Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl Stylist Explains What Went Wrong During Her “Wardrobe Malfunction”

It turns out the "wardrobe malfunction" was actually more of a production error

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during The Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during The Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show at Reliant Stadium in Houston

As we gear up for the Super Bowl this weekend, it’s the perfect time to revisit some of the more memorable halftime show performances from the past. Of course, there’s no halftime show more infamous than Janet Jackson’s 2004 set with Justin Timberlake — dubbed “Nipplegate” thanks to an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction that led to Jackson being unfairly maligned and blacklisted while Timberlake suffered no consequences.

But according to Jackson’s stylist at the time, Wayne Scot Lukas, the incident wasn’t so much a wardrobe malfunction as it was a production error. Lukas recently spoke to Yahoo about what was originally planned for the performance and what exactly went wrong.

According to Lukas, the original plan was for Timberlake to step on Jackson’s skirt and expose her butt at the end of the performance instead of her breast. However, the singer pushed back and the costume was changed to pants to allow her more modesty.

“Janet decided she didn’t want to be so bare on stage,” he said. “So she asked me, ‘Can you recut my pants and put me in these pants underneath something?’ She handed me a pair of Juicy Couture sweatpants. I looked at her and I said, ‘Janet, you can’t be in Juicy Couture sweatpants on the Super Bowl stage.’ She goes, ‘Lukas, this is what I feel comfortable in right now. I don’t want to flash my body. I just want to be covered.’ The outfit changed because Janet wanted to wear pants.”

Instead, he insists, the plan was for the cameras to “cut to black” at the end of the performance right as Timberlake moved towards Jackson’s chest. After that, the cameras were supposed to cut away to shots of fireworks.

“You were supposed to be like, ‘What just happened?’ That’s not what [producers] did,” Lukas said. “In Janet’s case, the top came off, the camera lingered on her and it stayed on her. … The light should have immediately went down. You choreograph these things so importantly to protect your star.”

“I don’t know really know how far it was supposed to go, but you weren’t supposed to see it,” he added. “That was never supposed to be something you saw. I call it the most functioning wardrobe in history. That’s what I call it.”

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