Every year, Essence Festival brings out some of the biggest names in entertainment to the great city of New Orleans for a weekend celebrating Black music, culture, and revelry. Hosted near the July 4 holiday, the landmark event boasts nightly concerts at the Superdome — including Prince in 2014, Janet Jackson in 2022, and Missy Elliott this year — as well as a packed schedule of events during the day like a Disney Parks brunch or a Roc Nation day party. And celebrities come dressed in their finest summer-ready outfits for the occasion.
Keeping the city’s scorching temperatures and soaring humidity in mind, stars manage to choose practical looks without sacrificing style. There are plenty of warm-weather-friendly trends on display, from hip cutouts to swimwear worn as tops to denim micro minis. Bra and skirt sets, breezy printed shorts, and classic white T-shirts are also in heavy demand at the stylish festival. For concerts, artists think outside the box, choosing bold designs that will make a memorable impact. From a custom couture look with dramatic ruffles and pleats by Robert Wun to a nude bodysuit covered in glittering gold embellishment, there’s no telling what theatrical look you’ll witness on the Essence Festival stage.
For the 2023 Essence Festival, artists brought their sartorial A game. Janelle Monáe gave an unforgettable performance wearing a simple black and white miniskirt and bikini top, which she removed to flash a purple nipple pastie. Coco Jones looked stunning backstage in a peach halter top and flared pants with sparkly hip cutouts on each side. Ari Lennox channeled Tina Turner in a red fringe design with crisscross netting and strappy sandals to match. And Megan Thee Stallion commanded the stage wearing a nude-panel thong bodysuit with glittering gemstones placed strategically along the bodice.
Keep reading for the best celebrity looks from the 2023 Essence Festival, from the stage to the red carpet.