The 27-year-old wore a gown by LA-based Ukrainian design house, Lever Couture, which featured a voluminous arc that went over and behind her head.
Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems may have, quite literally, stolen the show at the 2023 Oscars by blocking the view of those sitting behind and around her. According to the Los Angeles Times, Tems' massive, view-obstructing, cloud-like gown garnered sartorial praise, memes, and accusations of disrespect on social media after glimpses of her seated mid-row in the Dolby Theatre emerged online.
"I'm cryinnnnnnn," music producer Alex Medina tweeted, sharing a TV clip of a woman behind Tems peeking around the garment. "Tems got that lady fighting for her life."
The 27-year-old artist was nominated for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) alongside Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Göransson for the "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" track "Lift Me Up." She arrived at the event on March 12, 2023, rocking a white, delicate tulle gown with a voluminous arc that went over and behind her head. The outfit was reportedly made by LA-based Ukrainian design house Lever Couture and styled by Dunsin Wright.
As exquisite as the dress—which was displayed during Rakuten Fashion Week in Tokyo in September 2022—is, it stirred up plenty of reactions on social media as it could be seen blocking the view of numerous Oscars attendees in aerial shots inside the Dolby Theater when cameras panned across the room.
"You just know the person sitting behind her is so pissed," tweeted BuzzFeed writer David Mack. "Imagine the person sitting behind Tems all through the Oscars, definitely feel some kind of way. Like 'this is disrespectful,'" wrote @JoshToritseju.
I’m cryinnnnnnn— alex medina (@mrmedina) March 13, 2023
tems got that lady fighting for her life pic.twitter.com/Js06VdbyyU
POV: You’re sitting behind Tems at the Oscars pic.twitter.com/I36RqsE5pf— Danielle Pinnock (@bodycourage) March 13, 2023
you know what's even funnier? every picture of tems from this event you see, she looks purely unbothered 😂 https://t.co/hc87RcDOCI— janet meziem (@meziemjanet) March 13, 2023
LMFAO I know whoever behind Tems is heated. https://t.co/jmU2Kz6mN9— ....... (@PrinceHAK33M) March 13, 2023
"Imagine waiting your whole life to be at the Oscars and you end up sitting behind a stratus cloud," tweeted writer Jarrett Bellini. Meanwhile, many defended the singer. "Someone wore a duvet to an event a few days ago but Tems' dress is where you all draw the line. Nonsense," said @Olamide0fficial. "Tems didn't win any Oscars but she's still the conversation topic of the event, a queen," chimed in @iamvinicius_snr.
I don't see anything wrong with Tems dress, that dress represents represents an existential imbroglio that engenders interminable tussles for supremacy, while inexorably exacerbating societal schisms and the tenuous equilibrium between erstwhile homogenous cultural identities.… https://t.co/Tu0MngXO9J— Wolfie 🐺 (@TheIgboWolf) March 13, 2023
Tems dress was beautiful.— Bibi, Bolouere (@boluxxxx) March 13, 2023
Tems is drop dead gorgeous.
Tems is my star girl and all that.
Tems blocking people’s views with her dress was inconsiderate.
People pointing that out is not racism as long as they aren’t using derogatory language.
Humans need to be more honest.
The Grammy winner addressed the fuss around her dress by tweeting a simple "Ooops," along with some glamour shots showing off her gown. Tems is on a mission to take over the music industry by storm. The leader of the "Rebel Gang"—as her fans call themselves—is determined to keep things light-hearted while pursuing her love for music.
"I'm literally just trying to chill. You see me here drinking tea. This is like my second water," she told OkayAfrica. "Music is my happy place. Music is the only thing that makes me feel truly at home. If I'm sad, it's the only thing I can run to. If someone says to me 'here are a billion dollars, just chill' I would still do music. I mean, I'd collect the billion dollars and then do music. [Laughs] That's how bad it is. That's how much I love it."
According to Insider, the song "Naatu Naatu" from the Telugu-language film "RRR" made history by becoming the first Indian song to win an Oscar. "Applause" from "Tell It Like a Woman," "Hold My Hand" from "Top Gun: Maverick," "Lift Me Up" from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and "This Is a Life" from "Everything Everywhere All at Once" were also nominated for best original song.