The Most Daring Red-Carpet Dresses Of All Time
From J. Lo's unforgettable Versace to Gaga's meat dress, the red carpet has seen some show-stopping getups.
On the red carpet, celebrities get to show off their true selves. Stars who seem demure in the roles they perform often show just how confident, wild and daring they are when it comes time to pose for the cameras in a designer gown.
We’ve rounded up some of the most daring looks ever displayed on the red carpet. Whether it’s sheer fabric, plunging necklines, high slits or the magical art of fashion tape — or all of them at once — these outfits stole all the headlines.
Elizabeth Hurley’s Safety Pin Dress — ‘Four Weddings And A Funeral’ Premiere (1994)
Designer: Gianni Versace
In 1994, model and actor Elizabeth Hurley wore what later became known as “that dress” when she stepped out to the premiere of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” with then-boyfriend Hugh Grant.
Hurley, wearing a barely-there black Versace gown that had a serious slit and a deep neckline — and was held together with gold safety pins — instantly became a media sensation. She had to give the dress back the next day and recently told Harper’s Bazaar that the dress “really wasn’t that big a deal to me at the time.” She was perhaps the only person who felt that way.
Bjork’s Swan Dress — 2001 Academy Awards
Designer: Marjan Pejoski
Icelandic singer Bjork broke out one of the most-talked-about dresses in red-carpet history at the 2001 Oscars. The Marjan Pejoski-designed gown, which was made to look like she had a swan wrapped around her neck, was roasted by fashion critics at the time, including Joan Rivers, who suggested Bjork “should be put into an asylum.” The dress has now become an icon and was even featured in New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2015.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s See-Through Dress — ‘Iron Man 3’ Premiere (2013)
Designer: Antonio Berardi
Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow is known for being an icon on the red carpet, often choosing high-fashion looks that are elegant and gorgeous. At the 2013 premiere of her movie “Iron Man 3,” she made headlines for a very revealing dress that required her to leave her underwear at home thanks to sheer panels running up each hip.
She described it to Ellen DeGeneres as “a disaster” because the dress forced her team members to scramble to find a razor to clean up her bikini line just before she hit the red carpet.
Cindy Crawford’s Red Versace Dress — 1991 Academy Awards
Designer: Gianni Versace
In one of the original examples of a headline-stealing red-carpet look, 25-year-old Cindy Crawford channeled every ounce of her powers into this red Versace dress she wore to the 1991 Oscars. She attended with then-boyfriend Richard Gere, who was one of the biggest stars on the planet at that point, but nobody was looking at him.
Jennifer Lopez’s Green Versace — 2000 Grammy Awards
Designer: Donatella Versace
In the history of red-carpet fashion, there may have never been a bigger showstopper than Jennifer Lopez’s green gown from the 2000 Grammys. Designed by Donatella Versace not long after the death of her brother, Gianni, the silk chiffon dress had a neckline that dove past Lopez’s belly button and a slit that went all the way up.
The dress put fashion tape on the map as people wondered how she avoided a graphic mishap. In 2017, she told “Entertainment Tonight” there was an energy on the red carpet when she stepped onto it.
“It was a weird feeling,” she said. “I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ And my dress was happening, and I didn’t know it.”
Toni Braxton’s White Gown — 2001 Grammy Awards
Designer: Richard Tyler
A year after Jennifer Lopez stunned the world in her Grammy dress, singer Toni Braxton came pretty close to upping the ante. Her barely-there white gown from Richard Tyler was named the best Grammys dress of the 2000s by stylist Felix Mercado. In 2013, CBS issued a memo to celebs attending the Grammys to avoid showing too much skin — likely inspired by dresses like those worn by Braxton and Lopez.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Chainmail Dress — ‘Mother!’ Premiere (2017)
Label: Atelier Versace
When Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence stepped out for the London premiere of her film “Mother!” in 2017, she grabbed headlines for more than her acting. The A-lister stunned in a see-through dress with netting and chainmail. The look was quite daring and put the outgoing star’s body on full display. InStyle praised the dress and said she was “taking her style game to the next level.”
Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress — 2010 MTV Video Music Awards
Designer: Franc Fernandez
Lady Gaga has long been one of the most daring dressers in entertainment, and no outfit showed that more than her infamous “meat dress” at the 2010 VMAs. Argentine designer Franc Fernandez put together a dress made of actual beef, with matching shoes and headpiece. Lady Gaga, herself a vegan, said the dress was part of a protest for LGBTQ rights and was not meant to disrespect animals. PETA, however, found it “offensive.”
Angelina Jolie’s ‘Right Leg’ Gown — 2012 Academy Awards
Label: Atelier Versace
Angelina Jolie has been a red-carpet icon for most of her career, but this 2012 Oscars dress might be her most talked-about fashion moment ever. It’s an elegant black gown from Versace, but Jolie made it iconic by going out of her way to show off a thigh-high slit with poses that accentuated her long legs on the red carpet. Jolie’s exposed leg stole the entire show and even inspired a Twitter account called Angie’s Right Leg, which picked up more than 15,000 followers during the Oscars.
Beyoncé’s Sheer Givenchy Dress — 2015 Met Gala
Beyoncé has rocked Givenchy many times at the Met Gala. But her dress for the 2015 gala was one of her most daring looks ever. The beads and jewels on the floor-length tulle are in just the right places and left little room for error, but of course Queen Bey pulled it off beautifully.
Cher’s Halter And Headdress — 1986 Academy Awards
Designer: Bob Mackie
Two years before she’d win an Oscar for her role in “Moonstruck,” Cher stole plenty of headlines from the 1986 awards show.
Designer Bob Mackie at first advised her to wear a gown, but Cher said, “I don’t want to look like a housewife in an evening gown,” Mackie told the Hollywood Reporter. He described her as “the eternal 15-year-old who’s going to do exactly what her mother says not to do.” She was 39 when she wore his black, bejeweled, midriff-showing design, complete with fluffy headdress.
Halle Berry’s Sheer Embroidered Gown — 2002 Academy Awards
Designer: Elie Saab
In 2002, Halle Berry was on top of the entertainment world, and at the Academy Awards that year, she won an Oscar and wowed fashion critics at the same time. This Elie Saab gown showed a lot of skin up top but still left some to the imagination. The dress is still cited as an all-time Oscars classic.
Taylor Swift’s Metallic Louis Vuitton — 2016 Met Gala
Designer: Louis Vuitton
New York’s annual Met Gala is the place for celebs to show off their edgiest looks. In 2016, Taylor Swift had even her most die-hard fans doing a double take thanks to her most striking look to date. The hair and makeup were bold on their own, but paired with the knee-high gladiator heels and the metallic fabric on her short Louis Vuitton dress, it was a far cry from her “Love Story” days. USA Today called it “robo-chic.”
Rihanna’s ‘Omelet’ Dress — 2015 Met Gala
Designer: Guo Pei
This gown proves you don’t have to show skin to be daring. Rihanna — who’s known for taking risks on the red carpet — chose this dramatic gown from Chinese designer Guo Pei for her 2015 Met Gala appearance. The dress took the designer nearly two years to make (it wasn’t originally designed for Rihanna), and it weighs about 55 pounds … and some critics thought the cape resembled an omelet.
Ariel Winter’s High-Slit Gown — 2017 Emmy Awards
Designer: Zuhair Murad
Despite playing the awkward, dorky Alex on “Modern Family,” Ariel Winter is known for her sexy red-carpet looks in real life. At 19 years old, the star wowed with a very grown-up look that included a Zuhair Murad dress that featured two seriously high slits and no sleeves. The gown divided critics, with USA Today putting her on its worst-dressed list and saying it looked like something from Forever 21.
Kendall Jenner’s Double-Slit Gown — 2014 MuchMusic Awards
Designer: Fausto Puglisi
As you’ve noticed with many of these daring dresses, underwear is overrated. Model Kendall Jenner proved that when she showed up at the 2014 MuchMusic Awards in this Fausto Puglisi gown with two slits so high they nearly reach her waist. The model was only 18 at the time and wrote on Instagram, “Why do one slit when you can do TWO!?”
Miley Cyrus’ Straps-And-Jewels Outfit — 2015 MTV Video Music Awards
In 2013, Miley Cyrus officially shed her Disney Channel image with a performance with Robin Thicke at the VMAs that people are still talking about. But Cyrus may have actually outdone herself in 2015, when she hosted the wild awards show. On the red carpet, Cyrus stunned people with a see-through skirt, two straps that covered her breasts and some knee-high boots, all from Versace. The view from the back would make anyone blush. Rolling Stone called the outfit “little more than silver suspenders.”
Priyanka Chopra’s Trench Dress — 2017 Met Gala
Designer: Ralph Lauren
Priyanka Chopra virtually always looks flawless, but in 2017, she took a major risk wearing this dress to the Met Gala. In what has to be the most dramatic trench coat ever worn, Chopra’s Ralph Lauren dress made headlines around the world. Fashion critics were divided, but with that popped collar, high slit and ridiculous train, you can’t say it wasn’t a daring look.
Chrissy Teigen’s High-Slit Dress — 2016 American Music Awards
Designer: Yousef Akbar
In 2016, model Chrissy Teigen wore what may have been her most daring look to date while attending the American Music Awards. This Yousef Akbar gown had an insanely high slit and was held together with just a safety pin. The hilarious star apologized on social media for anyone “harmed mentally or physically” by her private parts. Fun fact: Teigen had just given birth to her first child about seven months before this red-carpet appearance!
Anne Hathaway’s See-Through Valentino — 2013 Met Gala
The 2013 Met Gala had a punky theme, and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway certainly embraced it. Not only was Hathaway’s see-through black Valentino gown a departure from her typical red-carpet looks, but her short, platinum hairstyle took it to a new level. In 2018, Vogue called the look proof that Hathaway is a “beauty risk-taker.”
Demi Lovato’s Body Suit And Harem Pants — 2017 MTV Video Music Awards
Designer: Zuhair Murad
Demi Lovato showed she was far removed from her Disney Channel days when she rocked this daring look at the 2017 VMAs. The lacy top showed plenty of skin, while the pants bring to mind a fab MC Hammer. When you sing a song called “Confident,” you’d better be able to back it up like Lovato.
Zoe Kravitz’s Two-Bow Saint Laurent Dress — 2018 Met Gala
Label: Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello
When your entire dress is held together by two bows and you’re unable to wear underwear with it, you know you’ve got a daring look. At the 2018 Met Gala, “Big Little Lies” star Zoe Kravitz wore a Saint Laurent gown that was described as a “total optical illusion” by Teen Vogue. From her left side, it looks like an all-covering black gown, but from the right, it shows how revealing the whole look truly is.
Taraji P. Henson’s Vera Wang — 2018 Academy Awards
Designer: Vera Wang
The best part about “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson’s 2018 Oscars dress? She was 47 years old at the time she rocked it. This sheer black Vera Wang gown showed a mile of leg — as well as other skin — and landed Henson on several best-dressed lists after the writers had picked their jaws up from the floor.
Jaimie Alexander’s Sheer-Panel Dress — ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Premiere (2013)
“Blindspot” star Jaimie Alexander blindsided everyone at the 2013 premiere of her movie “Thor: The Dark World.” The actor wore an Azzaro gown that had completely sheer panels running from top to bottom on the front and back. Alexander clearly couldn’t wear any underwear with the dress, and her look stole every headline from the event. The New York Daily News called the gown a “show-stopper.”
Lil Kim’s Purple Pantsuit — 1999 MTV Video Music Awards
Designer: Misa Hylton
Of all the daring looks that have been tried on the red carpet at the VMAs over the years, rapper Lil Kim’s jumpsuit and matching pasty probably tops them all.
The designer later told Vogue, “I created a visual story, something out of the ordinary and unique to anything experienced thus far.” Kim’s look proved too tempting for Diana Ross, who touched the rapper’s exposed left breast while they were presenting an award together.
Bella Hadid’s Ralph & Russo Dress — 2017 amfAR Gala
Designer: Ralph & Russo
When Bella Hadid showed up to the 2017 amfAR gala, which raises money for AIDS research, she made everyone hold their breath. The 20-year-old model showed more skin than is probably legal in most places in a sheer bustier top and briefs, covered by a see-through Ralph & Russo gown. Designer Michael Russo told People of the look, “We dress confident, empowered women.”
Rita Ora’s Sheer Donna Karan — 2015 Vanity Fair Academy Awards Party
Designer: Donna Karan
When Rita Ora stepped out for the 2015 Oscars, where she performed the nominated song “Grateful,” she wore at least three dresses that night on various red carpets. The singer wowed in every one of them but made headlines for this one with clear side panels that left no doubt about whether she was wearing anything underneath. Her stylist, Jason Rembert, told InStyle she actually ate a cheeseburger right before stepping into this dress!
Lupita Nyong’o’s Prada Flapper Gown — 2014 Met Gala
Oscar-winning star Lupita Nyong’o is one of the best-dressed women in Hollywood, and she went full-on 1920s flapper in this gown she wore at the 2014 Met Gala. The Prada-designed look featured a short, brown dress covered by a netted gown that is covered in emerald beads and green feathers. The ensemble drew mixed reviews online (People gave her their risk-taker award), but it was certainly daring.
Amber Rose’s Chainmail Dress — 2014 MTV Video Music Awards
Designer: Laura Dewitt
Model Amber Rose stole the spotlight in this barely-there look she wore alongside then-husband Wiz Khalifa at the 2014 VMAs. Designed by Laura Dewitt, this chainmail “dress” included a matching thong underneath, which was completely visible. Rose has always proudly shown off her body and has repeatedly stared down haters, which explains her confidence in wearing something like this. E! News wrote that she was “practically naked” on the red carpet.
Rebecca Judd’s Plunging Red Dress — 2004 Brownlow Medal Ceremony
Designer: Ruth Tarvydas
You might not have heard of Rebecca Judd, but in Australia, a single outfit she wore in 2004 is still referred to as “that dress.” The model and TV personality was attending the Brownlow Medal Ceremony — which honors the best player of the year in the Australian Football League — alongside then-fiancee Chris Judd. The West Australian wrote that Rebecca Judd’s revealing red dress “turned her into a ‘name’ overnight.”