We never get tired of looking back and reflecting on the fashion trends that made the 2010s so memorable.
And for every chic, inoffensive outfit worn on the red carpet, there was another that defied expectations, broke boundaries, and in almost all cases, did the rounds on the Internet.
Considering stars of the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s had already broken down some of the strictest red carpet taboos (Cher, Jennifer Lopez and Elizabeth Hurley, to name a few), the 2010s were more about experimentation, with some of the decade’s most popular looks carrying plenty of underlying meaning.
Of course, narrowing down just a handful of looks from the past decade is no easy job, but scroll down for 13 red carpet looks that shocked, amazed, and broke rules over the past decade.
Lady Gaga in Armani Privé at the Grammy Awards (2010)
At the 2010 Grammys, Lady Gaga shocked and wowed onlookers in this whimsical custom creation by Armani Privé. The singer, who was nominated for six awards on the night, wore a pair of gravity-defying heels, and her yellow hair made for a striking contrast.
Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell at the MTV VMAs (2010)
When Gaga wore this controversial dress made entirely from uncooked meat to the 2010 VMAs, many considered it to be simply a shocking statement. What many don’t know, however, was that the dress was linked to her protest against the U.S. military’s controversial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, which encouraged LGBTQ+ people in the military to keep their sexual identities a secret.
Angelina Jolie in Versace at the Academy Awards (2012)
Two years into the 2010s, Angelina Jolie’s black Versace dress made for one of the most memorable fashion moments in Oscar history. While she sticks to a more classic aesthetic in 2019, Jolie set the bar pretty high for any other star daring to attempt a high leg-slit on the red carpet.
Kim Kardashian in Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci at the Met Gala (2013)
In 2019, Kim Kardashian West revealed that she “cried the whole way home” after the 2013 Met Gala, due to the cruel online jokes made about her floral Givenchy dress. Though the gown still divides opinions, it’s undeniably one of the most memorable Met Gala looks in history, and cemented KKW as one of the Met’s most anticipated guests in years to follow.
Rihanna in Adam Selman at the CFDA Awards (2014)
An appropriate dress to wear when accepting a ‘fashion icon’ award, Rihanna’s Swarovski crystal-adorned Adam Selman dress for the CFDAs was crafted by 20 people, and has become a naked dress that pretty much everyone can agree on (bar Cher’s history-making Bob Mackie looks from the ’70s and ’80s).
Beyoncé in Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci at the Met Gala (2015)
Though she arrived two hours late to the 2015 Met Gala, Beyoncé’s see-through Givenchy gown made sure she was the star of the night. With its intricate embroidery featuring priceless Lorraine Schwartz jewels, this look was another example of a naked dress gone right.
Solange in Giles Deacon at the Met Gala (2015)
Solange’s iridescent-effect Giles Deacon dress at the 2015 Met could be interpreted two different ways. It could be seen as simply a major red carpet statement, but also as a symbolic defence from the paparazzi, after an incident between the singer and her brother-in-law, Jay-Z, was captured and went viral on the Internet following the previous year’s gala. Either way, we’ll never forget this look.
Miley Cyrus in Versace at the MTV VMAs (2015)
Though Cyrus’ most controversial outing at the VMAs was in 2013 (remember that foam finger?), she upped the ante for the 2015 awards ceremony, which she was hosting. In this barely-there custom ensemble by Versace, the singer accessorised with thigh-high silver boots and statement blue eye makeup.
Bella Hadid in Alexandre Vauthier at the Cannes Film Festival (2016)
French couturier Alexandre Vauthier is known for his dramatic, often risqué designs, but the red dress he designed for Bella Hadid’s Cannes appearance in 2016 was next level. Featuring a split so high it ended above her hipbone, Hadid had to navigate the red carpet carefully in order to avoid a (very possible) wardrobe malfunction.
Michelle Obama in Atelier Versace at the White House (2016)
Michelle Obama was known for championing an understated aesthetic during her time in the White House, which made this Versace dress all the more talked about. In honour of an event celebrating the Italian Prime Minister, Obama tapped the iconic Italian label for a custom, ruched chain-mail dress, and switched her regular hair for some impromptu bangs. The result? Perfection.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex in Givenchy at the British Fashion Awards (2018)
Duchess Meghan skipped the red carpet and made a surprise appearance at the 2018 BFAs, to present an award to her wedding dress designer, Givenchy creative director Clare Waight Keller. The unexpected appearance had the entire world talking—as did Meghan’s one-shoulder Givenchy gown, which saw her singlehandedly modernise the strict sartorial expectations placed on royal women.
Cardi B in archival Mugler at the Grammy Awards (2019)
Cardi B made the fashion world pay attention when she dug into Thierry Mugler’s archives for her outfit at the 2019 Grammys. In a sea (pun intended) of ball gowns, Cardi’s outfit cemented her as one of fashion’s rising stars, and also helped popularise the modern-day revival of Mugler’s ’90s designs.
Frank Ocean in Prada at the Met Gala (2019)
2019’s ‘Camp’-themed Met Gala saw celebrities arriving in all kinds of pompous garments—instead of Frank Ocean, however, who showed up in a relatively simple black Prada hoodie. Though it’s possible he chose to ignore the theme, many argued that Ocean’s unexpected look embodied the ‘camp’ aesthetic in its own meta, ironic way.