Celebrity Style

15 VMAs Red Carpet Moments Everyone's Still Talking About

From snakes as accessories to sparkly purple pasties.

Originally Published: 
Lizzo on the VMAs red carpet
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The MTV Video Music Awards is easily the most unconventional awards show in the history of award shows. It seems like anything can happen at the VMAs, and that’s especially true on the fashion front. At the Oscars, you get black tie tuxedos and couture ball gowns. At the VMAS, you get nipple pasties and meat dresses. And honestly, that’s the entire reason fans watch in the first place.

With the 2020 VMAs just around the corner, it's time to take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of the most iconic fashion moments from the show’s history. The VMAs have been taking place every year since 1984, which means there were a lot of looks to sort through.

Unfortunately, there will be no traditional red carpet this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the show must go on, and if years past are any indication, the virtual nature of the show probably won’t stop your favorite style stars from making some kind of bold sartorial statement. Who knows? Maybe they’ll take a couple cues from the icons who came before them.

Ahead, check out all the VMA ensembles that fans can't stop talking about, even today.


Jasmine Guy

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The year was 1989, and A Different World star Jasmine Guy stepped out in fiery red sequined mini dress, complete with color-coordinating heels and accessories. That micro purse is still on trend today.


Queen Latifah

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The trailblazing MC was a presenter for Best Rap Video at the 1990 VMAs, and she looked casual-cool in a printed jumpsuit with a matching hat. Also, sandals for comfort. Genius.


Halle Berry

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In 1992, the movie star wore a black lace bra layered underneath a chic black suit. She pinned a red ribbon to her blazer to commemorate the ongoing AIDS crisis at the time.


Mariah Carey

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With that daring slit and those strappy stilettos, this entire ensemble became instantly iconic the moment she stepped on the red carpet in 1997.


Rose McGowan

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In 1998, she embraced the visible thong trend to make a strong statement about sexual assault. On her arm was then-boyfriend, singer Marilyn Manson.


Lil Kim

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It was a fashion moment for the ages when the rapper walked the red carpet at the 1999 VMAs in a sparkly purple jumpsuit and a matching pasty over her left nipple. The coordinating wig and platform heels pulled the entire look together flawlessly.


Jennifer Lopez

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At the 2000 VMAs, J.Lo stepped out in an all-white look by Sean John, the label founded by her boyfriend at the time, Puff Daddy. The bedazzled bandana and hoop earrings really set off this Jenny-from-the-block outfit.


Destiny's Child

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The trio coordinated in fringed-out, orange-and-turquoise ensembles designed by Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, at the 2001 VMAs. You can't help but miss their matching red carpet outfits today.


Britney Spears

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The yellow Burmese python. The barely-there green crop top. The bejeweled belly button. What more needs to be said? This was a defining moment in fashion and pop culture history that found new relevance this year by way of "Tiger King"'s Don Antle.


Lady Gaga

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Whether you loved it, hated it, or were just downright confused by it, the superstar’s infamous raw meat dress at the 2010 VMAs got everyone talking. We’d just like to know how that matching hairpiece (yes, also made out of meat) stayed on her head.



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We love pixie haircut-era Rihanna. Before she dominated the world with Fenty everything, she graced us with an appearance at the 2012 VMAs where she wore a sleek backless white dress on the red carpet.



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In 2013, Ciara served up her best goddess glam in a gorgeous floor-length gown. From the ornate sequin work to the romantic, floor-grazing feathers, fans couldn't get enough.



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At the 2014 VMAs, Solange wore a glittery two piece suit on the red carpet. She was there to support her big sister Beyoncé, who was accepting the Video Vanguard Award that year.



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The sequins! The feathers! The earrings! Bey looked a literal angel at the 2016 VMAs, where she stepped out in a dreamy pale blue gown with plenty of embellishment.



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More sequins, more feathers. Sensing a theme? In 2019, Lizzo donned a strapless red gown emblazoned with the word “siren” across the front, and accessorized with a bold red feather boa and a teardrop diamond necklace.

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