March 13, 2000 12:00 PM

I’m just trying to be loud, that’s all!” best new artist nominee Macy Gray exulted over her vibrant Perry White coat. No wonder. “With veteran guitarist Carlos Santana scooping up eight trophies at the Grammys, held Feb. 23 at L.A.’s Staples Center, the only real contest was whether any getup could generate more gasping and gaping than Jennifer Lopez‘s slashed-down-to-there gown.

The answer was…no. That’s not to say there wasn’t a slew of racy runners-up, though. In a strong bid for the night’s sharpest garb, rapper Missy Elliott appeared in a purple Versace pantsuit adorned with designer razor blades. Joked Elliott: “I can use them to shave my legs!” Garbage singer Shirley Manson also had friendly competition in mind when she teamed a naughty-schoolgirl plaid kilt with a Vivienne Westwood blouse. “I’m showing Britney Spears how it really should be done,” she teased. As for how it shouldn’t be done, some found out the hard way. “This dress weighs more than I do,” best new artist Christina Aguilera complained of her chain-mail Versace. “I definitely need a massage.”

But first there was partying to do. At the Sony bash at Spago, guests munched on tuna tartare and lobster while rubbing shoulders with honoree Elton John. “I just saw Ricky Martin!” squealed Ally McBeal’s Jane Krakowski, who had poured herself into shiny red leather pants and matching top by Christina Perrin. “I was too shy to talk to him.” Crooner Pat Boone had bolder intentions. “I’d like to meet some of the younger stars,” he quipped, “and tell them who I am.”

Julie K.L. Dam

Kelly Carter, Steven Cojocaru, Alison Gee and Gabrielle Saveri in L.A.

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