Miley Cyrus Is Officially in Her Diva Era

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Photography by Getty Images

The singer’s Grammys looks paid homage to greats like Tina Turner and Cher.

On February 4, Miley Cyrus took to the 2024 Grammys stage to perform her award-winning song, “Flowers.” The tune, from her 2023 album Endless Summer Vacation, is a certified bop; an anthem for independent people everywhere who are embracing themselves and saying they don’t need a partner to have fun — they can do that all on their own.

Watching Cyrus, who’d taken home her first Grammy (!) earlier that night, rocking a silver 2002 vintage Bob Mackie dress from the designers “To Broadway With Love” collection with her hair teased to the gods, it was hard not to feel like we were witnessing the birth of a star — or in this case, a new certified diva.

Cyrus’ latest looks, along with her musical evolution, have cemented the singer as a diva-in-training, following in the footsteps of legends like Tina Turner (a fellow Bob Mackie fan) and Cher. When it comes to her ability to reinvent herself, she is arguably this generation’s Madonna. And yes, Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga should be shaking in her boots.

To be clear, people didn’t always necessarily think “diva” when considering Cyrus. After all, she got her start on the Disney Channel at age 14, playing the role of a goofy incognito country singer on Hannah Montana. When it came to her style during this time, Cyrus dressed like most tweens in the mid-2000s, donning skirts over pants and cropped sweaters.

When the show ended in 2011, a then 19-year-old Cyrus was fresh off her first feature film, The Last Song, and in a relationship with future husband (now ex-husband) Liam Hemsworth. She was growing up, becoming a star outside of her teeny-bopper days, and her style reflected that. During this time, Cyrus leaned into old Hollywood cues on the red carpet, wearing designers like Jenny Packham. It was soft, it was sweet, it was safe — and it didn’t necessarily have a whole lot to say.

Then came the #Bangerz years. Shortly before her split from Hemsworth in 2013, the singer chopped and bleached her hair and  took to the VMAs stage with Robin Thicke and a foam finger for a performance we *all* remember. Arguably Cyrus’ most problematic era, in that she was consistently appropriating and emulating Black culture, her style during this period was defined by the shock factor, something Cyrus has said was a means to separate herself from the Disney character she’d played as a teen.

Post-Bangerz, the actor bopped around style-wise, trying dreadlocked ponytails (*shudder*) and harnesses, before reuniting with fiancé Hemsworth in January 2016. Until their final break-up in 2019, Cyrus — then 27 — had leaned into a rocker-chic aesthetic, donning the wet-look hair and tons of black and leather, mixing it up with designers like Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent.

In short, Cyrus’ style has been all over the place. But we shouldn’t be too surprised. Cyrus has spoken about the impact that being on a show like Hannah Montana at such a young age had on her identity and style. During a March 2021 interview on Spotify’s Rock This with Allison HagendorfCyrus shared that Hannah “was a character almost as often as I was myself,” saying that — like her character — she felt that when she looked like herself, without the glitz and glam of being thee Miley Cyrus, that no one cared about her.

“That’s maybe why I almost created a characterized version of myself at times,” Cyrus said. “I never created a character where it wasn’t me, but I was aware of how people saw me and I maybe played into it a little bit.”

But this new Miley Cyrus era feels different. Since her 2019 divorce from Hemsworth, and after a brief dip into a more ’80s punk rock aesthetic, the star has taken a step back from the public eye in many ways. She’s been dating relative normie drummer Maxx Morando since 2021, has focused on different acting roles (like starring in Season 5 of Black Mirror), and — after years of changing her sound — released some of the most acclaimed music of her career.

As Cyrus has entered her 30s, she’s seemingly settled into herself and is ready to embrace her power — and you can see that in her style. In a May 2023 interview with British Vogue, Bradley Kenneth (Cyrus’ stylist since 2015) said the singer typically references royals, goddesses, and divas with her looks, including Erykah Badu, Destiny’s Child, Grace Jones, Whitney Houston and Brandy.

“I’m also obsessed with ancient Egyptian queens like Nefertiti and Cleopatra, and greek goddesses like Aphrodite and Hera,” Kenneth also said of his references for styling Cyrus. That tracks. Cyrus’ Grammy looks specifically seemed to emulate 1970s-era divas of the singing world like Tina Turner and Cher in both their silhouettes and designers. And this is no coincidence. As WWD notes, Turner was a fan of Bob Mackie, calling on the designer during the 1970s and ’80s during her disco era. This was shortly after her divorce from her former musical partner Ike Turner, when the singer emerged from his shadow and reinvented herself.

Similarly, the 1970s is when Cher came into her own as a performer and TV personality, launching both the The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour as well as her own namesake show, Cher. Cyrus has worn Bob Mackie before, donning another archival dress from the same 2002 collection to perform at her 2022 NBC New Year’s Eve special. It’s clear that she turns to the designer in moments when she wants to feel strong and powerful.

Cyrus paying homage to these divas is no coincidence, signalling that, after years of being in the shadow — of the industry, men in her life, and constant criticism — Cyrus is similarly coming into her own. And we can probably expect a similar vibe fashion-wise moving forward, with Cyrus leaning into archival ’fits that honour the greats for her eardrum-shattering performances, and a more simple, streamlined look when she’s offstage.

One thing’s for sure: Whatever Cyrus wears next, it won’t be boring.

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