Billy Porter Wore Hand-Painted Butterfly Body Art at the Critics' Choice Awards to Honor the Transgender Community

"I wanted to honor my peeps tonight," Porter explained.

25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Red Carpet
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison)

By now, you should all be aware that if there's a red carpet to be walked, Billy Porter (opens in new tab) will very much shut it down. And the future EGOT winner (just give him that Oscar already, please) did just that at Sunday's Critics' Choice Awards, in a silk jumpsuit designed by Hogan McLaughlin (opens in new tab). But the standout detail of the look? A kaleidoscope of butterfly temporary tattoos, the work of Anna Bernabe (opens in new tab), which spanned Porter's chest and arms.

On Instagram, Porter explained the inspiration for the tattoos. "The hand-painted butterfly tattoos by @heyannabee continue my theme for 2020, which is being released from the bondage of masculinity and flying free," he wrote. "Just like the beautiful ladies from @poseonfx, we are often born into one stage of life and then cocoon into an incubation of self-discovery, transformation, and acceptance, ultimately being released into freedom as beautiful creatures."

A post shared by Billy Porter (@theebillyporter) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Porter said (opens in new tab), "The butterflies are a symbol of the transgender community, how you come from the cocoon, you come as one thing, and then you transform into something else." He continued, "So I wanted to honor my peeps tonight."

The look overall, meanwhile, was "inspired by the free-spiritedness of David Bowie and the 1970’s disco era," Porter's "all-time favorite," he said on Instagram. Styled by Sam Ratelle (opens in new tab), I'd be seriously remiss not to draw your attention to those custom Coach boots, silver jewels by Lynn Ban (opens in new tab), as well as his neon, glass-detailed nails, the work of Vanessa Sanchez McCullough (opens in new tab). What did I tell you, friends? Billy Porter sees a red carpet, and he shuts it down.

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Billy Porter

(Image credit: Frazer Harrison)
Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.