One of the most amazing transformations within the last decade certainly belongs to the wildly talented, endlessly creative Alicia Keys. In the more than 11 years since she busted onto the scene with Songs In A Minor, Keys has evolved from a tomboy with a tinge of femininity to one smoking-hot mama. Though music has been her first and foremost focus, Keys has broadened her horizons and approached fashion as an extension of her artistry. Her ascension to the top of the style game has made her an obvious subject for SoulTrain.com’s Fashion Transformation.
When “Fallen” launched Manhattan-born Keys into the spotlight, her style was certainly reflective of her New York roots. Tight braids to go along with a city-slicker emphasis on jeans and more urban gear were her mainstays. Make-up was minimal in these early goings, and her red-carpet choices were definitely hit or miss. Case in point: The 2002 Grammy Awards. Though obviously an attempt to step outside her comfort zone, Keys racked up a fashion miss under her belt with a peculiar genie-inspired ensemble, complete with headpiece and an overzealous use of glittery eye shadow. Though she would earn an impressive five statues that night (for Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, Best New Artist and Best R&B Album) and tie with Lauryn Hill for the most awards won in a single night by a female artist, she still had miles to go before she would become the fashion icon she is today. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Keys would become far more feminine – and wise — in her style choices.
Though Keys typically erred on the side of tame with many of her fashion choices, this subtly became one of her biggest strengths as her style evolution continued. Neutral tones and pastel colors slowly crept into her wardrobe, as did a daringness to experiment with her hair choices. Though her braids were definitely a trademark early in her career, she decided to stray out of the box and play with flirty coifs. From blown-out locks to curly tresses, Keys showed her flexibility on the red carpet and in videos like 2004’s “My Boo” with Usher. Along with new hairstyles, she also began to embrace more couture, higher fashion looks. Armani, Calvin Klein and Vera Wang slowly entered Keys’ fashion rotation at events such as the CFDA Fashion Awards, the Grammys and the Oscars. One of her greatest fashion moments undoubtedly came at the 81st Annual Academy Awards when she donned a strapless lilac Armani Privé gown with a sexy thigh-high slit. From that point on, it was a given that Keys was about to become a certifiable fashionista.
By 2009, Keys’ style game had reached unprecedented heights. She was taking chances and going head-to-head with style mavens like Beyoncé (“Put It In A Love Song”). But there is no doubt that one of her greatest style phases came during her pregnancy with first child, Egypt. From her Grecian goddess-inspired Vera Wang wedding dress to a beautiful fuchsia dress during her performance at the BET Awards in 2010, Keys embraced her pregnancy with a remarkable sense of style. And even after marriage, even after giving birth, Keys has maintained an enviable sense of what works and what doesn’t, what flashes her best features and what will make her the shining star on any red carpet.
Amanda Younger is a freelance writer and web producer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Time Out New York, SI.com, YourTango and FHM.com. Follow her on Twitter @ayounger45.