20 of the most iconic red-carpet looks from the '90s

  • In the 1990s, celebrities walked the red carpet in iconic and memorable ensembles.

  • Rose McGowan and Lil' Kim revealed a lot of skin in their most famous looks from the decade.

  • Brad Pitt and Drew Barrymore both famously dressed down for the red carpet.

From animal prints to completely see-through dresses, red carpets in the 1990s were filled with iconic outfits.

Throughout the decade, celebrities attended events in headline-making ensembles. While some looks were truly out there, others were unforgettable because of their simplicity.

Here are 20 of the most memorable looks seen on the red carpet in the '90s.

Julia Roberts wore a men's suit to the 1990 Golden Globe Awards.

julia roberts men suit
Julia Roberts at the 1990 Golden Globes.Ron Galella, Ltd. / Getty

When Roberts won her first Golden Globe in 1990 for her role in "Steel Magnolias," she decided to wear a Giorgio Armani men's suit she bought off the rack.

"I loved the shape of it," she told InStyle in 2014, Glamour reported. "For me, this was the epitome of being dressed up."

Drew Barrymore became the queen of casual attire on red carpets, like this everyday look at the 1991 "Guilty by Suspicion" premiere.

drew barrymore 1991
Drew Barrymore in 1991.Ron Galella / Getty

Barrymore was often seen sporting grungy, casual wear on red carpets. Here, she wore ripped jeans with a button-up sweater.

"Along with Winona Ryder and Kate Moss, Drew Barrymore gloried in grunge back in the '90s," Vogue's Susan Devaney wrote in 2020. "The 'ET' actor loved a pair of well-worn boots and a battered leather jacket just as much as she did her colourful cardis and Vivienne Westwood heels. With her cherubic curls and daisy choker chains, Barrymore tempered her goth aesthetic with cutesy touches."

Madonna famously dressed as Marilyn Monroe when she took a bedazzled Michael Jackson as her date to the 1991 Academy Awards.

madonna and michael jackson 1991 oscars
Michael Jackson and Madonna at the 1991 Academy Awards.David McGough / Getty

Madonna showed up to the award show's after-party dressed as the Old Hollywood star. The musician was wearing Harry Winston diamonds, which cost $20 million, Time magazine reported in 2019. The dress itself was designed by Bob Mackie, who designed the dress that Monroe wore when she sang to President John F. Kennedy, according to Entertainment Weekly.

The king of pop was her date for the evening, and in 2018, she called it the "best date ever," Billboard reported.

In 1993, Brad Pitt turned up at a Hollywood movie premiere wearing just a paisley button-down shirt and pants.

brad pitt
Brad Pitt in 1993.Ron Galella, Ltd. / Getty

Pitt's outfit at the 1993 "True Romance" premiere is memorable for its simplicity.

"Though he can — and has — pulled off a basic T-shirt and jeans, Pitt has a gift for the unexpected," Vogue's Janelle Okwodu wrote. "In the '90s, that meant long beachy waves and paisley shirts at events where everyone else was decked out in black tie—his boho 'True Romance' premiere outfit is still a thing of beauty."

Whoopi Goldberg's colorful ensemble at the 1993 Academy Awards is still a memorable look.

whoopi goldberg 1993 oscars dress
Whoopi Goldberg at the 1993 Oscars.KMazur / Getty

"Whoopi Goldberg eschewed the tyranny of black tie to wear a dress, a jumpsuit and a cape in purple and lime green brocade, simultaneously," the Guardian's Morwenna Ferrier wrote. "The look, 'inspired' by Disney, almost worked. This was the 90s, after all ... Sadly, it tanked."

Halle Berry paired a fringe top with blue jeans at the MTV Movie Awards in 1993.

halle berry 1993
Halle Berry in 1993 at the MTV Movie Awards.Ron Galella, Ltd. / Getty

The actress' fringe top became an iconic fashion moment in the '90s: Elle has called it one of the "most outrageous red carpet moments."

In 1994, Princess Diana wore a simple black dress that became known as the "revenge dress."

revenge dress little black dress princess diana
Princess Diana's "revenge dress."Jayne Fincher/Getty Images

Princess Diana wore this dress to an event at the Serpentine Gallery in London — the same night King Charles' documentary premiered, detailing the ways he'd been unfaithful to the princess, The New York Times reported in 1994.

Some say the princess' dress, which was designed by Christina Stambolian, was her way of showing she was above the drama and marked a departure from the buttoned-up royal family.

The dress Elizabeth Hurley wore at a movie premiere in 1994 helped launch her career.

elizabeth hurley pin dress
Elizabeth Hurley atDave Benett / Getty

In 1994, Hurley attended the premiere of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" with her then-boyfriend, Hugh Grant, who was the star of the film. But Hurley was the one who got the spotlight when she showed up in a Versace dress with slits held together with gold safety pins.

"This accidental statement would change the trajectory of Hurley's career, thrusting her out of Grant's shadow and into the international spotlight," Oscar Holland at CNN wrote in 2020.

Leonardo DiCaprio's loose suit made a statement in the '90s.

leonardo dicaprio 1995
Leonardo DiCaprio in 1995.Steve Granitz / Getty

In 1995, DiCaprio wore a loose-fitting suit to the premiere of his film "The Basketball Diaries."

"Just take a styling tip from 21-year-old DiCaprio: leave the top button of your shirt undone, layer its collar over your lapels and top it off with a beaded necklace," GQ's Faye Fearon wrote in 2020, while also naming this look one of the actor's best.

Mira Sorvino wowed on the red carpet of the 1996 Academy Awards in this simple gown.

mira sorvino 1996 oscars
Mira Sorvino at the 1996 Academy Awards.Steve Granitz / Getty

In 1996, Sorvino won her first Oscar for her role in "Mighty Aphrodite." To the ceremony, she wore an Armani princess gown in a light mint color.

Mary J. Blige turned heads in her leopard-print outfit at the 1996 Grammy Awards.

mary j blige 1996 grammy awards
Mary J. Blige at the 1996 Grammy Awards.Steve Granitz / Getty

In 1996, Blige accepted her Grammy for best rap performance by a duo or group while wearing head-to-toe animal print. The pants and matching hoodie were complemented by black sunglasses and gloves.

Mariah Carey wore a two-piece dress to the 1997 MTV Music Video Awards.

Mariah Carey at the 1997 MTV Music Awards.
Mariah Carey at the 1997 MTV Music Awards.Jim Spellman/WireImage

Although it may not seem like it now, Carey's dress in 1997 was considered controversial because of the amount of skin she showed.

"Carey's stripped-back VMA look served as a rejection of the preceding decade, combining monochrome glamour with her newfound sensuality" after her separation from husband Tommy Mottola, the CEO of her then-label Sony, CNN reported in 2021.

At the 1997 Brit Awards, the Spice Girls debuted their signature styles.

spice girls 1997 brit awards
The Spice Girls at the Brit Awards.Photoshot / Getty

In 1997, the Spice Girls made their national TV debut on the Brit Awards, Harper's Bazaar reported in 2018. The outfits they wore on stage and on the red carpet also became synonymous with the group.

For example, Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell's Union Jack dress is still replicated today as a Halloween costume.

In 1998, actress Rose McGowan arrived at the MTV Video Music Awards wearing nothing but a see-through beaded dress and thong.

Rose McGowan at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 10, 1998.
Rose McGowan at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 10, 1998.Ron Galella/Getty Images

At the time, it may have seemed like a publicity stunt, but in 2019, McGowan revealed the dress had a much deeper meaning.

"I did that for a reason. It was my first public appearance after being raped," she told fellow actress Jameela Jamil in 2019, People reported. "And I thought, it was kind of like Russell Crowe and 'Gladiator' when it comes out in the ring and he's like, 'Are you not entertained?' And that was why I did that. That was my response to being assaulted."

In 1998, Sharon Stone sparked a fashion movement when she matched a high-end brand with a shirt from the Gap at the Academy Awards.

sharon stone 1998 oscars
Sharon Stone at the 1998 Oscars.Mychal Watts / Getty

At the 1998 Oscars, Stone showed up in a button-down white top from the Gap that was tucked into a purple skirt from Vera Wang.

Gwyneth Paltrow's bright-pink, simple dress at the 1999 Academy Awards was an iconic fashion moment.

gwentyth paltrow 199 oscars dress
Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Oscars.Frank Trapper / Getty

In 1999, Paltrow accepted her Oscar for her role in "Shakespeare in Love" in the now-iconic pink dress. In fact, Bustle described the pink gown designed by Ralph Lauren as "the one Oscar dress that defined the '90s."

The actress wore the bubblegum-pink gown with a matching pink shawl and a Harry Winston diamond jewelry set.

Marie Claire reported that rather than working with a stylist, Paltrow selected the dress herself from a Ralph Lauren store a few days prior to the event.

Celine Dion wore a backward tuxedo to the 1999 Academy Awards, and it was considered an iconic fashion fail.

celine deon oscars 1999
Celine Dion at the 1999 Academy Awards.Steve Granitz / Getty

Dion wore the John Galliano tuxedo to the Oscars and, as InStyle reported, the outfit was panned. However, it still went down in fashion history.

"When I wore that look, yes it was at the Oscars, and when I wore that, everyone was wearing dresses, not pants," she told People in 2017. "I was the only one with pants in a backward suit from Galliano and if I would do this today it would work. It was avant-garde at the time. And it doesn't matter, you just have to assume what you wear, you wear, and I did."

Lil' Kim wore a revealing dress to MTV's Video Music Awards in 1999.

lil kim 1999 vmas
Lil' Kim at the 1999 VMAs.KMazur / Getty

Lil' Kim shocked audiences when she showed up to the VMAs in a sequined outfit designed by Misa Hylton, Vogue reported. It revealed one breast covered only by a bedazzled pasty.

"When she stepped onto the stage at the 1999 ceremony, she created an instantly iconic moment thanks to her bold outfit and the swagger with which she wore it," Vogue wrote about the bold ensemble. "The custom piece by Misa Hylton has since set the standard for attention-grabbing awards-show fashion."

Britney Spears wore a sheer dress covered in polka dots to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.

brittney spears 1999 vmas
Brittney Spears at the 1999 VMAs.Kevin Mazur/ Getty

Spears was a rising star at the time — she'd released her first single, "...Baby One More Time," the year prior. Her red-carpet style was still in development but this black ensemble foreshadowed her bold fashion choices to come.

Insider reporter Hayley Peppin called the look one of the most daring outfits Britney Spears has ever worn.

The girl group TLC created another iconic fashion moment at Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards in 1999.

tlc in 1999
TLC at the Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards in 1999.Steve Granitz / Getty

The girls of TLC showed up to the Kids Choice Awards in matching outfits. Together, letters on their tops spelled out the name of the group.

"When you're as small as we are, you don't need a bra all the time," Rozonda "Chili" Thomas told W Magazine in 2017. "The measurement was spot on."

Read the original article on Insider