There are many reasons to be excited about this Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards. Ha. Just kidding. There really isn't anything to be excited about at all. I mean, you don't really care that much about 'NSYNC reuniting, do you? You're over the age of 10 and have ears, right? I thought so. And who could possibly really care about the not-witty-at-all banter that's going to be happening between all the presenters. I mean, for every great Courtney Love-throwing-shoes-at-Madonna-and-Kurt Loder or Fiona Apple-quoting-Maya Angelou-and-calling-everything-bullshit moment, there's hundreds of boring, pointless moments that remind you why you haven't watched MTV in years and years anyway. But so! There's one thing that's pretty reliably fun about the VMAs. Or at least, it always has been in the past. And that's the fashion. The fashion has always been pretty great. By the way, when I say fashion, I do not mean Lady Gaga wearing a meat dress. That is not fashion. That is meat. Here's 20 of our favorite fashion moments in VMAs history. We can certainly hope that, with the VMAs finally coming to Brooklyn, the fashion will reach the heights it has in years past. But, uh, yeah. We doubt it. So let's let nostalgia take us away, far, far away.
David Lee Roth; 1984
1984 marked the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards. David Lee Roth celebrated by wearing a full-on Hawaiian shirt-jumpsuit. We heartily approve and endorse this. It's good when a man lets you know he's a party animal just by the way he dresses.
Sinead O'Connor; 1990
And so we jump ahead to the 90s and minimalism. And did anyone embrace minimalism more than Sinead O'Connor? I mean, she shaved her head! That's very minimal. And she wore a simple white dress and those great Dwayne Wayne sunglasses. Perfect. Lest you think the 90s were all about minimalism, though, check out Madonna in costume below. She was performing "Vogue" and it was perfection.
In 1992, Nirvana performed a few seconds of "Rape Me" at the VMA, despite MTV having forbidden them from doing so. But perhaps more important, Krist Novoselic was wearing pretty terrific purple pants and Kurt Cobain was sporting a Daniel Johnston t-shirt. This was a fashion zenith, for sure.
Why, hello, RuPaul. Yes, you do look amazing with your towering blond bouffant and beautiful studded dress. Also looking good? Little Frances Bean Cobain. Nice shades, Kurt.
Nathaniel Hornblower; 1994
Why more people don't accept awards while wearing fake facial hair and lederhosen, we'll never know. Leave it to the late, great Adam Yauch (appearing as Nathaniel Hornblower) to show how things ought to be done.
Lisa Marie Presley; 1994
Obviously most people paid more attention to Michael Jackson's fashion choices, but most people are stupid. Lisa Marie is so quintessentially mid-90s, and it's a beautiful thing. She's sporting a multi-strand pearl choker, a cropped vest with no shirt underneath, and high-waisted billowing pants. What's not to love?
Boyz II Men; 1994
Why don't people wear maroon anymore? Look how good these four look in maroon. Very good. And those baseball caps. Amazing.
Everyone remembers Madonna in this outfit because it's what she was wearing when Kurt Loder interviewed her and Courtney Love threw shoes at them and crashed the interview and Courtney was a mess but at least her speech was affected by drugs and alcohol, whereas Madonna's was affected by a terrible attempt at a British accent. Anyway! This throwback to the 70s outfit was still incredible, as was the hair. She looked good even if she sounded ridiculous.
Van Halen; 1996
I remember watching this show and I remember how it was supposed to be a big deal that Van Halen would be on stage together again after ten years and I remember not caring and wondering how old you'd have to be to actually care and I remembering thinking "Pretty damn old.
" And nobody cared and they didn't get back together and that was that. But! Also. Those overalls are incredible as are DLR's mom jeans and shirt-unbuttoned-to-his-navel. Those outfits make the whole thing worth it.Fiona Apple; 1997
This was the year that Fiona won an award and told the audience that everything they saw was bullshit and everyone acted like she had pissed all over the Lincoln Memorial or something when, really, everything she said was true. Seriously. There is nothing that is more bullshit than the MTV VMA. Which is fine. Bullshit can be fun. But it's still bullshit. But so, what no one really ever talked about was her awesome dress. I love that dress and want it now because I would wear the hell out of it. It's perfect.
Gwen Stefani; 1998
Look! Blue hair and stick-on facial jewelry! And a furry blue bikini top and a skirt over pants and platform flip-flops. I kind of love this? If only because it seems so pre-stylist for Gwen and reminds me of this great MTV House of Style
episode where Gwen Stefani and Shalom Harlow walked on a treadmill together and then went through Gwen's clothes, which were all piled on the floor, which was just how I organized my clothes at that point in my life. In conclusion, this is a good look.
As embarrassing as it must be to show up at an event like this and be wearing the same clothes, imagine how bad it would be to be wearing the same stick-on facial jewelry! Well, that's just what happened in 1998 to Madonna and Gwen Stefani. It's hard to imagine a time when this was a trend, but I guess it was, and that time was 1998. Good times.
Rose McGowan; 1998
Ah, who am I kidding? No one was paying attention to Madonna or Gwen Stefani's stick-on facial jewelry. 1998 was the year of Rose McGowan's naked ass dress! What a bold fashion statement. There is no way this fashion statement was made just to draw attention to herself. That'd be like saying her whole relationship with Marilyn Manson was similarly disingenuous and I would never say that. Not at all.
There is nothing about Prince here that is not perfect. The hair, the face, the outfit. Flawless. Sure, he's tiny enough that in person he would've looked like a Smurf. But in pictures? Ok. He still looks like a Smurf. But a sexy motherfuckin' Smurf.
Lil Kim; 1999
Jennifer Lopez; 2000
Much like Prince in 1999, Lil Kim was working in shades of blue and purple. This is the outfit (lack of an outfit) that led to Diana Ross playing with Kim's boob on stage. So, thank you outfit, for that surreal moment. Thank you.
I might be alone in this, but this is one of my favorite VMA outfits of all time. Maybe it's because it's just so calculated and such a hilarious effort to make Jennifer Lopez seem "real." Maybe it's because women over thirty who sport glittered mid-sections and a glorified sports bra are delightful to me. Maybe it's just that there's documentation of someone wearing a bedazzled bandana. I don't know. But this is one of my favorite VMA fashion moments of all time.
Macy Gray; 2001
Fashion as billboard. Fashion as promotion. Fashion as artist's statement. I don't know. Was Macy Gray trying to send a deeper message other than the one blatantly telling people to buy her album? Who knows? Who cares? No one bought the album. And now Macy Gray works in advertising. Or, maybe not. I don't know what she does now! No one does. Nobody bought that album.
Destiny's Child; 2001
It's cool that we all acknowledge that Beyonceé is a personal lord and savior and everything, but let's not forget that she used to dress like this. Let's never forget. Because this? Is hilarious. My eyes bleed just from a quick glance. Staring at this too long will certainly damage your corneas. Be careful.
Christina Aguilera; 2002
Cool top, Christina. Or was it Xtina then? Who can remember. That's not important. All that's important is right there in the picture. The hat. The skirt. The hair. The top. Beautiful. No matter what they say, this is a beautiful look.
Lenny Kravitz; 2004
He's wearing wings. The man who wrote the song "Fly Away" is wearing wings. And a denim-fringed...what is that? A shrug? A shawl? Hard to say. Even so, this fashion moment is everything anyone could possibly want. Thanks for the memories VMA fashion! Don't disappoint us this year!
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