Jennifer Lopez defended the black leotard she wore for her recent Britain's Got Talent performance, after viewers and the media made a dramatic fuss about it being too raunchy. "I think people are so much raunchier than I am. I feel like I'm so tame," she told a British radio station. The look — the red version of which became famous in her video for "Live It Up" — is by New York-based designers The Blonds, who are famous for creating fabulous, sparkly performance looks for female performers. David Blond, who designs the label with Phillipe Blond, jumped on the phone with BuzzFeed Fashion to explain why J. Lo's "raunchy" ensemble was actually quite conservative — and why he's actually kind of enjoying the uproar.
BuzzFeed Fashion: Did you create this look specifically for J. Lo?
David Blond: We had the idea [for that outfit] around three years ago. It's funny how things come around and eventually find their way to the right person. The idea of it was we just love the contrast, playing with silhouettes and volume in different places — having a slim body with very voluminous sleeves has this effect of having a cover up. It sort of goes back to that whole time when [performers] would have feathers and do reveals, and when she would wrap her arms around herself it was like another reveal.
The black version she wore for Britain's Got Talent ended up being controversial.
That's the point. We always enjoy when a piece starts conversation and gets people going. The whole point of what we do is entertain people and help them have fun and escape from the everyday. And I think the choreography had something to do with it.
Right, people thought the crotch shots were too much.
It's interesting to me because she did exaclty the same thing and the same choreography at the Billboard Awards, but she's only filmed from the front at the Billboards, so you only see her boots popping. But in Britain's Got Talent they did a shot of her from above so it really gave a full-on [view], which I think is fabulous. That's my favorite part of the choreography.
For reference, here's that move on Britain's Got Talent.
And here it is at the Billboard Awards.
Some news outlets accused her of nearly having a wardrobe malfunction. How do you engineer a garment so that that doesn't happen?
It's all about stretch — that's the main thing. A lot of our clients don't dance as much as she does, so she in particular needs something that's going to be strong and stretch and move with her body and not wrinkle in strange ways.
The red piece is sequined, and that's on a very stretchy lycra mesh — like a stretch tulle. And the other piece is the laminated lycra, and the laminant looks like snakeskin, but it can actually stretch. But there's definitely litle things you think about like sturdier elastic around the leg. We didn't have to worry about malfuntions because basically her whole top is covered and she wears dance pants underneath the leotard.
So it's like wearing leggings, is what you're saying?
They're dance pants, and you layer your nude fishnet over that. There's all these little tricks to the trade, so essentially it's all illusion — this glamorous smoke and mirrors thing going on. Thats why I think it's funny that people think it's that provocative. The only thing not covered is her face, you know?
What else goes into costumes like this that people don't know about?
I don't think people understand a lot of the different details that go into it and how much thought goes into anything she wears. Before she actually wears a piece, it has to go through several different levels of people and rehearsals, and there's so many things that you edit in the whole process from start to finish. Sometimes something won't get worn if one small thing goes wrong.
Do you work with the performers throughout the whole process?
It would impossible for us to be with every client the whole time. When we have the stylists and creative team to work with, they're the liaison between us and the client. Typically for us second or third fittings are a luxury. We have to go off the measurements that are sent — or whatever information we get — over the phone or via email.
And what's the process like with J. Lo specifically?
The great thing about her is we've known her for a long time, we've worked with her for a long time, she's an amazing person, and really, really fun to work with. I feel like we have a similar aesthetic when we think about something in terms of a show — it's always something impactful that makes a point or makes a statement. Because obviously we can't have a show without sparkle.