Elegance (mostly) rules on Grammys red carpet

In the grand scheme of awards shows, the Grammys is the chance for stars to dabble in extremes.

Be it a nearly-to-the-navel J.Lo dress or a Lady Gaga-style egg arrival, we've come to crave something over-the-top that can be woven into the threads of pop culture and discussed for award seasons to come.

Stars at the 56th annual Grammy Awards Sunday in Los Angeles went light on extremes in exchange for elegance, choosing instead to express themselves through creative styling.

Taylor Swift, a proven "someone to watch" on the red carpet circuit, was among the night's standouts in a glistening gold Gucci gown. She kept it fresh and fun with a ponytail and minimal makeup. A pregnant Ciara also opted for gold and glamorous, compliments of a sleeved, heavily sequined Emilio Pucci dress. Unlike Ms. Swift, her effortless updo looked a little too effortless and could have benefited from a bit more finessing.

Another golden red carpet goddess was Amber Rose, wife of Pittsburgh's own Wiz Khalifa. She showed off her hard-earned, post-baby body (lots of eating right and exercise, she said) in a figure-flattering, deep-v Naeem Khan gown, even covering her tattoos for the occasion.

Colbie Caillat brought a dose of red-hot drama to the Grammys with a high-collared Ezra Santos dress and vintage jewelry. Paris Hilton also spiced things up with a white collared House of Milani dress with sexy nude panels and sleeves.

"Roar" songstress Katy Perry married quirk with class in a Valentino gown with musical note-print skirt and sheer sleeves and bodice. Kelly Osbourne showed off her personality (and signature purple bob) with a goth-meets-glam sleeved black dress with gold epaulet-styled shoulders that she collaborated on with Badgley Mischka. She personalized it with a cross necklace from her father Ozzy that she draped down the gown's open back.

The ever-edgy Pink stepped out in a refined red gown -- a first on the red carpet for her, she told E! correspondent Ryan Seacrest -- by Johanna Johnson. She looked polished and poised -- perhaps even too much for the Grammys. She could have spared some of it for Sara Bareilles' cornrows, a nod to the "Hunger Games," she said. The messiness clashed with the more delicate, ethereal air of her asymmetrical Blumarine gown with textured appliques.

Don't be mistaken -- the more unusual and even some peculiar looks peppered the more pristine fashions. Madonna, accompanied by her son David, went for menswear-flavored looks with Ralph Lauren tuxedos. She accessorized it with a mouth grill, cane and Michael Jackson-throwback sequin glove -- interesting but pretty conservative by her standards.

Cyndi Lauper's flaming red hair matched the carpet but stood out against her voluminous black Alexander McQueen top and heavy gold necklace. But her hair wasn't nearly as shocking as the clown mask Slipknot's Shawn Crahan sported -- yikes!

The men had a little fashionable fun themselves, playing with pops of color such as eggplant and navy as alternatives to all-black getups. Others stuck with the tuxedo, including "Blurred Lines" singer Robin Thicke. And for many, shades were a must (even indoors)!

For fans of the Jared Leto Golden Globes man-bun, he let his locks go loose this time.

But the men of Daft Punk topped their tuxes with futuristic head-enveloping helmets, sparking some talk on Twitter of a possible new hair trend ... helmet head..

Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com or on Twitter @SaraB_PG

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