Five Style Highlights from the Billboard Music Awards

Brandy, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Brandy, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus at the Billboard Music Awards
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Half of pop's ruling class turned up the glamour for last night's Billboard Music Awards. Despite notable absences from chart (and image) heavyweights including Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Rihanna, we still got to scope out our share of intermittently alluring red carpet oufits. Minus Gaga and Minaj's shock and awe pageantry, the carpet was a more lackluster style zone than we've grown used to, but in that more tempered climate, simplicity showed its virtues. Here are five of our favorite lo0ks from the event.

Miley Cyrus, who has shown remarkable growth as one of pop's more grounded fashionplates, showed up in a long, tapered white jacket from Jean Paul Gaultier that served as a cute replacement for a mod-style minidress. Her voluminous Bardot-esque bob and frosted makeup completed the Sixties vibe.

Carrie Underwood went for a stormy and ethereal vibe, almost literally: she appeared enveloped in a dusky swirl of silk the shade of a thundercloud. America's long-reigning ballroom gown king, Oscar de la Renta, was responsible for the country singer's dramatic look.

Katy Perry appears to be in the midst of an image shift. Perhaps aware that her goofball take on hyperfemininity – which seemed fresh in the pre-Gaga days – has defaulted into yet another pop standard, she's looking to emerge from the sugar coma. After tweeting her admiration for edgy Nineties touchstones Shirley Manson, Gwen Stefani and The Craft, it indeed seems she's taking a page from the Sassy-era handbook. For the Billboard Awards, her makeup was brooding and dark, and her hair was done in an inky purple black. Her airy Blumarine gown, though, retained some of the typical Perry lightheartedness. It's a fine balancing act.

Speaking of the Nineties, "The Boy Is Mine" co-songstresses Brandy and Monica, who are reportedly working together again, both made (separate) appearances on the Billboard red carpet. Brandy donned an Afro and Seventies-spirited minidress from Herve Leger, perhaps in a nod to the late, great disco queen Donna  Summer. Monica, who has always shown an appreciation for stark minimalism, stood tall and cool in a long white maxi gown.

Newcomer Carly Jae Repsen, whose breezy hit "Call Me Maybe" is a rightfully inescapable radio hit, made her red carpet debut in a tastefully classic beige summer gown. Like her music itself, she relied on old-school instincts, not overstimulating gimmickry, to work her charms.