Wayne Scot Lukas, the Bergen County-raised stylist to the stars, does not do wardrobe malfunctions.
In other words, what happened at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show in Houston, where Justin Timberlake tore away Janet Jackson’s top to partially reveal her right breast, was not the result of a malfunction, Lukas says.
He should know. Lukas was Jackson’s stylist for the performance, and 18 years later, he says he’s still upset at how Timberlake deflected blame onto him for his role in the incident by calling it a “wardrobe malfunction” after the game.
But he’s moving on quite nicely. Lukas, whose worked with Tina Turner, Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, Lauren Hutton, Halle Berry, Whitney Houston, Meryl Streep and more, has rebounded since then. He’s writing a book about his Super Bowl experiences and his A-list career called “WAR-drobe MALFUNCTIONS.”
“I don’t throw people under the bus,” Lukas says. “I tell the truth and then I tell my part in it and how I’ve survived. My career is back, and there’s a lot of magic happening. “
He’s also going into the Metaverse in a big way.
“I’m going to be the first fashion stylist to start styling NFT’s for the Metaverse, which is going to be huge,” Lukas says. NFT stands for non-fungible token, which is a digital item available exclusively to the purchaser.
The dress Lukas and Gianni Versace created for Tina Turner’s now legendary “24/7” tour is going to have a new life, too.
“I’m in the process of selling one of Tina Turner’s exclusive dresses from Gianni Versace as an NFT,” Lukas says. “They’re making a graphic of me running through the streets of Paris in animation as I’m creating this dress with Gianni Versace. Tina didn’t want to wear it, and at the end she put on the dress and the dress made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as one of the best dresses in rock ‘n’ roll history. ”
Still, it’s likely that Lukas will forever be associated with the Super Bowl incident. Timberlake’s actions were crippling to Lukas’ career, the celebrity stylist says.
“Nobody was prepared because nobody thought it was going to go wrong,” Lukas says. “So when Justin came off the stage and said it’s just a little ‘wardrobe malfunction,’ that’s what caused 18 years of drama, because he blamed me. Then he admitted it. ”
The reveal was planned by Jackson and her choreographer, Gil Duldulao, Lukas says. Jackson’s rep, Duldulao and Timberlake’s rep did not respond to requests for comments to this story.
Timberlake mistakenly thinks he’s the one who came up with the concept of the reveal, Lukas says. “Justin thought that by taking me into a room before the Super Bowl happened and saying, ‘We got to do something big. We got to show something. We got to make this happen, ‘(that he came up with the concept), ”Lukas says.
But that was not the case, according to the designer. “I said ‘OK, you talk to Janet. You make that plan with Janet. ‘ (Meanwhile), I’m going to handle this. (Yet) as far as Justin knows, it was his idea. ”
Jackson wore a sunburst nipple shield for the performance.
“People ask why was she wearing a pasty if it wasn’t supposed to come off,” Lukas says. Janet wears a nipple shield and nipple piercing every single day, so it was nothing new about her breast being covered with a nipple piercing like that. I had found that nipple piercing (shield) in Houston a couple of days before because they were going to rip the top off. Everything was completely covered except for an eighth of an inch of her areola and the very tip of her nipple, the size of the tip of your pinkie. That’s all that was sticking out from the shield. ”
The stage lights were supposed to go dark the moment Timberlake tore away the top, Lukas says. “She was supposed to grab with her hands and cover everything and MTV was responsible for leaving the lights on ’cause (the lyric was)’ Have you naked by the end of this song, ‘and on’ song ‘it was rip, go to black, fireworks, ”Lukas says.
The day of “Nipplegate” was revisited by Lukas when former MTV senior vice president Salli Frattini blamed him for the incident in the “Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson” episode of The New York Times Presents series on Hulu.
“My instincts told me that there was a private conversation between wardrobe, stylist and artist, where someone thought this would be a good idea, and it backfired,” said Frattini on “Malfunction,” which debuted Nov. 19, 2021. Frattini did not respond to a request for comment.
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Lukas says he received threats from Jackson fans after the episode aired, and he requested that we not publish his hometown or where he lives now at the Jersey Shore. “The bigger picture is the amount of lies, hate, set-up and mess that went on around us,” he says. “Janet wants to put that all to rest. I agree with that, but there’s a bigger problem here that people aren’t looking at. ”
The A&E Janet Jackson documentary that aired in January left questions unanswered, especially for Lukas. While Timberlake’s career was largely unaffected by the controversy, Jackson’s star power seemed diminished after the incident. Jackson was blacklisted by MTV and VH1’s parent company Viacom (now Paramount Global), according to Rolling Stone, and she was uninvited to that year’s Grammys. Michael Powell of the Federal Communications Commission called it a “classless, crass and deplorable stunt.”
Lukas also appears on the A&E documentary, where Jackson says she is “very good friends” with Timberlake. “He and I have moved on, and it’s time for everyone else to do the same,” she says.
That’s hard for Lukas to do in light of how much blame he has shouldered. Lukas was asked by Jackson’s team not to comment on the incident when it happened, and he was asked not to speak about it for the A&E documentary, which was produced by Janet and her brother, Randy Jackson. Not speaking after the Super Bowl cost him a job at Access HollywoodLucas says, the “next step of his career.”
It took him a few hours after the performance to realize things had gone wrong. He got the silent treatment from Jessica Simpson, who also performed at halftime, and her family on a plane from Houston to Las Vegas. Once in his room, he called his message machine. “You’re a star, you’re a star – this is going to make you famous!” a friend said.
His mom said something different.
“My mother said, ‘I’m so ashamed of you. We’re so ashamed of you, ‘”Lukas says. “’My ladies from Bible study were watching the show. Our family was watching the show. ‘ I didn’t know why she was ashamed of me, but that’s the point when I started shaking, because something was going terrible wrong.
“Then the next phone call was the people who sold me the bodysuit that I changed into the snap-on bra, and they said, ‘You have ruined the reputation of this company. You’re never allowed to come here again, and you are disgusting and despicable. ‘ I didn’t know, but I was catching on … The TV was on, and every channel was Janet’s breast. It was like a war had broken out. “
All in a day’s work. It’s definitely not the end of the song for Lukas.
“I’m a kid from New Jersey,” he says, “who didn’t know his way, who didn’t know how this works, who made it happen.”