15 Iconic Celebrity Outfits from the ’90s That Would Be Seen as Problematic Now

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The 1990s were known for bold fashion statements when celebrities shocked or awed audiences with their red-carpet outfits. While many outfits were praised for their impeccable craftsmanship and sleek designs, some might not hold today’s audience’s attention. Here are 15 iconic outfits that would be seen as problematic by today’s standards.

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Madonna’s Geisha-Inspired Outfit

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Madonna performed at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards in a dress heavily inspired by Geishas. People praised the dress for giving homage to Japanese culture back then. Still, today, it would be criticized for cultural appropriation as it reduced a significant tradition to a mere costume. Geisha tradition is rich in artistry in Japan’s history while holding deep cultural significance. Using it as a performance costume can be perceived as disrespecting traditional practices.

Kylie Minogue’s Feathered Showgirl Costume

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During her ‘Intimate & Live’ tour in the 90s, Kylie’s costumes featured large feathered headdresses and revealing outfits. Feathers play a crucial significance in indigenous cultures worldwide, and doing this not only promotes cultural insensitivity but also portrays women as objects of spectacle. People of this generation expect more respect towards one’s culture and also avoid the objectification of women.

Cher’s Native American Headdress

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Though Cher was famous for Native American headdresses in the 1970s and 80s, she could sometimes be seen wearing headdresses in the 1990s. Just like Kylie, she would also receive criticism now for promoting cultural appropriation and using a symbol of spirituality for Native Americans as mere props. People would not want others to use such significant things without understanding or respecting the purpose behind them.

Victoria Beckham’s 1999 Union Jack Dress

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This tiny dress, which included a British flag design, was donned by Victoria Beckham and is also called the Union Jack dress. 1999 was marked by the “waif” trend and skimpy clothing. Thus, the outfit was apt for that time zone because it emphasized the thin culture. However, a world focused on body positivity and inclusivity may not accept this. Today, it promotes unrealistic beauty standards, so this outfit will likely be rejected as controversial in 2024.

Björk’s 2001 Swan Dress

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The next Red Carpet Look that may be considered controversial is Björk’s 2001 swan dress. This glam outfit, without a doubt, stands out with exemplary artistic merit and boldness. The outfit was created with themes of vulnerability and transformation in mind. Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski, for the K-T-Z label, designed this look for Björk. The dress drew reference to an egg on the red carpet. Currently, cruelty-free alternatives are kept in mind; thus, this will receive criticism.

Milla Jovovich’s Bandage Dress

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Model and actress Milla Jovovich wore a bandage dress at ‘The Fifth Element’ premiere in 1999. What? Yes, it was made of tightly wrapped fabric strips and was both a daring and bold act. Now, people label it too revealing and provocative for a public event. According to them, the dress shows the fine line between body-hugging and revealing.

Sharon Stone’s Gap Turtleneck and Valentino Skirt

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Sharon Stone’s outfit at the Oscars in 1996 featured a plain white Gap turtleneck paired with a Valentino skirt. While you may think there’s nothing wrong with the combination as it encourages simplicity and accessibility, people might criticize it for not adhering to Oscar’s standard. The top and the skirt might be considered too casual and revealing to those who favor formal and modest attire more.

Whoopi Goldberg’s Cyborg Queen Catsuit

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Whoopi Goldberg is known for having an erratic style in fashion, whether it was the Oscars or the Cyborg Queen catsuit show worn in the 90s. She looked like interplanetary royalty with blue hair and a silver holographic catsuit, but this bizarre styling may astonish today’s audience. This might be considered an awful choice to wear and criticized for not maintaining professionalism at such big shows.

Lady Gaga’s 2010 VMAs Meat Dress

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Titled as the “Most Outrageous Fashion Moment,” the next glam outfit is Lady Gaga’s. She wore a meat dress to raise awareness of factory farming and the meat industry’s treatment of animals. The issue with the dress was that it, in no way, promoted eco-friendly fashion choices and received mixed reviews. It might be slammed as offensive and disrespectful today.

John Galliano’s 2011 Dior Dress

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John Galliano donned a racist caricature dress in 2011. His caricature attire was for Dior. It sparked outrage because people felt that it was a bit prejudiced. He was dismissed from the fashion house, too, because of this. It is likely to face scrutiny from social media. Public pressure and potential career repercussions add to the list of issues. In today’s world, people concentrate on diversity and cultural understanding.

Alexander McQueen’s 1995 Bumster Pants

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Alexander McQueen wore bumster pants in 1995. This was regarded as something that brought about a change in the notions of femininity and sexuality. Because of how people might infer these pants, it would lead to a more nuanced discussion in today’s time. Now, we celebrate diversity in body types. Fashion enthusiasts focus on female empowerment and the representation of women, which may not be fulfilled with Alexander McQueen’s 1995 pants.

Donatella Versace’s 1999 Safety Pin Dress

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Donatella Versace’s safety pin dress became a showstopper in no time. Even though Donatella Versace’s dress gained popularity, it emphasized “skinny” to a great extent. But now, its focus might just be unrealistic beauty standards. Today’s fashion celebrates body diversity and self-acceptance in fashion, and hence, this Red Carpet look won’t be accepted.

Miley Cyrus’s 2013 VMAs Latex Outfit

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The 2013 VMAs featured a plethora of dazzling outfits. One of these was Miley Cyrus’s latex two-piece. This outfit matched her controversial “Wrecking Ball” aura. This outfit might ignite Red Carpet controversies in 2024. It was overly sexualized. People felt that it exploited female sexuality solely for attention. There are plenty of ways to celebrate female sexuality respectfully.

Kurt Cobain’s Grunge Fashion

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In the 90s, his grunge fashion was characterized by flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and unkempt hair, which soon became synonymous with the anti-establishment attitude of his alternative rock scene. However, such fashion styles may receive criticism in today’s time because they romanticize poverty and mental illness. Though his style reflected his authenticity and contempt for commercialism, it was associated with drug addiction and depression, which people would not want to glamourize now.

Gwen Stefani’s Bindi Phase

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One thing that could be seen on Stefani’s forehead in the 90s was a ‘bindi’. It’s worn by women in South Asia, particularly Hindus. While people were amazed then, it might receive criticism for cultural appropriation now. The bindi is not just limited to being a decorative mark; it holds much deeper religious significance in people’s hearts, and using it as a fashion accessory would be considered unacceptable today.

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