Courtesy of Getty Images

9 iconic outfits from the vmas

A special edition in celebration of MTV's annual awards show, where the only thing more wild than the performances are the looks.

by Brittany Natale
27 August 2019, 8:56am

Courtesy of Getty Images

Since the first Video Music Awards in 1984, MTV’s annual award show has brought together the best in entertainment for a night of music, dance, and, more often than not, unexpected moments. But in addition to shocking performances, its red carpet provides an opportunity for celebrities to show off their wildest looks.

From Pamela Anderson’s unforgettable pink fur cowboy hat to Jennifer Lopez’s all white ensemble, the VMA’s have produced some of the most memorable moments in fashion. i-D takes a look at some of them:

Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson made red carpet history when she showed up to the 1999 MTV VMA’s dressed in sequinned pants, a white lace bustier, and a larger-than-life furry pink cowboy hat. Nearly two decades later this iconic awards show look was recreated by no other than Kim Kardashian for Halloween in 2018. It is no surprise that Anderson’s past fashion choices are still replicated to this day -- the Baywatch actress has been influencing the fashion industry and beyond for over three decades now. Known for her bombshell looks and ever-evolving style, Anderson has been the muse of many designers; she was even the face of Vivienne Westwood’s SS17 campaign shot by renowned photographer Juergen Teller.

Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Lil’ Kim
Music icons Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Lil’ Kim posed for photos dressed in complementary sequinned costumes while attending the MTV VMA’s in 1997. That night the two rappers performed a remix of Lil’ Kim’s hit song, “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” which featured other well-known artists such as Missy Elliott, Da Brat and Angie Martinez. If Lopes’s outfit looks particularly familiar it is because some believe it was a source of inspiration for Beyonce’s 2015 Met Gala look which featured similar sequin and bead detailing.

Rose McGowan
Powerfully baring it all, actress Rose McGowan wore a totally see-through dress paired with a sparkly black thong while walking the 1998 VMA’s red carpet with then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson. Made up entirely of small, intricately threaded beads, the dress was not only a fashion statement but a political statement as well: McGowan stated years later during an interview that the ensemble’s purpose was to be a form of protest and a symbol of self-empowerment.

Missy Elliott
The iconic Missy Elliott put a spin on one of her most signature looks -- the tracksuit -- while attending the 2003 VMA’s. Dressed in a golf-inspired Adidas plaid suit with a matching cap and shoes, Elliott walked away that night with Best Video award for “Work It”, beating out Eminem, Johnny Cash, 50 Cent, and Justin Timberlake. This year she will be celebrated at the VMA’s once more as she is the recipient of the 2019 MTV VMA Video Vanguard Award.

1566829968132-GettyImages-80089979Photo by Barry King/WireImage

Cyndi Lauper
Mismatched accessories, eccentric prints, loud colours, and unexpected detailing have all been the foundation of pop superstar Cyndi Lauper’s lauded style since she burst onto the airwaves nearly 40 years ago. In addition to her clothing, the native New Yorker’s hair and makeup, which has famously included neon dye jobs and brightly coloured lipsticks, has also acted as an extension of her legendary image. Lauper was able to first develop her fashion sense years earlier while working at Screaming Mimi’s, a famous vintage shop on the Upper West Side of New York City. The shop, which has since moved to Manhattan’s East Village, is most known for their extensive selection of vintage clothing and accessories -- including rare Gaultier from the 80s, and 90s Prada handbags.

Photo by Brenda Chase/Online USA, Inc.

David Bowie and Iman
When superstar model Iman and David Bowie arrived to the 1999 VMA’s they did not disappoint. Wearing a floral bustier gown paired with a beaded handbag, Iman was a vision of elegance, while Bowie exuded an air of cool in a pared down navy number with matching tinted glasses. Throughout the years, the creative couple become known for their signature styles and one-in-a-million personalities: Iman often worked with Gianni Versace, Halston and Calvin Klein, with designer Yves St. Laurent once famously referring to her as his “dream woman”. Bowie, on the other hand, continuously broke fashion boundaries through his stage costumes. Style stars seemed to have aligned when the powerhouse couple met years earlier after being introduced at a dinner party.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

The inimitable Prince sat with wife, choreographer and dancer Mayte Garcia, in matching blue outfits while attending the 1999 MTV VMA’s at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House. Prince -- known as much for his gender-blurring style as his era-transcending music -- often wore bedazzled blazers, frilled collars, heeled boots, and colourful suits, creating a fashion genre all his own. Later that night he would take to the stage to introduce TLC before their performance of “No Scrubs”.

Photo by David McGough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Madonna at the first ever VMAs
Madonna made headlines everywhere when she debuted her hit single “Like a Virgin” at the very first VMAs in 1984. During an appearance that made history, Madonna danced atop a larger-than-life wedding cake wearing a white lace bustier, armfuls of rubber bracelets, pearls, crucifixes, and her famous Boy Toy belt buckle. Her mid-80s style was partly down to stylist and jewellery designer Maripol, who has also worked with the likes of Grace Jones, John-Michel Basquiat, Elton John, Debbie Harry, and Cher.

Jennifer Lopez
From sheer Versace dresses to Chanel ball gowns, Jennifer Lopez’s evolutionary style has checked off every box throughout the years. For the 2000 VMA’s, Lopez proved she could pull off any outfit when she arrived in an all-white getup featuring a white bandana, white Sean John crop top, a diamond chain link belt, and a nameplate necklace. The 2019 CFDA Fashion Icon Award recipient went on that evening to win Best Dance Video for “Waiting for Tonight”.

This article originally appeared on i-D US.

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7 Iconic Outfits