It seems to me that the MTV Video Music Awards pose a similar problem for the music world as casual Fridays pose for the corporate world: No one is sure exactly what is appropriate to wear. Do you dress up (it IS an awards ceremony), or pull a stunt (people like crazy, right?), or act like you're above it all and dress down (this is Rock n Roll for Pete's sake). Let's look at a few of these different approaches and determine which failed and which prevailed.
For me, Hailee Steinfeld (above) presented most on-theme for the evening. She wore Balmain which, by nature, is edgy yet sophisticated - two perfect notes to hit for an event celebrating contemporary music. Also the choice to wear color was brilliant and on point. Much of Balmain is muted and metallic and often doesn't translate in photos as well as it does in person. This dress sings loudly, albeit in a very lovely French accent. Standing O!
If the MTV logos were not so prominently displayed in the background, I would assume this was Alessia Cara's first-day-of-school photo except that it's not even cute enough for the first day of school. This looks like she's a senior in high school, 8 months in, and has officially checked out until college begins. Baddie Winkle might look like she's off her rocker (metaphorically AND literally) but at least she has a sense of occasion. No effort was expended here and that I cannot forgive. Hell No.