Rose McGowan, 1998
Chains, mesh, and Marilyn Manson… oh my! At the 1998 ceremony, Rose McGowan managed to outdo the shock rocker in this barely-there ensemble. ”I wore it to cause an uproar, but I’ll confess that I did change into another dress after walking up the red carpet,” the actress told Maxim in a 1999 interview. ”Those little strands in the back would have given me griddle butt if I’d sat down.” Our favorite detail? The leopard G-string, which perfectly coordinated with her former fiancé’s animal print suit.
Alexander Antebi (aka Conquistador), 2012
With most of the big name stars choosing to play it safe, Alexander Antebi of the band Conquistador stood out from the crowd — and not in a good way — with his neon pink cat suit, white accessories, and epic facial hair. And forget the usual hand-on-hip, or over-the-shoulder move, the singer unveiled his own signature red carpet pose.
Christina Aguilera, 2002
Goodbye, Genie in a Bottle. Hello, ”Dirrty” girl. Aguilera erased her squeaky clean teen image and unleashed her inner-vixen in 2002 with an eyebrow-raising look that included dyed hair extensions, a super short denim skirt, and a barely there halter top that helped coin a new term. ”I was giving reverse cleavage,” she told Rolling Stone in 2002. ”If I was in a back alley at midnight and wearing a get-up like that, I could see, yes, that’s a little bit hookerish. But I’m at a damn awards show! I’m an entertainer! I’m playing a part.” And so began the assless chaps Stripped phase.
Lil Kim, 1999
Lil Kim — let’s call her Nicki Minaj 1.0 — sported a purple wig, platform shoes, and a sequined one-shouldered jumpsuit to present the award for Best Hip-Hop Video in 1999. Diana Ross took one look at the performer’s exposed pastie-covered breast and just had to touch it. ”She was just basically giving me a motherly tap like, ‘Don’t you know you have a boob hangin’ out?’ ” Kim told Australia’s The Vine. ”Hey — I’m a trend-setter!” Indeed, the controversy preceded Janet Jackson’s ”Nipplegate” performance at the Super Bowl.
Paula Abdul, 1987
Straight up, someone should have told Paula Abdul to change! Not yet a household name, the American Idol star looked like a fish out of water at the 1987 ceremony in a sparkling turquoise jacket, bra, and pants. A year later, the choreographer danced into our hearts with her first album Forever Your Girl — opening the door for a whole new decade of bad outfits.
Gwen Stefani, 1998
Singer, mother, designer, and former fashion victim. These days, Gwen Stefani has impeccable taste, but at the 1998 show, the No Doubt front woman made a fashion misstep in her hideous black pant/skirt combo, decorative bindi, and wild baby blue hair and fur triangle top. ”It’s not real fur,” she reassured reporters, while petting herself. ”Since we’re not doing anything and just hanging out, I had a lot more time to think about my outfit.” Oh, really.
Nicki Minaj, 2011
No, Nicki Minaj was not kidnapped by a Japanese anime gang, but her 2011 wardrobe was inspired by the cosplay culture. The performer wore an Amato Couture pink corset, Shojotomo Japan shorts, thigh high socks and a cotton candy wig. ”Tokyo inspired this outfit,” she told the press backstage. ”Harajuku is something I have been absorbing for a long time.” Um, Gwen Stefani much?
Stacy Ferguson, 1998
Long before she became Fergalicious and wed Josh Duhamel, Stacy Ferguson was part of the female pop trio Wild Orchid. In 1998, the singer hit the VMA red carpet wearing a metallic tube top and spandex pants, which she paired with a black cowboy hat, platform flip flops, and braids. ”I’m proud of the work we did then,” she has said of her time in the girl group. ”We worked just as hard as the Black Eyed Peas but without the same success.” Fine, but any fashion regrets?
Britney Spears and Michael Jackson, 2002
Bad fashion is Toxic. On hand to present Michael Jackson’s segment in 2002, Britney Spears sported an odd S&M leather dress with strappy boots that echoed the look of Jackson’s own sparkling military boots — his take on the Sgt. Pepper era. Before handing over the statue, Spears said, ”This is someone who has inspired me.” Clearly.
Lenny Kravitz, 1993
The ”Are You Gonna Go My Way” singer appeared to have taken a few style cues from the MTV Moon Man at the 1993 show. How would the rocker describe his eclectic style? ”I call it urban nomad — a world traveler from the jungle to the desert to the city,” he told Redbook. ”I’ve been through every kind of style, and some have been scary!”
Lady Gaga and Cher, 2010
Only Lady Gaga could find a way to upstage Cher. The 2010 Video of the Year winner accepted her award from the legend in her now infamous meat dress. I’m not sure which was more shocking…Gaga’s (not so) edible creation or Cher’s decision to dig out the Bob Mackie leotard-thong she wore in the 1989 video for ”If I Could Turn Back Time.”
MC Hammer, 1990
The early ’90s were indeed Hammer time. At the 1990 ceremony, the rapper typerwritered onto the scene in his signature harem pants. His look may have inspired the baggy pants phenomenon, but they don’t hold up against the test of time.
Howard Stern (as Fartman), 1992
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Howard Stern. I’m not sure what was more offensive, that yellow spandex belly-bearing costume or the flatulent sound effects that accompanied his entrance. Luckily, audiences didn’t see Fartman’s flabby behind — only co-presenter Luke Perry had that pleasure.
Lil Kim, Mya, Christina Aguilera, & Pink, 2001
The ladies took home the 2001 Video of the Year award for ”Lady Marmalade,” but they didn’t earn any style points. Luckily, their harmonies were more in sync than their hodgepodge of fashion no-no’s from denim on denim to Rapunzel-like hair extensions
Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, 1999
On again, off again couple Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee made a memorable appearance together at the 1999 show. And not in a good way. The Baywatch star paired a frilly pink Mad Hatter-style fascinator with sparkling sheer pants, while her sex tape co-star wore a neutral trench coat — and maybe nothing underneath? — on the red carpet.
Jennifer Lopez, 1998
America’s next country music star? Lopez hadn’t even released her debut album, but she didn’t do her image any favors when she wore a cream blazer and jeans with a white sports bra and grey cowboy hat. Yee-huh?
Macy Gray, 2001
We get the message, Macy. In 2001, the quirky singer pulled a Sound of Music, turning pink drapes into a walking billboard of a dress. She had a couple nominations for her collaborations with Common and the Black Eyed Peas, but this look had me thinking about anything but her talent.
Julie Brown, 1989
I get that it was the ’80s, but Julie Brown’s hat looked like the cap from a Pepto Bismol bottle. The comedian joined Richard Marx to present at the 1989 show in this black and hot pink dress complete with long black gloves. The white tights and red hair are all sorts of wrong, but what better way to ring in the end of the Valley Girl era?
Dennis Rodman, 1995
Oh, Dennis Rodman, how we miss you. In 1995, Rodman rocked red hair, a stomach-bearing silver top, and subtle belly chain. It’s so wrong it’s almost right. Almost. The only major flaw? He should have treated us to a wardrobe change. Surely, he could have borrowed a little something from ex-girlfriend Madonna.
Rebecca Romijn, 1998
Someone call PETA, Rebecca Romijn skinned Cousin Itt! In 1998, the then host of MTV’s House of Style was a major fashion fail in this black strapless dress made of real horse hair. ”Somewhere there’s a bald horse running around in a field,” she joked.
Busta Rhymes, 1999
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? Oh, wait. I did. But I call it like I see it. Busta Rhymes slipped into this yellow rubber halter top and pants combo for the 1999 ceremony.
Destiny's Child, 2001
The R&B trio channeled Pocahontas at the 2001 show when they picked up Best R&B Video for their hit ”Survivor.” The girls wore orange fringed costumes accessorized with chunky turquoise jewelry and matching boots. Bootylicious? Hardly.
David Lee Roth, 1984
David Lee Roth attended the very first VMA’s in this Hawaiian-inspired outfit. The only problem? The show took place on the island of Manhattan, not Maui. The Van Halen lead singer broke it off with his band a year later. Was it something that he wore?
Cindy Crawford and Magic Johnson, 1992
The original House of Style host joined basketball star Magic Johnson backstage at the 1992 show. The model looked gorgeous in this appropriately ’90s dominatrix-style ensemble, but maybe she could have given her friend a few pointers. A crushed velvet purple vest, purple shirt, and PURPLE pants? Leave all that purple on the basketball court!