Of his humble beginnings in 1956, when only seven nations participated, Eurovision reached epic proportions.

Known for his kitsch mix of Euro-pop, bizarre choreography and performances 182 million viewers tuned to the competition in 2019. This year, 39 artists are seeking international glory.

Although the competition is centered on music, the costumes compete for attention. They are a kind of language, embodying the cultural values ​​and the expressive agency of the artist. The Eurovision Song Contest is a performer in its own right, so here are ten of the best (or most scruffy) costumes in Eurovision history.

Conchita Wurst in Gold

Conchita Wurst echoed Celine Dion, with a beard.

Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst won the coveted award in 2014, wearing an elegant, floor-length gold brocade bodycon dress paired with a perfectly groomed beard and long, shiny hair.

By choosing a dress that hugs her curves, Wurst has achieved the glamorous heights of performers such as Celine Dion (who won Eurovision for Switzerland in 1988), while the juxtaposition of the beard heralded his status as a genderqueer artist.

On the world stage, Wurst has been seen to pave the way for others to fearlessly follow in his footsteps.

The demonic Lordi

It might not be what you think of when you hear Finish dress – but the metal music is huge there.
Photo AP / Petros Giannakouris

The demonic costumes and corpse-shaped masks worn by Finnish heavy metal band Lordi were fully adopted by the crowd, earning them the 2006 title.

The gruesome prosthetics and Kiss-inspired costumes included fur, nails, chains, claws and horns, capturing the spirit of heavy metal – it was also aimed at Finland. healthy appetite for the kind of music that thrives in the country.

Silver Star Verka Serduchka

Just your normal wife from rural Ukraine.
Photo AP / Alastair Grant

Even for unsuccessful applicants, costumes have the potential to leave a lasting legacy.

This is exactly what Ukrainian artist Verka Serduchka did in 2007, donning a disco ball cap, matching tie and metallic trench coat under the shadow of silver-clad relief dancers.

Like Conchita Wurst, Verka Serduchka is a drag character: the flamboyant middle-aged woman of Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko, where a full chest was as much a costume as a helmet topped with a gigantic silver star.

Read more: A song to unite? Eurovision’s gender policy still divides

Aliona Moon’s Changing Canvas

Moldovan singer Aliona Moon stood on a rising platform in a five-meter-long dress on which projections turned the cosmic nebula fabric into a flaming pyre.

The dress itself was fairly unremarkable, but the use of digital projection recast Moon’s costume from dress to canvas. The projections changed with the tempo of the song, adding drama and suspense as it reached a crescendo.

A Very Messy Wig Wam

For their entry in 2005, Norwegian outfit Wig Wam presented a mind-boggling take on glam rock meets cowboy camp.

The lead singer’s costume gave a nod to music icons of the 70s and 80s: think Can The Can by Suzi Quatro, David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, or Alice Cooper’s Out school. . The crotch-hugging silvery spandex suit flared hard at the legs and dropped low to the chest, carrying the hairy chest of the required rocker.

Fortunately for Wig Wam, all eyes remained on the lead singer, as the costumes of his bandmates were an inconsistent and incomprehensible mix of rock fashion genres and decades.

The sexy Svetlana Loboda

Svetlana Loboda of Ukraine sings during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russia on May 14, 2009.

2009 Ukrainian artist Svetlana Loboda performed in a burlesque costume as she returned to the stage by buff, spinning and scantily clad gladiators.

Burlesque, known for its eroticism and its use in cabaret, was the perfect match for Loboda’s song “Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl)”, but Loboda and his gladiators were flanked by two statues of Marie Antoinette-meets -Lady Liberty in silver lamé – perplexed bookends to a performance that was just plain chaotic.

The traditional dress of Buranovskiye Babushki

Held Buranovskiye Babushki from a village in the Udmurtia Republic of Russia, the group mixed modern pop sounds with traditional choral singing.
AP Photo

Eurovision is not just a competition for young people and glitter. In 2012, Buranovskiye Babushki endearingly sang a mixture of folk and pop in traditional Udmurt costume.

The Udmurt people are an ethnic group in central Russia, and their traditional dress combines detailed embroidery with vibrant red fabrics in a tradition that dates back centuries.

In the history of Eurovision, the Buranovskiye Babushki were perhaps the most faithful example of national dress – and their costumes have remained unchanged by their fame at Eurovision.

Dschinghis Khan is not Mongolian

The implicit ties to Genghis Khan of Germany’s entry into 1979, Dschinghis Khan, have left the public scratching their heads.

It only gets weirder when you realize that the costume looks nothing like the Mongolian dress.

Instead, Dschinghis Khan wore a bolero-style jacket covered with a golden cape and matching pants, topped with a rhinestone crown. A keen eye could also catch the riding boots that carry the singer onto the stage – another unlikely item of clothing during the early Mongol Empire.

The confusing Dustin Turkey

Representing Ireland in 2008 was Dustin Turkey. Almost improbably, the DJ – a Muppet-like bird with a large beak and a sequined jacket – was eclipsed by the deeply confusing assemblage of lamé dancers, feathered headdresses and loincloths.

The only relation you could get from this downright confusing arrangement was the colors of the Irish national flag.

Best of 2021: TIX

TIX performs in the first semi-final of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest.

So far, the 2021 competition has not disappointed. Norwegian artist TIX combined huge feathered wings with glitter from neck to toe, headband and aviator sunglasses – in addition to an array of chains, a beastly horned devils dance team, pyrotechnics and the performance of compulsory light.

Whether you think of Eurovision as a cultural grimace or remain a die-hard fan, after 65 it’s still a real costume show.

Read more: Australia exited Eurovision but does not cancel the filmed performances: they could lead to a greener and more global competition

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