The Most Over-the-Top Celebrity VMA Awards Looks

The 2023 MTV VMAs are just around the corner, and obviously, this year’s ceremony will be unlike any other. Hosted by the incredible Nicki Minaj, this year’s show has a packed schedule with a number of memorable performances including Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Anitta, Doja Cat, Olivia Rodrigo, Demi Lovato and many others. To wrap up the show, tonight’s VMAs will also have a 50th anniversary salute to hip-hop with LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Darryl “DMC” Daniels and Doug E. Fresh.

So, in honor of all the star-studded night ahead, we’re taking a deep dive down memory lane with the craziest VMA looks since 1984 — you know, like that time Lady Gaga showed up wearing pieces of raw meat.

As you’ll soon see, the VMAs are a place to push fashion to new heights and embrace drama on every level. Starting from 1984, here are all the VMAs looks we just couldn’t forget.

A version of this story was originally published in 2020. 

The Backstreet Boys, 1998

The whole gang is here — and looking like they got very different memos about that night’s look.

Lil’ Kim, 1999

If a bright purple sequined jumpsuit wasn’t showstopping enough, Lil’ Kim turned up the volume in 1999 with this jumpsuit that only covered half of her chest, with the other half being only covered by a matching nipple cover.

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Pink, 2000

We know Pink was just finding her signature style, but her cutout low-waisted pants, gold heels and gold cropped top was definitely not a crowd-pleaser.

Jennifer Lopez, 2006

We know Jennifer Lopez loves her neutrals, but these shiny tall boots and head wrap were, for some, just a step too far.

Lil Mama, 2007

This baby-turned-red-carpet look (pacifier and all) was quite the fashion statement.

Rihanna, 2007

This is as close to not-best-dressed as Rihanna looks, and it’s still pretty great — just not quite the style we know and love.

Katy Perry & Miley Cyrus, 2008

Katy Perry’s bedazzled Wonder Woman-esque is just as surprising as Miley Cyrus’ drop-waist look.

Pink, 2008

Pink’s got her signature hair here, but it looks like her signature style hasn’t yet kicked in.

Lady Gaga, 2010

We love Gaga. But when it comes to her 2010 array of VMAs fashion, we’re going back and forth.

Lady Gaga, 2010

And there it is. Meat from the top of her head to the soles of her feet.

Cher, 2010

A leather jacket, leather thigh-high boots, and…well, about as little as one can be wearing without being naked underneath.

Nicki Minaj, 2011

Nicki will do Nicki, no matter what. But this toy-inspired get-up had even the hardcore barbs scratching their heads.

Jennifer Lopez, 2013

No one’s arguing Jennifer Lopez doesn’t look incredible here, but not everyone was on board with her many cutouts.

Miley Cyrus, 2015

Miley Cyrus showed off her body in these barely-there overalls in 2015, but is it a little too much for the carpet?

Rita Ora, 2016

Rita Ora is serving us feather duster meets lingerie — plus a sensible light jacket, in case she catches a chill.

Stella Maxwell, 2016

Stella Maxwell boldly rocked the bell-bottom trend with this *very* elaborate matching set.

Nicki Minaj, 2017

This is Nicki serving full Harajuku Barbie realness, and it’s more Pepto Bismol-colored latex than we’ve ever seen in one place before.

Madonna, 2018

Madonna’s North African-inspired ensemble may have come from a good place, but viewers agreed they were getting mixed messages.

Nicki Minaj, 2018

Nicki Minaj proved long skirts can be revealing too with this sheer tulle number and a high-cut bodysuit.

Lil Nas X, 2019

Lil Nas X may have crushed the charts with unforgettably catchy “Old Town Road,” but we’re ever-so-slightly blinded by this all-red cowboy ensemble.

Lady Gaga, 2020

Lady Gaga couldn’t let a VMA carpet go by without another one of her controversial looks in this space-inspired silver dress.

Kacey Musgraves, 2021

Kacey Musgraves’ feathered headdress was definitely turning heads in this dramatic return to the red carpet.

Justin Bieber, 2021

Justin Bieber, left, and Giveon accept the award for best pop song for "Peaches" at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Just because this wasn’t on the red carpet doesn’t mean we can forgive it.

Before you go, click here to see the most shocking Grammy awards red carpet looks of all time.

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