When American Idol announced that designer Tommy Hilfiger was joining the show as the in-house stylist to the contestants, it seemed like a major makeover episode was in store. But as Wednesday night's performances rolled on, the dramatic reveals were few and far between.
There was talk of Skylar Laine's cowboy boots and DeAndre Brackensick's studded shoulders, yet neither materialized on stage. Elise Testone and Hilfiger bonded over bellbottoms, but she hit the stage in a red flowing dress instead. Colton Dixon discussed changing up his mohawk-mullet, but during his performance of "Piano Man," his signature hairstyle was as present as ever.
Backstage after the show, several contestants admitted that while the designer's advice was much appreciated, implementing it just didn't feel right. "Fashion-wise, he was trying to put me in something that wasn't me," said Heejun Han, who while on stage ripped off a black tuxedo jacket to reveal a bright red shirt layered under a t-shirt. "I just didn't like it. This is who I am, what I am wearing today, and I'm happy with it."
Brackensick, who received suggestions about creating an "enhanced look" using studded clothing and sequined sleeves, politely listened to the advice but decided to do his own thing. "I was really happy that they were just suggestions," he said. "It was really out there and it really wasn't me at all. I had to feel comfortable."
Indie rocker Phillip Phillips didn't land on the same page with any of the mentors this week. Hilfiger told him he needed to ditch grey clothing, "because it's dull," while guest mentor Diddy asked him to ditch the guitar. Phillips opted to ditch neither.
"If there's something I don't agree with, I'm going to say it. That's just what I did tonight," said Phillips, who wore a grey shirt he'd picked out before the consultation. "They suggest things. They don't tell you what to do. You can take it or leave it, and I guess this week I kind of left it. Like I said, it's not just about the image for me."
Fortunately for Hilfiger, he had better luck with the girls, with whom he seemed to find more common ground. "It felt good that he kind of saw me for how I would like to see myself," said Testone. "It was a quick meeting, but I felt he got where I was going with it. I'm still on the hunt for some sweet bellbottoms!"
It was rocker chick Erika Van Pelt who elicited the only real gasp of the night, with her newly cropped jet-black hair, which she later admitted was mostly her doing. "I wanted to take a risk," she said. "I took Tommy's idea to go shorter and took things into my own hands as far as the color is concerned."
Though new to the industry, it appears this year's Idol crop isn't afraid to stand up for what they believe is right — even if means stepping on some high-profile toes. "When these mentors come in, we totally respect their opinions," said Van Pelt. "But at the end of the day it has to be about us."
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