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Seven most controversial looks on the red carpet

By Nazeefa Ahmed, August 10 2022

Red carpets are a show of opulence. Hundreds of hours are spent planning, embroidering and fitting lavish gowns that are only to be worn for a night and forgotten about soon after. Yet, they represent the best of couture, an art form that is appreciated across the globe by people of all areas of expertise. The following are some gowns that caused a greater stir than others.  

  1. Kim Kardashian, 2022

The billionaire decided to wear Marilyn Manroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday” Dress to the 2022 Met Gala. The dress was designed to fit Manroe only, with the silhouette and colour creating a nude effect. Controversy began when photos of missing rhinestones surfaced on the internet post Met Gala, though the Kardashian claims not to have damaged it. Kim’s rapid weight loss to fit into the dress was also under scrutiny, as she lost 16 pounds in three weeks. Overall, people were unhappy that she haphazardly wore an important piece of American history for a night out. 

  1. Revenge Dress, Diana

In a life-time of conflict with her in-laws and husband, the Princess of Wales found power in fashion. Her choices in the 90s symbolized independence and female empowerment. It was not surprising then that the little black dress made history. Unlike the conservative styles worn by the women in the royal family, Diana broke through the mold and stood on her own in a figure-hugging silhouette that was ahead of its time. The dress complimented her confidence, showing the public that she was no longer a naive teenager, but rather a proud and independent woman in her thirties who would not let the royal family define her. 

  1. Justin and Hailey, Met 2021

The couple caused controversy not for what they wore, but what they didn’t. It was apparent to much that Bieber and Baldwin did not try to match the theme of Old Hollywood. The Saint Laurant dress worn by Baldwin was mediocre to say the least. That, paired with Bieber’s basic suit showed the public that they did not bother to dress the part for the prestigious event. 

  1. Bella Hadid, 2021 Cannes Film Festival

As the decades have gone by, cutouts in dresses have become commonplace. Showing some skin is expected, but the younger Hadid sister took this to another level. The look was surreal, with a scoop neckline, and a root-line neck piece to cover her chest. In a Life In Looks interview with Vogue, Hadid revealed that she always knew she would wear this dress one day, and that the necklace was not as heavy as one might expect. Truly, the dress was nothing like we have ever seen and has opened a new chapter of using jewelry as clothing. 

  1. Demi Moore, Oscars 1989

The bizarre look consisted of a Renaissance-style corset, paired with 80s spandex bike shorts. Moore actually made the combination herself, a choice that caused her to be put in “worst-dressed” lists for decades to come. Now, however, as the ugly-chic look becomes popular again, millennials and Gen Z’s have enjoyed the combination. It is interesting to see how something that was once a fashion disaster becomes iconic after some decades.

  1. 2015 Met Gala Rihanna 

Given the theme, China: Through a Looking Glass, the pop legend wore an imperial yellow, fur-trimmed cape designed by Guo Pei. Though Rihanna was praised for choosing a Chinese designer, she was criticized for wearing a cape made of fox fur. Sarah Norrad, a writer for the Elephant Journal estimated that the cape took 100 animals to make. The fur-trim used on the dress killed more animals than a full length fur coat. No statement is worth these many animal lives for a gown that was only worn for one night. 

  1. AOC’s Political Statement

The congresswoman wore a white mermaid-style dress with “Tax the Rich” written in red at the back. The fashion statement triggered strong reactions by the public, who claimed her choice was hypocritical, given that she allegedly has multiple tax warrants and refused to pay interns. AOC also claims to be from working-class roots in the Bronx, even though she grew up in a three-bedroom home in the wealthier Westchester County. Her lack of transparency and misleading statements were the root cause of the dress’ controversy. People were criticizing her, rather than discussing taxation. 

As more red carpet events go by, the public will always have something to say about the gowns that celebrities choose to wear. Their looks are a public statement, representing the peak of modern fashion. Discussing couture inspires people to analyze the social circumstances that lead to certain looks and how they represent our societal norms. 

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