty … if it were a completely different dress entirely. But mostly, we just really need to sit Katy down and explain the concept of “upkeep.” Don’t half-ass your dramatic hair color or you end up looking like an M&M someone left out in the rain.
When: June 2012 Where: A City of Hope event honoring founder of MTV Bob Pittman What: Okay. The Great Gatbsy reboot has officially gone too far.
When: June 2012 Where: MuchMusic Movie Awards What: Katy herself looks like she just fell out of an unseen Indiana Jones follow-up, and we are mildly terrified by what she’s wrought upon that poor, innocent posse of Petite Perrys. It’s no surprise that her childlike penchant for glitter and pink makes more sense on actual children, but it’s highly questionable to put a cupcake bra with cherry nipples on a kid who probably still hasn’t noticed that Ken isn’t anatomically correct.
When: June 2012 Where: The premiere of Part of Me, which we keep wanting to call Piece of Me — which is a Britney Spears song, although throw in a dance beat and you might not be able to tell What: This is elegant and flattering, but still colorful and retro. Is it possible that Katy's turning over a new, sophisticated leaf? That the release of her documentary signals the beginning of a more refined Katy Perry? Well, she changed out of this to perform in an ensemble featuring film reels over each breast so … apparently not. But a little campy whimsy, much like donuts, is okay in moderation. Here’s hoping she keeps balancing her diet.
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