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The Feminist Message Stitched Into Lorde’s Grammy Dress

For some inexplicable and outrageous reason, Lorde wasn’t given a performance spot at the Grammys yesterday. Though the singer was the only female nominee for Grammy Album of the Year with Melodrama, she was the only one of the nominees not approached about performing solo (this graphic shows that only 20 percent of nominees have ever been women, and 11 years “where no women were even nominated”). Instead, she was given the opportunity to perform a tribute to Tom Petty with “American Girl,” which the singer declined.

The artist wasn’t critical of the choice, praising the other nominees: “It’s crazy I’m the only woman in my category, and I feel very proud of that. I’m wearing that mantle for sure. But I’m also stoked that I’m in there with four incredible artists of color—it’s a big moment for the Grammys. It’s exciting when these institutions move in the right way. To me, that is a huge victory.”

However, a later comment from Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, in which he said women should simply “step up,” gestures towards bias that, intentionally or unintentionally, exists within the industry. Another comment from Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich discussed Lorde’s exclusion, where he vaguely said, “I don’t know if it was a mistake. These shows are a matter of choices. We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.”

Despite how amazing it would have been to see Lorde perform at a ceremony that was charged with female empowerment, the singer still made a strong statement with her choice of dress.

Lorde posted an Instagram of her dress, which had a special message stitched in the back. The caption reads, “My version of a white rose — THE APOCALYPSE WILL BLOSSOM — an excerpt from the greatest of all time, jenny holzer 🕊🌹.” While many attendees held or wore a white rose in support of Time’s Up, the artist chose instead to wear a powerful quotation on the back of her red Valentino dress.

The quote, taken from Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays, says:

“Rejoice! Our times are intolerable. Take coverage for the worst is a harbinger of the best. Only dire circumstance can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors. The old and corrupt must be laid to waste before the just can triumph. Contradiction will be heightened. The reckoning will be hastened by the staging of seed disturbances. The apocalypse will blossom.”

(via Variety, image: Screencap from “Green Light,” Universal Music New Zealand Limited)

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