Cee Lo's stylist reveals the story behind his feathery Grammy get-up, talks Gwyneth-Beyonce friendship

Cee-Lo-Paltrow-GrammysThere were plenty of surprises on last night’s Grammys, but nothing gave us quite the sartorial shock as the performance of “Forget You,” which saw Cee Lo Green outfitted in a giant feather costume, a gaggle of Muppets, and a stiletto-dancing Gwyneth Paltrow. We got the facts about the fantastical duet from Green’s stylist, Shawn Barton, who has previously worked with OutKast. (Barton spoke to us from London, where she had jetted straight from the Grammys alongside Green, who will be performing at the Brit Awards on Feb. 15.) She dished on Green’s inspiration for the outlandish performance, Paltrow’s wardrobe change of heart, and a certain famous someone who was cheering them on backstage.

Cee-Lo-Elton-John-Grammys

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did this idea come from? Was it an homage to Elton John’s performance on The Muppets Show in the ’70s?
SHAWN BARTON: Absolutely. Cee Lo is a huge fan of Elton John. It was an homage to Elton. Cee Lo remembered that episode on The Muppets from when he was maybe about 5 years old.

What was your reaction when he first told you his idea?
I said, let’s go! And how far can we go? And how far do you want to continue going?

Why did he decide the Grammys was the right place for it?
It’s the Grammys! You see great artists doing spectacular things throughout the years. I remember seeing certain things, like Michael Jackson. Why not the Grammys? For an artist, where can you get away with something like that? And not everyone can afford to see a tour or a show, but everyone tunes into the Grammys.

Who actually made the outfit?
Maria Harper. She’s fantastic designer who makes costumes. She was absolutely just divine in her creation of making that. Maria has been working with Cee Lo, as far as constructing his costumes, for a little while now. She had done things for Cee Lo when he was in Goody Mob and worked with other artists in Goody Mob. She did everything – the outfit, the headpiece.

How heavy was it?
It’s the lightest outfit ever. It was a jumpsuit, Velcro-ed in the front. The wings, he put those on like you would a backpack. Then it was the chain metal-mirror headpiece. It all fit in a flat box. The heaviest thing was maybe the  headpiece. I would say that weighed about 12 pounds. The reaction from people was priceless because he didn’t rehearse in the costume. Everyone else was rehearsing in their costumes, but he had on a T-shirt and flip flops. So when he walked out [in the costume], it was, “Oh damn!” He owned it. Everyone literally stopped what they were doing and cheered. It was the greatest thing ever.

Did you have a part in Gwyneth’s outfit?
Gwyneth Paltrow’s stylist reached out to me, and I let her know what we were doing. I also sent her stylist a photo. I originally thought she was going to be wearing something different because we came up with a [different] color for her to wear. Originally it was going to be a crimson red jumpsuit. Looking back, I liked that she ended up wearing black. It worked well with what we were doing. I thought she looked absolutely gorgeous. And the shoes. Ow! I saw the rehearsal, and she handled it like a pro.

The coolest thing was being backstage. Beyonce watched it with us. She was so excited for her friend [Paltrow]. It was the cutest thing ever. It was so one of the moments when you’re like, “Aw BFF love!” Beyonce was so happy for her. She gave her a big hug, and we all had a moment. It was one of those backstage moments that you’ll always remember.

We all were so excited because originally Cee Lo wasn’t going to get up [from the piano bench] and I was like, “Gosh you have to get up — at least to show the whole outfit!” When he got up, I’m surprised he didn’t hear my screaming onstage. I was so excited, like “Yes! He got up!” That was enough for me. I could’ve gone home for that one. We did not expect him to get up. That was the best moment ever.

Was this your first time working with Cee Lo?
It was. I was a longtime stylist for Outkast, and I worked with Andre and Big Boi. Throughout the years of seeing Cee Lo, being around them, it was just our turn now, really. We have been busy working with different people and the timing of us working together, we were just able to have it this year. It’s fortunate to be able to work with artists who get it. You can just go there, and they are willing to do anything – almost.

So how much does a costume like his go for?
I am still trying to figure that part out. On the plane, Cee Lo’s like “How much is this going to cost me?” I was like, “Uhhh, I’m going to have to get back to you on that one.”

Where’s the costume now?
It’s in my house in L.A. When we left, we literally went from the Grammys to the plane, so my assistants took it to my house until I get back. And then I can figure out how to store this puppy.

Will it ever make another appearance?
No. It’s one of those one-time things. It’s similar to when OutKast did the “Hey Ya” Native American outfits [in 2004]. Those are in my garage. That’s the kind of thing you never show again. Wearing it again takes away from the coolness factor.

How did the Muppets’ costumes come about?
I also helped with designing the costumes of the Muppets. A couple of times I had to go down to Jim Henson’s studio to see the puppets as they were being constructed. Once we had an idea of what our color was going to be, I met with Brian Henson [son of the late Jim Henson] and shared with him what we were going to be doing. I don’t know if you could see, but Piddles the dog wore a diaper. When I sent Brian a photo of the direction we were going, then he came up with the idea of doing something to copy what he was wearing. So I said, “Why don’t we do the same feathers?” I thought that was genius.

What can you tell us about what we’ll see Cee Lo in next?
Tomorrow, we’re doing the Brits and it’s James Bond-inspired. We’re going from the over-the-top feather piece of last night to less flamboyant tomorrow. Cee Lo’s got a range and isn’t afraid to push the envelope. The whole plane ride over to London, we were talking the whole time: “What about this?” and “What about that?” It’s cool to have a crew of people that appreciate their art. We have some really exciting things I can’t talk about because they’re percolating in the creative pot right now. If people were excited about what they saw last night, we’re about to take it to a whole other level of funk and coolness. I think people will be surprised by what Cee Lo has in store for people. He definitely isn’t afraid, and I’m talking outside his clothing. I’m talking about his creative mind, and where it can go.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Cliff Lipson/CBS

Comments (67 total) Add your comment
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  • Dave

    I love Cee Lo. This performance was awesome, probably the best of the night in my opinion. It was so much fun to watch.

    • LillyCB

      I AGREE!!!! THE BEST OF THE NIGHT!

      • CW

        so funky….ceelo is the heat

      • Lizzie Lohan

        I love her music and LesbianFriends.net was fabulous

  • Annie

    Someone clearly loves their job. It makes me happy to hear about people who are truly passionate about what they do. They totally beat Gaga in the terms of shock factor. Plus, it was a fun performance. Second to only Janelle/Bruno/BoB IMO. In this case, the chicken came before the egg.

    • shallowshaw

      lol awesome

    • Lee Daniels

      Hahahahahaha! EXCELLENT. Your brain is simply wonderful. Thank you. Lord, I NEEDED that belly laugh

    • Mary Gordon

      You are so right! Quick-witted, too. Look how much warmth and humor you packed into a short comment. Are you a genius?

    • Dave

      Haha great comment, Annie!

  • graeme

    Yup, easily one of the best performances.

  • kazz

    he looks great, he sounds great, the muppets are great – Paltrow sucks

  • Dee Jones

    Yeah a great performance! That outfit looked like something Patti LaBelle wore back in the day when she was with Labelle.

  • DJ

    The first thought in my mind when i saw the outfit was Elton John, I think it was great

  • alorindanya

    They aren’t Muppets; Muppets are now owned by the Walt Disney Company and therefore to call these puppets as such is incorrect. Muppets is a copyrighted term. Those were not Muppets.

    • Scott

      You poor thing.

      • sm101

        Thank you.

    • Me

      Um, no.

    • mtncreekdawn

      Exactly right. These are Henson puppets, but part of their adult comedy ensemble. Somehow, though, I don’t think anyone but us Henson-/puppet-geeks are going to make that differentiation!

      • Jon

        Clown ass DJ’s? Not a very nice start, Firehouse. There are plenty of cool pleacs in the area, and these pleacs didn’t become successful by trashing the other local options. It shouldn’t be reduced to name calling. The Tally Ho will likely help your business, drawing more people to your area of the Southside. Perhaps you should consider that before you start treating it as an adversary.

      • Zaki

        ist hier bei jemandem praeisst der die Kreis se4ge verkehrt herum angeschlossen hat.Die se4ge lief Falschrum und er wollte wieder abschalten, aber die se4ge hatte eine Motorbremse ( das war schlecht!)als die Se4ge die welle gebremst hat, hat sich das Se4geblatt Falscheherum weitergedreht und hat die Sicherungsmutter gelf6st! Das Se4geplatt ist ca. 25-50 Meter weit fcber die Stradfe gepfeffert!War Sau gefe4hrlich! Da kann man nur noch die Beine in die Hand nehmen und RENNEN!

  • Shaolin Shadowboxer

    It’s “Goodie Mob”, not “Goody Mob”.
    Assclown.

  • darclyte

    As soon as Cee Lo hit the stage, I recognized Elton’s “Crocodile Rock” costume. Cee lo had blue feathers while Elton’s were green, and Cee Lo’s chest piece was silver whereas Elton’s was gold, but the slight changes made it a nice homage as opposed to a copy. Great job with the idea, the performance, the Muppets, and even Gwyneth.

  • Tricia

    I like Cee Lo, love the song, but man he looked like a flying monkey from the movie, The Wiz, then homage to Elton John.

  • Shh

    Gwyneth looked great, such a colorful performance :)

    • kazz

      GP is evil

  • Anne

    Thanks to Cee Lo for a great hommage to wonderful Elton John! A duet would be cool and could be fun for all involved.

  • Nessa

    LOL When I first saw this last night I was howling! I mean I REMEMBER that episode of the Muppets! The people who work with me, with exception to maybe three others, Wouldn’t! Was lovely what they did with his ‘back-up band’ and the backing singers? Yea you may have changed the lyric, but two of the girls had their middle-fingers purposely showing and sticking out! SWEET JOB Glad Madam you love your job, is very good at it and that you also have fun! Damn he is short!

    • Lanches

      Ms. Jenn – What a wonderful find!! I was tonliog around on the Emmaus Farmer’s Market facebook, and just a few clicks later I find one of my favorite little ones from Devine. Zoe and Anna have gotten so big and as always are so beautiful! Chris and Jen, I hope all is well! Really nice to stumble upon your page! I am soon moving to Emmaus, as Dante is 4 and should be starting pre-k this year, so hopefully our paths will cross again in the near future.

  • Marian

    The performance was all kinds of cute. I can imagine Beyonce giving Gwyneth a big hug for support and watching the rehearsals.

  • Jim

    Hardly breaking news, already heard this last week.,,and yes, it was a great performance!!!

    • Kate

      Not quite sure where you saw the words “breaking news”

    • Jon

      Lol, and how could it be breaking news last week, before it even happened?

    • John

      Jim isn’t that bright, be nice.

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