03/16/1998 at 01:00 AM EST
AFTER PERFORMING THE HIT SINGLE "GETTIN' JIGGY WIT IT" AT THE 40TH ANNUAL Grammy Awards, Men in Black star Will Smith defined the rap term: "Jiggy is like the next level of cool," he said. "When you exude jiggyessence, when you are truly jigged out, that is the pinnacle, the acme of cool."
By that standard, the 1998 Grammys, handed out at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall on Feb. 25 and celebrated with a string of lavish post-show record-label blowouts, was nothing less than a jiggynaut. The number of awards mushroomed this year—j there were 882 nominees in 92 categories (up from 823 "nominees and 89 categories in '97)—and the stars' fashion statements kept pace. Fiona Apple's strapless apple-patterned dress began life as a skirt belonging to jazz giant Ella Fitzgerald. "I bought it at her estate sale," said Apple, who won best female rock vocalist honors, "and had it made into a dress." R. Kelly's audacious Shawna Tisdale and Troy Johnson snakeskin suit got double exposure on TV "The movie Anaconda kind of inspired me to wear it," said the balladeer, who copped three awards for "I Believe I Can Fly." A pale-faced Bob Dylan, also honored with a trio of Grammys, looked downright dapper in a gray silk suit. Even Wu-Tang Clan's 01' Dirty Bastard, who leapt onstage to plead for a brighter spotlight on rap ("I didn't mean any disrespect," he said later), stopped the show in style in red-velvet Versace.
The evening's most celebrated nonmusical guest, Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinski, 15, was tastefully dressed down in a simple black DKNY and joined Boyz II Men in announcing the best pop album winner, James Taylor. Ever the ice princess, Lipinski wore a $40,000, 12.62-carat diamond necklace in place of the gold medal she won in Nagano. "De Beers," she said, referring to the sparkler's owner. "I got it for tonight."
SABRINA MCFARLAND, SUE MILLER, REBECCA DAMERON, MARISA SANDORA and JOSEPH V. TIRELLA in New York City