The 70 Most Controversial Celebrity Outfits of All Time

From Gaga's meat dress to Karlie Kloss' headdress.

image
Getty Images

We have celebrities to thank for a lot of major fashion trends, both past and present. But for every "win" in the This Is Going To Be Something People Copy column, there's a handful of bold boundary-pushing looks that miss the mark. Some were downright signs of cultural appropriation while others toed the line from being too scandalous to actually kind of cool. Here, 70 star style moments that have inspired debate over the years.

•••
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter (subscribe here)

image
Splash News
Kendall Jenner in a Tupac Shirt

In 2017, Kendall and Kylie tried to launch a line of tees with their faces superimposed over music stars like Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. The only problem? The stars and their team never got permission to use the photos that were imprinted on t-shirts and then sold for $125 a piece. The Jenner sisters also faced backlash and accusations of cultural appropriation, with even Biggie’s mom Voletta Wallace addressing the controversy in an Instagram post.

1 of 70
61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals
Amy SussmanGetty Images
Joy Villa at the 2019 Grammys

Villa made a name for herself by wearing outfits in support of the Trump administration to red carpet events. Aside from wearing a dress that said "Make America Great Again" to the Grammys, she also wore this one that said "Build the Wall" in 2019. If people thought she was joking or being sarcastic, you can see her pro-MAGA Instagram posts here.

2 of 70
image
Getty Images
Serena Williams at the French Open in 2018

The tennis star made headlines when she wore a catsuit to French Open, with many praising the athlete for the sporty look. But things took a dramatic turn when The French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli, decided to ban the one-piece from future tournaments. Williams, and other celebrities, did not take this news lying down

3 of 70
image
Getty Images
Melania Trump's Jacket in 2018

For a surprise trip to Texas to visit facilities that housed migrant children, Melania wore this jacket that read, "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" Despite all the speculations that unfolded after she wore this, Melania told ABC News that she wore the outerwear "for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me. And I want to show them that I don't care."

4 of 70
image
Getty Images
Sharon Stone at the Oscars in 1998

Before high-low became a trend in fashion, there was Sharon Stone. In 1998, the actress wore a white button-up from Gap with a Vera Wang skirt to the Oscars. Media outlets called out this surprising fact in stories and Stone broke all the rules of red carpet dressing in the best possible way.

5 of 70
Kanye West In The White House
Consolidated News PicturesGetty Images
Kanye West at the White House in 2018

The singer met with President Donald Trump at the White House in 2018 to discuss numerous issues from North Korea to bipolar disorder. West wore the controversial "Make America Great Again" hat and said he felt like a superhero in it. "I love this guy right here," said West after the meeting. His support for Trump has been well-documented and friends like John Legend have chastised the singer for doing so.

6 of 70
image
Getty Images
Scarlett Johansson at the Met Gala in 2018

Scarlett Johansson was the first major celebrity to wear Marchesa since the Harvey Weinstein scandal. (Georgina Chapman was married to Weinstein, and celebrities had revealed he would pressure them to wear his then wife's creations.) In a statement to the Cut, Johansson said of her decision, "I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful and it is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important female designers."

7 of 70
image
Getty Images
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton's Blood Necklaces

Who could ever forget the duo wearing each other's blood as a symbol of their love? In a 2008 story to Entertainment Weekly, Jolie clarified the sensationalized news, saying, "It was like a flower press. It was like from a slight cut on your finger and you press your fingerprint in. It was kind of a sweet gesture. I thought it was kind of romantic!" There were also no "blood vials" as reported by the media. So then, a prick seems harmless...right?

8 of 70
image
Getty Images
Ellie Goulding’s Halloween Costume in 2014

Dressing up as a Native American should not be anyone's choice for a costume, ever. The singer received backlash for her outfit, which she captioned "Chief" in a now-deleted Instagram post, from fans who called her racist and insensitive.

9 of 70
image
Getty Images
Hilary Duff and Jason Walsh in 2016

Another party, another Native American costume. The duo attended a Halloween gathering as a pilgrim and a Native American. Once photos were released, the duo of course got called out for their insensitive outfits. "I am SO sorry to people I offended with my costume. It was not properly thought through and I am truly sorry," Duff wrote on Twitter.

10 of 70
image
Getty Images
Harry Hamlin as Sid Vicious in 2015

The couple dressed as Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen for the Casamigos tequila Halloween party. Rinna’s husband Harry took things a bit too far for fans when he wore a red tee with a swastika on it. Rinna later took to Instagram to apologize for the incident.

11 of 70
image
Splash News
Chris Brown Dressed as a Taliban in 2012

The singer arrived to Rihanna’s West Hollywood Halloween party dressed as an Arab terrorist. ABC News called the costume "questionable" while others called him a tool and also completely expected from someone who wasn’t self-aware of anything.

12 of 70
image
BACKGRID
Chris Pratt in a Tee in 2019

Chris Pratt wore a T-shirt with the American flag and Gadsden's famous rattlesnake with the message "Don't tread on me." This image has been used by Tea Party members, anti-gun control groups, and Donald Trump supporters. Twitter users saw this as a sign of white supremacist sentiment, while conservatives rushed to Pratt's defense for "liberal media" smearing a "patriotic" celebrity.

13 of 70
image
SplashNews.com
Lily Allen as Dr. Luke for Halloween in 2014

The singer arrived to Kate Hudson’s Halloween party dressed as Dr. Luke right after singer Kesha revealed that the music producer sexually assaulted her amongst other allegations. Allen’s tag read "Dr. Luke, gynecology department." Yikes.

14 of 70
image
Getty Images
Lizzy Gardiner at the Oscars in 1995

The costume designer outdid herself when she wore this American Express card dress to the Oscars. To create the look, 254 expired cards were used. We have so many questions. Was it heavy? How did she sit down? Did the cards bend? And...why?

15 of 70
image
Getty Images
Britney Spears' 2001 VMAs Outfit

One of the most iconic and wild moments that ever happened on the VMAs stage (pre-Miley twerk if you will) was Britney in this outfit with a snake for her "Slave 4 U" performance in 2001. The look has since been recreated by everyone for Halloween to themed parties and is 100 percent unforgettable.

16 of 70
Gaga's meat ensemble sparked extreme controversy in the animal rights community. "No matter how beautifully it is presented, flesh from a tortured animal is flesh from a tortured animal," said PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. "Meat represents bloody violence and suffering, so if that's the look they were going for, they achieved it."
Getty Images
Lady Gaga at the 2010 MTV Video Awards

Gaga's meat ensemble sparked extreme controversy in the animal rights community. "No matter how beautifully it is presented, flesh from a tortured animal is flesh from a tortured animal," said PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. "Meat represents bloody violence and suffering, so if that's the look they were going for, they achieved it."

17 of 70
The infamous half-time moment—which left Janet exposed—sparked a huge controversy, as many people were torn over whether or not the incident was accidental or intentional. 
Getty Images
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl

The infamous half-time moment—which left Janet exposed—sparked a huge controversy, as many people were torn over whether or not the incident was accidental or intentional.

18 of 70
The singer offended many in the Muslim community when she walked down the London runway in a burqa. The Atlantic covered the controversy, calling her outfit choice "cultural thievery."
Getty Images
Lady Gaga at London Fashion Week in 2012

The singer offended many in the Muslim community when she walked down the London runway in a burqa. The Atlantic covered the controversy, calling her outfit choice "cultural thievery."

19 of 70
Reactions to Katy's dress included phrases like "cringe-worthy," "baffling," and "ludicrous."
Getty Images
Katy Perry at the 2017 Met Gala

Reactions to Katy's dress included phrases like "cringe-worthy," "baffling," and "ludicrous."

20 of 70
This sparked a major backlash for pretty obvious reasons.
Getty Images
Nas and Kelis at the 2008 Grammy Awards

This sparked a major backlash for pretty obvious reasons.

21 of 70
Katy's AMA received major criticism for wearing a kimono. Some were shocked at the "racist" ensemble, and others were totally unsurprised. One Twitter user wrote, "Loved the cultural authenticity of Katy Perry's #AMAs performance. She nailed the traditionally ignorant costume of a white pop singer." She later apologized. 
Getty Images
Katy Perry Performing at the 2013 AMA's

Katy's AMA received major criticism for wearing a kimono. Some were shocked at the "racist" ensemble, and others were totally unsurprised. One Twitter user wrote, "Loved the cultural authenticity of Katy Perry's #AMAs performance. She nailed the traditionally ignorant costume of a white pop singer." She later apologized.

22 of 70
In 1928, this costume was extremely controversial, given that it was in such contrast to the outfits women were expected to wear. Some people credit this controversial costume for transforming American culture, saying she "radically redefined notions of race and gender through style and performance in a way that continues to echo throughout fashion and music today, from Prada to Beyoncé." 
Getty Images
Josephine Baker Performing in 1928 at the Theater des Westens in Berlin

In 1928, this costume was extremely controversial, given that it was in such contrast to the outfits women were expected to wear. Some people credit this controversial costume for transforming American culture, saying she "radically redefined notions of race and gender through style and performance in a way that continues to echo throughout fashion and music today, from Prada to Beyoncé."

23 of 70
Before Madonna had really gained her notoriety for testing the limits of fashion, this look for her "Like a Virgin" music video was an extremely hot topic. 
Getty Images
Madonna at the 1984 MTV Awards

Before Madonna had really gained her notoriety for testing the limits of fashion, this look for her "Like a Virgin" music video was an extremely hot topic.

24 of 70
image
Warner Bros/Dc/Kobal/Shutterstock

Very few people liked this suit given its "cheap looking CGI and off-putting tone of the color scheme."

25 of 70
Beyoncé and Coldplay set their music video for "Hymn for the Weekend" in India and were accused of cultural appropriation, and criticized for an inaccurate portrayal of the country. One Twitter user wrote in response [sic], "i dont even know what to say about this coldplay video except can white rock bands please stop filming holi videos in india, thank you."
Youtube
Beyoncé in the video for "Hymn for the Weekend"

Beyoncé and Coldplay set their music video for "Hymn for the Weekend" in India and were accused of cultural appropriation, and criticized for an inaccurate portrayal of the country. One Twitter user wrote in response [sic], "i dont even know what to say about this coldplay video except can white rock bands please stop filming holi videos in india, thank you."

26 of 70
Paris and Nicky were slammed for culturally appropriated Halloween costumes.
Getty Images
Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton Rothschild at the Tequila Casamigos Halloween Party in 2015

Paris and Nicky were slammed for culturally appropriated Halloween costumes.

27 of 70
When the trailer was released for the upcoming film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, many people were taken aback by Karen's costume. Her costume was criticized for sexualizing the actress: "Maybe part of the plot involves setting the gender equality fight back 20 years?" and for looking like it belonged to a child, "Ruby lost all of her clothing and had to rob a Baby Gap." 
Shutterstock
Karen Gillan in 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'

When the trailer was released for the upcoming film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, many people were taken aback by Karen's costume. Her costume was criticized for sexualizing the actress: "Maybe part of the plot involves setting the gender equality fight back 20 years?" and for looking like it belonged to a child, "Ruby lost all of her clothing and had to rob a Baby Gap."

28 of 70
<p>Many people thought this dress was "ill-fitting and overly quixotic.<span class="redactor-invisible-space" data-verified="redactor" data-redactor-tag="span" data-redactor-class="redactor-invisible-space">" Stacy London conveyed this general opinion when&nbsp;she <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-style/news/stacy-london-i-hated-gwyneth-paltrows-pink-oscar-dress-201282?utm_source=huffpostlive&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=partner" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link">said</a>, "I hated Gwyneth Paltrow's pink Oscar dress."&nbsp;</span></p>
Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Academy Awards

Many people thought this dress was "ill-fitting and overly quixotic." Stacy London conveyed this general opinion when she said, "I hated Gwyneth Paltrow's pink Oscar dress."

29 of 70
This extremely elaborate Halloween costume was deemed offensive by some. 
Getty Images
Heidi Klum and Seal at their 2008 Halloween Party

This extremely elaborate Halloween costume was deemed offensive by some.

30 of 70
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Fashion