Katy Perry on how her ‘American Idol’ finale ‘biggest skirt ever’ featured 168 contestants’ faces and was created in just ‘days’

Published On May 23, 2024 » By »
Katy Perry performs in a custom skirt decorated with faces of the top 24 contestants from her seven seasons on 'American Idol.'
(Photo : ABC) Katy Perry performs in a custom skirt decorated with faces of the top 24 contestants from her seven seasons on ‘American Idol.’

When Katy Perry gave her last American Idol performance on Sunday’s Season 22 finale, she celebrated third-place contestant Jack Blocker, who she’d once doubted, by dueting with him on her song “What Makes a Woman.” She even let him rewrite one of the verses.

“I never dreamed of getting to sing a song with her, especially 20 feet up in the air,” Blocker chucklingly told Lyndsanity after the show. “It was just crazy-cool, and something I’ll hang on to for a real long time.”

But if viewers looked closely at the bespoke, 20-foot hoop skirt Perry wore for that number, they would have noticed that she was celebrating contestants from every single season of her Idol run.


“[Producers] were like, ‘Oh, do you want to use a lift?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, why not, let’s use a lift.’ And then it was just going to be a pretty skirt with a silver top, and I was like, ‘No, let’s do something. Let’s make a moment. Let’s pay homage to all the contestants,” Perry explained. “So, that was all seven season of the top 24. I’m not going to do the math, but they were all there, represented. Even seeing [Season 19 runner-up] Willie [Spence, who died in 2022], it was so beautiful. It was just to show how much these kids have really lifted me up.”

For those doing the math, that adds up to 168 contestants printed on Perry’s hydraulic garment, which Perry and her longtime costumer, Heather Picchiottino, created in “days” after Perry came up with the design concept in the week leading up to the May 19 finale. “It was just one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas, and we were like, ‘Can we do this? Can we execute this in time?’” Perry admitted. “Because at first it was like, ‘It’ll just be a skirt and you’ll just be on it,’ and I was like, ‘No, no, no, I want the biggest skirt ever! And then I want to keep rising! I want hula-hoops built into it!’ And they did it.”

Can you recognize all of the faces on Katy Perry's 'American Idol' farewell performance skirt?
(Photo : ABC) Can you recognize all of the faces on Katy Perry’s ‘American Idol’ farewell performance skirt?

Perry has never shied from a major Idol style moment, even if there’s a risk of a wardrobe malfunction; she cited her “gaffer tape on my butt” pants-splitting incident, which was “right after I’d had a baby and things were kind of fitting,” as her funniest televised fashion faux pas. And now that she’s leaving the show, she has stored all of her iconic Idol outfits — including her annual traditional Disney Night costumes and the controversial satin “Adam Lambert” cape she wore in support of her pal Lambert when she was a guest performer on his season 15 years ago — “in a warehouse, close to LAX. Temperature-controlled, with photographs, in an electronic system. I don’t know if anyone’s going to want them, ever, but they’re there.”

Joking that she’s “leaving [American Idol] before I can get fired,” Perry listed her criteria for the judge that will replace her next year, stressing substance over style. “The qualities I hope for are someone that is honest, someone that is constructive with their words, someone that is leading with their heart — really heart-centered, and less ego — who isn’t afraid to speak their mind and isn’t afraid if sometimes that’s polarizing,” she said. “Someone who isn’t afraid of negative comments, and isn’t afraid of getting booed, just as long as they are speaking their mind and being true to themselves.”

Katy Perry and Jack Blocker share a moment, 20 feet above the 'American Idol' audience.
(Photo : ABC) Katy Perry and Jack Blocker share a moment, 20 feet above the ‘American Idol’ audience.

And while Perry confessed that leaving Idol felt “bittersweet,” she said that having one of those talented 168 singers on her skirt, Abi Cater, win Sunday was “the cherry-on-top for my season. It just felt like, ‘Oh, we’ve landed exactly where we [should]. We work so hard to get authenticity. … Now the show feels more artist-driven. The top three, two of them recorded their own songs for their singles, which means they have publishing. They have a fair deal; they’re not just signing their lives away. So, it feels like real musicians, singer-songwriter-friendly. That’s what we tried to bring. That’s what we always tried to have come to us. We loved when we got kids from Berklee; we loved it so much. We just wanted it to be authentic, and I think it truly is.

“I think [American Idol] actually is still one of the only shows that makes stars, or opens doors on that path of stardom,” Perry concluded. “Everyone else is a loser. Everyone else is just faking it.”


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