Walking the red carpet is a hallmark of the celebrity lifestyle. Whether it’s a movie premiere, an awards ceremony, or a charity gala, there’s never a shortage of events for Hollywood’s elite to attend. More often than not, our favorite actors, musicians, and models use a red carpet appearance as a chance to strut their stuff and look their best.
These high-profile photo ops often give celebrities the chance to make a bold statement. Sometimes they try to grab headlines by donning an especially revealing outfit. Here are 15 of the most daring celebrity red carpet looks of all time, ranked in order from least to most shocking.
15. Kendall Jenner
Since the onset of 2017, Kendall Jenner has been no stranger to controversy. She probably wasn’t expecting the drama surrounding her Pepsi ad or her Tupac T-shirt line. But she definitely knew she’d raise some eyebrows when she planned her outfit for the Met Gala.
The annual charity event frequently hosts some of the most eyebrow-raising celebrity outfits, since guests are supposed to wear attire inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition for the year. In 2017, the Met Gala celebrated Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and her groundbreaking fashion line, Comme des Garçons.
Jenner certainly offered up a daring take on the theme, walking the red carpet in a barely there La Perla gown. The front of Jenner’s glittering, metallic dress was daring enough with a sizable cutout that exposed much of her chest and midriff. But it was the back — or rather, the lack thereof — that really got people talking. The scooped back and chain mail-esque fabric provided minimum coverage and, thus, left very little to the imagination.
14. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj marches to the beat of her own drummer — which is why we love her, and can’t wait to see what she does next. But she managed to make even her most ardent fans scratch their heads when she showed up on the red carpet at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
It wasn’t just what she was wearing, though that was certainly daring on its own. The blood-red layered Versace cape was eye-catching, to be sure. But the fact that she chose to walk arm-in-arm with a man who was dressed in full Catholic garb and seemed to be evoking the Pope himself was what really got people in a tizzy.
Minaj later used her red carpet date in her Grammy ceremony performance, an electrifying take on her single “Roman Holiday.” The exact statement she was trying to make about religion, however, was never entirely clear.
13. Sasha Gradiva
It’s hard to get noticed at big events if you’re not an A-lister — even if you do get a chance to walk the red carpet. So when singer Sasha Gradiva was invited to the 2012 Grammy Awards, she decided to make the most of her time in the spotlight.
She donned a lovely light-pink gown, and accessorized with some heavy-duty artillery. It was definitely a look — a bold one at that. And while Gradiva may still not be a household name, there’s no denying that her fashion choices are unforgettable.
12. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera pretty much perfected the blend of bubble gum sweetness and coy sexiness that became a hallmark of late ’90s pop princesses. But by 2002, she’d decided she was ready to leave her laying-in-the-beach-and-winking-at-the-camera days behind and commit to an image that was 100% edgier.
Aguilera transitioned into her sexier style over the course of a few years, but really and truly debuted the look at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. She walked the red carpet donning not just a funky, skunky hairstyle, but a micro-mini skirt and an even smaller piece of fabric that was allegedly considered a top.
It wasn’t the first or last time Aguilera wore something skimpy to an event, but it definitely marked a turn for the singer.
11. Toni Braxton
For years Toni Braxton has wowed fans with her sultry singing voice. But she truly had us floored in 2001 when she appeared at the Grammy Awards to collect her trophy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. That’s because she donned a scandalously revealing Richard Tyler gown and showed us a whole new side (well, multiple sides) of her.
The white dress was low-cut and featured a sizable slit on either side of her waist. The result was a look that reminded us she was still completely capable of slaying both high notes and haute couture.
10. Jaimie Alexander
These days, TV fans know Jaimie Alexander from her breakout role on Blindspot. Back in 2013, she was enjoying the limelight thanks to a role in the mega-blockbuster, Thor: The Dark World. When it was time for the movie’s premiere, she took a risqué approach to red carpet style and wound up stealing attention from her A-list co-stars as a result.
Alexander’s black Azzaro Couture gown was, to put it mildly, revealing. It featured a mesh cutout that revealed much of her skin — so much, in fact, that she had to later confirm that she was, in fact, wearing something underneath it.
Beyoncé is one of the few celebrities in the world who can, really and truly, do just about whatever she wants. Appear in an Austin Powers movie without significantly damaging her career? No problem. Drop an album with no warning? Sure!
That fearless approach has been especially successful when it comes to her red carpet attire. So much so that even when she appeared an hour late to the 2015 Met Gala, she was instantly forgiven because she looked so incredible.
The stunning, sheer Givenchy gown may not have exactly matched the theme of the night — “China: Through the Looking Glass.” Unless, that is, you count the fact that you could see straight through her gown. Either way, the daring dress showed off Bey’s incredible figure and highlighted her bold sense of style.
8. Rita Ora
Celebrities seem to be drawn to sheer dresses like moths to the flame. But when they can pull them off, it’s hard to argue with their fashion choices. Rita Ora definitely made a few jaws drop when she showed up to the post-Oscars Vanity Fair party in 2015.
The black Donna Karan Atelier gown she wore on the red carpet was slinky, sexy, and mostly see-through. It covered just enough to make sure that the photos that cropped up on Hollywood sites the following morning wouldn’t have to be blurred out.
7. Jennifer Lopez
These days Jennifer Lopez’s 2000 Grammy Awards dress may seem a little tame. But back in 2000, it seemed like it brought the entire world to a grinding halt. Lopez looked gorgeous in the green, floral-themed Versace gown — but the plunging neckline, which ended below her belly button, worked fans and the press into a frenzy.
The attention wasn’t all bad, though. It made Lopez into a genuine fashion icon and helped make both her and Versace household names.
6. Blac Chyna and Amber Rose
Women in the public eye face a lot of scrutiny. Everything they do, say, and yes, wear, is studied, reported on, and often criticized. Models Blac Chyna and Amber Rose decided to flip the script in 2015, walking the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet wearing outfits that served as pointed comments on all the negative commentary.
Chyna and Rose both wore nude bodysuits painted with the derogatory names they’d been called. From “gold digger” to “stripper,” the words stood out as harsh reminders that the celebrities we discuss online and among friends are, in fact, people with feelings.
5. Bella Hadid
As a model, Bella Hadid is used to showing a lot of skin when she steps in front of the camera. But she managed to leave fans breathless and speechless when she appeared on the red carpet for the 2017 Cannes amfAR Gala. She wore a sheer René Caovilla number that was really more like a leotard with some fringe than an actual gown. That wasn’t a bad thing, by the way.
The dress was definitely revealing, and barely covered most of her body. But with its ice-like embroidery and romantic off-the-shoulder sleeve, it somehow still felt surprisingly classy.
4. Lil’ Kim
There’s high fashion, and then there’s whatever Lil’ Kim wore to the 1999 MTV VMAs. The purple, sequined jumpsuit would have been eye-catching enough on its own. But the fact that it featured a cutout around one half of her chest, and a flowery pastie to (barely) cover what had been exposed, made it an outfit that many of us will never forget.
Kim’s outfit definitely made headlines — and several “worst dressed” lists, to boot.
3. Lady Gaga
When Lady Gaga first made it big there wasn’t much she did that didn’t give her attention. From her eccentric fashion style to her incredible music videos, she knew how to keep fans engrossed in her every move.
But there was something extra out there about the outfit she wore at the 2010 MTV VMAs. Like the fact that it was literally made out of meat. Almost everything she wore, from her hat down to her platform shoes, was raw beef. The look was, understandably, polarizing. Animal rights groups like PETA condemned Gaga’s attire as “offensive.” Time magazine called it the fashion statement of the year.
2. Miley Cyrus
Former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus wasn’t the first child actor/musician to switch up her image. But by the time 2015 rolled around, and she was hosting the MTV VMAs, she barely resembled the Disney star that young fans had grown to love.
She took her wacky, party-loving persona to the next level during her hosting gig. And her no-holds-barred approach also extended to her fashion choices that evening. When she walked the red carpet prior to the ceremony, she wore a mettalic ensemble that was more notable for its lack of fabric than anything else. Two suspender-like straps were all that covered her from the waist up and the chain skirt left little to the imagination.
There’s not much Rihanna hasn’t tried when it comes to fashion. In fact, any number of her outfits — from the completely see-through dress she wore to the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards to the pink cupcake-esque gown she wore to the 2015 Grammys — would be worthy of discussion in a list like this.
But what’s best — and most exciting — about Rihanna’s sense of style is that she truly commits to every look she chooses. And that was never more true than when she walked the red carpet at the 2017 Met Gala. More than any other celebrity in attendance, she took the theme to heart, donning a Comme des Garçons sculptural gown that featured layer upon elaborate layer of cut-out fabric.
Her look was complex, breathtaking, and completely unforgettable, and served as a reminder that Rihanna is and will likely always be, queen of the red carpet.
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