The fashions were as diverse as the vehicles that delivered the artists when country music’s finest arrived Wednesday at the Grand Ole Opry House for The 34th Annual Country Music Awards.
The Dixie Chicks, pouring out of a ’50s classic car, stole the show in vintage beaded gowns of Austrian crystal, designed by Giorgio di Saint Angelo. Natalie’s champagne-colored, hooded floor-length dazzler served as her wedding gown during her Las Vegas marriage ceremony on June 24 to actor Adrian Pasdar.
From Cledus T. Judd’s arrival in a stretch Hummer limo, sporting purple beaded-and-embroidered overalls, to kid singing sensation Billy Gilman’s scurrying up on a scooter, in a tailored blue suit, the atmosphere was festive and the attire quite varied.
Shania Twain, svelte and stunning, made her grand entrance on a golf cart. She jump-started the flashing cameras as soon as she came into view in a black, shimmering gown. Lee Ann Womack arrived in a turquoise, backless dress, accompanied by husband and producer Frank Liddell and daughters Aubrie and Anna-Lise. Jo Dee Messina was one of many female artists who chose backless halter tops and long skirts or leather pants.
John Michael Montgomery and brother Eddie Montgomery, of Montgomery Gentry, wore jeans, boots and jackets and weren’t the only gents who chose the casual look. Neal McCoy, on his way to host the CMT preview show, wore his usual jeans and boots. When the cameras started going off, McCoy joked, “Y’all are making me feel like a star.”
There had been much speculation all week as to who Chely Wright and Brad Paisley — both single — would choose as their escorts. When they came out of their white limo, Wright and Paisley pulled the old “bait and switch.” No sooner had they started posing for the photographers than their real dates, Opry members Bill Anderson and Jeannie Seely, popped up behind them. Wright grinned at Anderson, “This is my real date!”
From tuxedos, leather pants, jeans, boots, halter tops and designer gowns, there was a little bit of every kind of fashion statement, prompting a photographer for the German press to exclaim, almost surprised, “These people are quite hip.”