Justin Timberlake helped 'set up' Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, says stylist

Timberlake pushed for the “wardrobe malfunction” in an attempt to outdo Britney Spears, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera, who had wowed the world months earlier by kissing at the MTV Video Music Awards


                            Justin Timberlake helped 'set up' Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, says stylist
Singers Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004, in Houston, Texas (Getty Images)

Wayne Scot Lukas, the stylist who prepped Janet Jackson for her infamous 2004 Super Bowl appearance with Justin Timberlake, said that Timberlake pushed for the “wardrobe malfunction” in an attempt to outdo Britney Spears, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera, who had wowed the world months earlier by kissing at the MTV Video Music Awards.

As the infamous halftime show culminated, Timberlake pulled off part of Jackson’s outfit, briefly exposing her right breast in front of a TV audience of 140 million viewers. Timberlake recently made an apology to Jackson. His manager Johnny Wright has claimed, “Janet has already forgiven Justin in private. They made their peace a long time ago.”

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In this screengrab, Justin Timberlake performs during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20, 2021. (Getty Images)

In fact, in a TV interview immediately after their performance, Timberlake suggested to 'Access Hollywood' that the nudity was planned. "It was fun. It was quick, slick, to the point," he said. When the show's host, Pat O'Brien said, "You guys were getting pretty hot and steamy up there,” Timberlake said, "Hey man, we love giving you all something to talk about.”

Lukas said that Timberlake “insisted on doing something bigger than their performance. He wanted a reveal.” He said that the original concept was for Jackson to be in a pearl G-string inspired by one that Kim Cattrall had worn in an episode of ‘Sex and the City’.

“Janet was going to be in a Rocha dress, and [Justin] was going to step on the back of her dress to reveal her butt in this pearl G-string,” he said, adding, “the outfit changed a couple of days before, and you saw the magic.”

Janet Jackson attends a GRAMMY event on January 25, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California (Getty Images) 

Even though Timberlake famously labeled the incident a “wardrobe malfunction”, Lukas said, “I wouldn’t call it a wardrobe ‘malfunction’ in a million years. It was the most functioning wardrobe in history. As a stylist, it did what it was intended to do.”

Lukas said that he was working on a tell-all book -- tentatively titled ‘Wardrobe Malfunctions: Receipts from the Front Lines and the Front Row’ -- in which he’ll tell that story in full for the first time. The book will reportedly also reveal other “dark secrets” from the worlds of fashion and show business.

In 2018, USA Today spoke to Marcello Garzon, a tailor, who said that Jackson asked him to alter the leather outfit she brought to Houston to wear during the halftime show. He was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before he altered the garment. 

Singers Janet Jackson and surprise guest Justin Timberlake perform during the infamous 2004 Super Bowl half-time show (Getty Images)

Salli Frattini, the first woman to produce a Super Bowl halftime show, said, “I don’t believe [Jackson] handled the situation as well as he did. I’m still not quite sure why anybody thought that (nudity) would be a good idea to do in the first place.”

Frattini said that the production team initially experimented with Timberlake pulling off Jackson’s skirt without involving nudity. The reveal was choreographed to take place as the song 'Rock Your Body' lyrics culminated with Timberlake singing “gonna have you naked by the end of this song.”

She said the idea was nixed, adding that she was convinced the idea that led to Jackson’s breast being exposed came from Jackson or Jackson’s stylist and was presented to Timberlake in Jackson’s dressing room.

“There was a meeting right prior to the halftime (show),’’ Frattini said. “The idea was pitched to Justin. Janet’s stylist or whoever else was in the room. (Timberlake) went along with it and the mistake happened. There wasn’t supposed to be any reveal. There should not even have been an action moment or anything ever ripped off her body.”

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