Part of celebrities’ jobs is attending galas, premieres, award shows, and launch parties. And while it’s undoubtedly fun (at least sometimes), there’s also certainly a work component to these events. Nearly all of them include a red carpet or otherwise being photographed by official press photographers, paparazzi, and, of course, fans.
Celebrities have to pick out the look they think is perfect for the event, which, after many of these events each year, can undoubtedly get challenging. Not only that, but there’s a lot of pressure on them to make regularly published “Best Dressed” lists, impress fans and critics alike, and take fashion risks with the hope that they’ll wow.
Some celebrities, however, take things a little bit (or a lot) too far. Here, some of the most over-the-top red carpet looks ever.
Madonna at the 2016 Met Gala
Madonna wore a very sheer Givenchy dress to the 2016 Met Gala, according to Elle. The gown exposed both her breasts and her butt, via cutouts. There were strategically placed straps of fabric to ensure that she didn’t overly expose herself, but the dress was undoubtedly revealing.
Following the event, the superstar posted on Instagram that the dress was “a political statement as well as a fashion statement.” She said she chose the gown because women of a certain age are discouraged from expressing their sexuality and taking fashion risks. The dress choice was intended to reject any ageist or sexist opinions that persist.
Cher at the 1986 Academy Awards
Cher was asked to present an award at the 1986 Academy Awards and, according to Harper’s Bazaar, she showed up in this over-the-top number. From the Bob Mackie headpiece to the bedazzled top and skirt to the cape or shawl she threw over it all, this look definitely turned heads. Not to mention she showed quite a bit more skin than we were probably used to in 1986.
Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy Awards
Lady Gaga’s had more than her fair share of show-stopping fashion moments on the red carpet, but the look she wore to the 2011 Grammy Awards show definitely ranks high on the list of her most over-the-top ever.
Lady Gaga walked — or, rather, was carried — the red carpet in an egg. According to Billboard, Lady Gaga told Jay Leno during an appearance on his show, that it was a temperature controlled “vessel” in which she spent three days. She hatched out of the egg (or, rather, emerged from the vessel) onstage during her Grammy performance. The rubber dress she ultimately wore to accept her award that night was designed by Thierry Mugler, Billboard reported.
Jennifer Lopez at the 2000 Grammy Awards
Few who watched the 2000 Grammy Awards show can forget the green dress that Jennifer Lopez wore the first year she was nominated for a Grammy, which, according to People, was designed by Versace. According to a blog post by Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google Image Search was invented as a result of that dress. People were searching for the dress, but couldn’t find a good picture. With the most plunging of necklines and nearly entirely sheer bottom, they had to see it for themselves.
Lady Gaga at the 2010 VMAs
In yet another over-the-top red carpet look, Lady Gaga wore her infamous dress, headpiece, and shoes all made out of raw meat to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). According to Billboard, in an interview with Ellen Degeneres on her talk show, it wasn’t meant to be a statement about animal rights, rather, it was a comment on the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and was in support of LGBTQ service members in the military.
Gaga said, “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.”
The dress has been preserved, according to Cosmopolitan UK, but doesn’t look quite as fresh as it did when she rocked it at the show.
Elle King at the 2016 CMAs
Elle King went with nearly full-fringe at the 2016 Country Music Awards. Her red, black, and gold look was somewhat matador-inspired, as E! News pointed out. King made several “Worst Dressed” lists as a result of this look. Fringe may equal country-western for some folks, but the amount of fringe seemed to turn critics off. While the folks at E! loved that she took a bold risk, it just didn’t pay off.
Toni Braxton at the 2001 Grammy Awards
Toni Braxton’s dress at the 2001 Grammy Awards might have been more “cape” or even “pieces of fabric” than dress. The gown, which EW reported was designed by Richard Tyler, featured two pieces of white or silvery fabric, held together (and kept from getting too revealing) by shimmery, glittery band at the hips. Braxton told People that the dress had built-in thong underwear, which helped keep it in place.
Joy Villa at the 2016 Grammy Awards
Joy Villa’s outfit at the 2016 Grammy Awards was part dress, part spiky, revealing underwear. According to HuffPost UK, which compared the ensemble to bones, there were a few very intentionally and strategically placed spikes (or bones) to help keep things relatively modest, along with a thong to prevent Villa from showing it all on the red carpet. It was an over-the-top, memorable look for sure. Make no bones about it.
Baddie Winkle at the 2016 VMAs
Baddie Winkle is 88 years old, but she doesn’t let that stop her from taking fashion risks. According to Us Magazine, Winkle’s “sparkly nude bodysuit” channeled Britney Spears’ similar outfit from the music video from “Toxic,” which was released in 2004. Winkle paired her daring look with a very sparkly cane, statement glasses and earrings, and a pair of starred, glitzy wedge booties. It’d be a little bit out-there for someone of any age, but that’s just Baddie.
Solange Knowles at the 2016 Met Gala
As Teen Vogue reported, Solange Knowles rocked a bright yellow dress on the red carpet at the 2016 Met Gala. The gown, designed by David Laport, was suggested by some to be a tribute to her sister Beyoncé after she released the smash-hit, “Lemonade.” Knowles paired her gown with yellow latex leggings and lucite heels. Chic, but over-the-top at the same time.
Z LaLa at the 2016 American Music Awards
American singer Z LaLa, who is sometimes compared to Lady Gaga, went a little bit too over-the-top when choosing her outfit for the 2016 American Music Awards. She landed herself on EW‘s “Worst Dressed” list for her latex and mesh outfit and gelled, sculpted hairstyle. The look was a little bit Maleficent, which earned perhaps more than her fair share of criticism.
Elena Lenina at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival
Elena Lenina, a Russian socialite and television star, attended the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, one of the year’s most notable events, decked out in hot pink and with her hair styled into a blond and pink-streaked heart piled high on her head, as reported by Mirror. Lenina paired the over-the-top hairdo (for which she’s famous — each year she turns heads at Cannes for her fantastical hairstyles) with a relatively understated silver sequined handbag. Wait and see how she wears her hair next.
Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala
Rihanna absolutely stunned in her marigold-colored over-the-top 2015 Met Gala gown. As Cosmopolitan reported, the gown took over two years to make from start to finish. The brocade, embroidered, fur-lined frock is undoubtedly a little bit excessive, but is also one of her most beautiful Met Gala looks ever.
Rihanna told Vanity Fair that it was designed by Chinese designer Guo Pei, which fit the theme of the event that year, which was “China: Through The Looking Glass.” And on top of it all? Rihanna finished her look with a golden headpiece, which was the perfect pairing with her scene-stealing gown.
Kendall Jenner at the 2017 Met Gala
Kendall Jenner attended the 2017 Met Gala in, well, mostly underwear. Her glittery slip was designed by La Perla, in whose early 2017 lingerie campaign Jenner starred, as reported by Vogue. Other than the slip, Jenner donned a black thong, and that’s about it. The slip included an asymmetrical cutout across the front, the back was entirely open, and there was some darker fabric to ensure that she didn’t reveal too much of herself. The look was fairly well-received by critics, which goes to show, sometimes the over-the-top looks that might seem like they’re major fashion risks end up paying off.
Sally Kirkland at the 2007 Academy Awards
Sally Kirkland didn’t end up on many “Best Dressed” lists for her look at the 2007 Academy Awards. Kirkland wore a somewhat bizarre, loopy, multicolored caftan-type dress, which the Hollywood Reporter compared to Sesame Street’s Count Von Count and The New York Times compared to a destructive butterfly. According to The New York Times, the look was “made up by her cabala teacher.” Regardless, it is most certainly an over-the-top look.
Faith Hill at the 2002 Academy Awards
Faith Hill wore a frothy, rainbow-colored dress to walk the red carpet at the 2002 Academy Awards. According to InStyle, Hill’s rainbow gown was designed by Versace and she chose it at least partially in a nod to the fact that she’d be singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” later that night during the awards ceremony. Beyond being over-the-top, the dress screams early 2000s.
Nicki Minaj at the 2011 Grammy Awards
Nicki Minaj strutted her stuff on the red carpet at the 2011 Grammy Awards wearing a head-to-toe leopard print ensemble. Minaj joked with Us Magazine that the leopard-looking wig she was wearing on her head was her real hair and that if she hits a button her hair grows in height and if she hits another, it’ll change color. It’s only one of Minaj’s most over-the-top Grammy Awards looks, but it’s definitely not the last that makes a statement.
Nicki Minaj at the 2012 Grammy Awards
As reported by Marie Claire, Nicki Minaj went way over-the-top when she walked the red carpet at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony. Minaj wore a bright red robe that covered her head as well as her entire body and brought a Catholic Pope lookalike to walk alongside her. If that’s not over-the-top, I’m not entirely sure what is. It was, unsurprisingly, also more than a little bit controversial.
Lady Gaga at the 2010 Grammy Awards
Wearing a gown with a high-low hemline before they were popular, Lady Gaga walked the red carpet at the 2010 Grammy Awards ceremony wearing an ethereal, frothy gown with a very high hemline in the front “and its own solar system,” as Glamour reported. The gown, designed by Armani Prive, was futuristic and distinctly Gaga. True to herself, she wore a whole series of designs by Armani that night, but this iridescent one was the first of the evening.
Rita Ora at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscars Party
Each year, Vanity Fair throws a party to celebrate the Academy Awards. The star-studded event is also fashion-forward. At the 2015 soirée, singer Rita Ora stunned in a dramatic black dress with full-body mesh panels that was designed by Donna Karan Atelier, as reported by Business Insider. The dress was undoubtedly a risky choice, but Ora looked chic. The curve-hugging mesh definitely makes this look over-the-top.
Irina Shayk at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscars Party
Ora wasn’t the only one who chose a black, sheer, full-body, long-sleeved number. Russian model Irina Shayk rocked a partially sheer, jewel-studded gown to the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscars Party. According to Business Insider, the gown was designed by Atelier Versace and was only sheer down one side. There were also jewel-studded tights that were incorporated into the design of the dress, which allowed Shayk to move around relatively comfortably. Talk about over-the-top.
Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2015 Met Gala
Sarah Jessica Parker is known for taking risks when it comes to fashion, but her 2015 Met Gala look went even further than some of her other looks in the past. Parker told Cosmopolitan that the headpiece, which looks like it incorporates both flames and tassels, was designed by famous haberdasher Philip Treacy. The dress, which complements the headpiece, was actually designed in part by Parker. It combines hand-embroidered poppies with vintage and reused fabrics that H&M found in Sweden, and a one-shouldered, long-sleeve, flattering cut. It’s risky, yet elegant, just like Sarah Jessica Parker herself.
Da Brat at the 2003 BET Awards
According to POPSUGAR Australia, Da Brat’s outfit that she wore to the 2003 BET Awards definitely qualifies as over-the-top. Her hair was styled into a high ponytail, secured with many multi-colored scrunchies. Her outfit was decorated with the characters from popular TV cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. The front of her outfit included a broken zipper, which ended up being a somewhat revealing neckline, and she wore white sneakers. She finished it all off with a SpongeBob lunchbox instead of a handbag. A full-body SpongeBob outfit on a grown woman? Over-the-top for sure.
Beyonce at the 2015 Met Gala
Beyoncé arrived at the last minute to walk the red carpet at the 2015 Met Gala, according to Vanity Fair. The superstar wowed in a sheer Givenchy gown with intentionally-placed jewels and gems. She paired the dress with a chic high ponytail and a pair of killer heels. The dress was controversial because, though it was a beautiful dress, some critics argued whether or not it fit the theme, which was “China: Through The Looking Glass.” Whether or not it fit the theme, it was a stunning, yet over-the-top look.
Sandra Lee at the 2014 Met Gala
Sandra Lee, who’s written her own books on cooking and entertaining and starred in television shows and specials on the same subjects on Food Network, arrived at the 2014 Met Gala ready to walk the red carpet in a very voluminous gown. Lee posted on Twitter that her gown, which was a silvery gray and also featured matching gloves, was designed by Dara Lamb (via Bustle). The gown made many “Worst Dressed” lists, with many critics noting that the dress was enormous (likened to marshmallow fluff, even). It definitely turned heads.
Lizzy Gardiner at the 1995 Academy Awards
Costume designer Lizzy Gardiner went truly over-the-top when she walked the red carpet at the 1995 Academy Awards ceremony in a column gown made from gold credit cards. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cards were all American Express Gold Cards, but it’s uncertain what statement, exactly, the dress was intended to make. Gardiner topped off the look with a golden wrap and headband. The all-gold ensemble matched the award she won that night.
Halle Berry at the 2002 Academy Awards
It was perhaps Halle Berry’s most famous red carpet dress ever. The dress she wore to the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony — where she took home the Best Actress award for her role in Monster’s Ball — was a gown with a sheer, embroidered top and a draped skirt by Elie Saab, as reported by InStyle. The gown was gorgeous, but a bit over-the-top compared to what was normally worn to award shows in the early 2000s. There were some one-off over-the-top looks before that, and there were plenty after, but this gown is iconic.
Rihanna at the 2015 Grammy Awards
Rihanna wowed in a pretty pink number at the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony. According to Marie Claire, the dress was designed by Giambattista Valli. While the dress wasn’t really all that out there, its layers and layers of ruffled, tulle-like flounce definitely makes it a little bit over-the-top and more than a little bit reminiscent of pink cotton candy.
Uma Thurman at the 2004 Academy Awards
Uma Thurman confused fans and critics alike when she appeared on the red carpet at the 2004 Academy Awards ceremony. Her dress, which, as InStyle reported, was designed by Christian Lacroix, drew comparisons to Swiss Miss. Ouch. Thurman told InStyle that it was a lovely gown, but she accidentally wore it wrong, which is why it looked the way it did on her on the red carpet. Not great.
Bjork at the 2001 Academy Awards
Who can forget Björk’s infamous swan dress that she wore to the 2001 Academy Awards? According to InStyle, the get-up was a Marjan Pejoski look, with golden eggs that dropped behind her that were designed by her boyfriend, artist Matthew Barney. It just might be the most memorable (and perhaps parodied) Academy Awards look of all time, but unfortunately the look wasn’t exactly the golden egg she was hoping for.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
The pressure on celebrities to pick the right dress can be enormous and sometimes they get a little bit carried away. Not all dresses (or other outfits) that could be considered over-the-top, however, are bad choices. Some are stunning gowns, yet their volume, color, pattern, or decorations make them risky choices, enduring in public memory for many years to come.