The VMAs have provided some of the most iconic red-carpet moments of all time. There’s something about the unseriousness of the award ceremony, which is hosted by MTV, that inspires celebrities to let down their guard and really have fun. It’s notably different from something like the Oscars or Cannes, where you probably wouldn’t see Saweetie dressed up in a just-walked-the-runway look from Area accented with giant, Flintstones-esque bones. As she told us on the red carpet, “Dress up, bitch, damn.”
Long gone are the days of Madonna wearing a white lace bustier dress with a “Boy Toy” belt, Sofia Coppola in a sheer nightgown layered over tiny black panties, or Rose McGowan in the naked dress that puts all of the other naked dresses to shame. Despite all the talk about personal style, the VMAs red-carpet outfits in 2023 feel a bit more online and trendy than ever before—but there were still some great custom runway looks from fashion girls like Anitta and Cardi B.
Below, the 10 best looks of the night.
Cardi B in Custom Dilara Findikoglu
What most people don’t realize is that Cardi B isn’t just that girl, she’s that fashion girl. Her look for tonight was a custom Dilara Findikoglu, altered slightly from the mini version last seen on the London Fashion Week runway in February. I’'s beautiful armor, like if someone tailored the Iron Throne.
Emily Ratajkowski in Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier
The VMAs already make people nostalgic for the award ceremonies of decades ago, and it would be fun to see more celebrities lean into that with archival looks from that era. Emily Ratajkowski understood the assignment in a colorful vintage Jean Paul Gaultier dress that feels of another time but was still totally her.
Anitta in Schiaparelli
Celebrities need to be wearing more of Daniel Roseberry's surrealist Schiaparelli on the red carpet! And if they're not sure why, all they need to do is look at Anitta. With a key hole cut-out exposing her midriff and mismatched earrings that look like clunky painted rocks, her outfit is the perfect mix of hot and weird. It's the kind of look you don't forget; the kind of look that makes you think.
Olivia Rodrigo in Custom Ludovic de Saint Sernin
Olivia Rodrigo's custom Ludovic de Saint Sernin gown features over 150,000 Swarovski crystals. The singer, whose album Guts came out this past Friday, frequently references the '90s and early '00s with her style. And her consistently low-key but glam looks on the red carpet nail the ease of that era in a way that feels far more authentic than the louder takes of some of her peers.
Måneskin in Rick Owens
Rick Owens is freaky sexiness at its finest, and finally, a band has realized how well that translates to the red carpet. Måneskin looks intimidatingly hot in Rick, and collectively prove a good pair of platform boots can be even better than your standard pump. It's a little surprising to see his looks in this context because they're so otherworldly, but whatever planet he's designing for does look like it would have far better award shows.
Megan Thee Stallion in Brandon Blackwood
A strapless transparent dress is a red carpet staple, but Meghan Thee Stallion's Brandon Blackwood one feels fresh thanks to the lines that mimics the boning of a corset.
Rita Ora in Rodarte
Rita Ora wore a black off-the-shoulder Rodarte dress from the brand's fall 2023 collection. The look has flowing long sleeves that droop like a dead lily, but the overall affect feels like bat wings. The Mulleavy sisters said the collection was inspired by "fairies," and Ora is certainly serving a dark emo fairy fantasy that's a little weird and witchy in the best way. Plus her glitter Marc Jacobs kiki boots add some nice spunk.
Madelyn Cline in Custom Givenchy
Madelyn Cline's nude custom Givenchy dress oozes a special kind of sex appeal. The fabric on top ruches and falls to her belly button, revealing a corseted top underneath, with her legs peaking through the opaque skirt on the bottom. It has all the impact of a naked dress without showing much skin at all.
Selena Gomez in Oscar de la Renta
Florals on the red carpet can sometimes skew too casual, but Selena Gomez's Oscar de la Renta feels less like a dress and more like a series of red vines wrapping around her.
Taylor Swift in Versace
Taylor Swift is currently going viral on Twitter—sorry, on X—for her fan girl behavior in the audience. She appears to be having more fun than anyone (tonight's NYSNC reunion nearly brought her to tears), and a large part of that is how comfortable she seems in her look. This slinky Versace gown has a long leg-baring slit, but it still feels very Swift, and her confidence is radiating through every re-tweeted gif.
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