"Can you believe we're in Brooklyn!" exclaimed Lady Gaga on the red carpet outside the Barclays Center at last night's 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Brooklyn was indeed in the house. The world's top musical acts turned up at the show in more pared-down ensembles than at VMAs past, against a backdrop of brownstones and bars. Ms. Gaga was in a New York state of mind, or St. Marks Place, at least, with a custom black Prabal Gurung gown, accessorized by long black hair and a single nose ring. Miley Cyrus brought a bit of bling to her vintage Dolce & Gabbana black crop top and leggings with encrusted rhinestones and Giuseppe Zanotti platforms. Models Coco Rocha and Erin Wasson had fans wondering if fashion week came early, strolling into the arena in all black looks—Rocha in a punked-out leather jacket to match her new pixie cut, and Wasson in a black turban and long-sleeve mesh dress that left little to the imagination.
Some attendees brought Hollywood glam to the East Coast. Rita Ora was a showstopper in a baby blue long-sleeved sequin Alexandre Vauthier gown with feathered train, while Ciara conjured up over-the-top awards show glam in cutout Givenchy couture. Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez looked Academy Awards bound. Swift was serious and statuesque in a skintight navy Hervé Leger by Max Azria, her hair side-parted with siren-esque waves. Gomez chose an Atelier Versace long-sleeve navy gown with a peekaboo sequin bustier.
Once the show started, though, demure went out the window. Gaga performed her new single "Applause" in a seashell bra and thong bottom, while Miley Cyrus sang "Blurred Lines" alongside Robin Thicke, twerking the room in nude underwear. In a skinny mint green suit, Macklemore picked up a silver Moonman early on in the awards for Best Hip-Hop Video for "Can't Hold Us." Introduced by Jared Leto, Kanye West performed a much bleeped-out "Black Skinhead," and Pharrell Williams, who in true Brooklyn style rode his bike to the show, presented Best Female Video along with Nile Rodger and Daft Punk to Taylor Swift for "I Knew You Were Trouble."
The biggest honor of the night, however, went to Justin Timberlake, who picked up the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Timberlake performed a medley of hits and teamed up with former 'N Sync bandmates for a much buzzed-about reunion.