Janelle Monae is smarter than me.

I know. I’m not surprised either. And yet. 

I’ve been loving how much Janelle Monae we’ve gotten this awards season, the double-dip of having her in two big showy casts. I love her pattern of speaking, I love her excitement-crossed-with-demure attitude, and who are we kidding, I LOVE her aesthetic. Lainey commented the other day that we were going to fight over covering her, and I was ready to battle.

But when I first saw Janelle’s Oscar dress, with its intricate patterns and Marie Antoinette styling and the… I don’t know, frenetic pace of the bodice (hire me, fashion magazines of 2004!), I thought it was too much. I thought we wouldn’t get a chance to appreciate it. 

And you know, it’s true. The red carpets are insane and crowded and an assault on the senses, and even her own Boomerangs or Instagrams only show a piece of the puzzle. “Sometimes maybe you have to tone down all the things that are going on,” I thought to myself, as though I knew.

But Janelle Monae is smarter than me.

Because when she stood up on the stage with Octavia and Taraji and Katherine Jackson, she was still. We could look at her. Admire her. Take it in. She knew!

She knew that was a dress that required her to stand in front of you, not moving, while you took it in… and she proved it again when the cast of Moonlight took to the stage. 

It’s a crazy electric soup of people whose adrenaline is through the roof, and half the La La Land cast is still kind of milling around on the sidelines. It’s like looking at a group of bees, all moving at once.

Except Janelle Monae.

She is still. She is standing on the stage and your eyes go right to her, and just start drinking in every little detail. The bodice. The incredible striations in the skirt. How much bustle there must be. All while she just serenely looks back out at you and lets you look.

Her Vanity Fair look is less singular, but still very Janelle Monae—and she’s the one I think we’re going to miss most, post-awards season. Having been given a double ‘dose’ of her this year, I feel like we’re now conditioned to want more… so what’s it going to be?