Lady Gaga's Biggest Fashion Risks We'll Never Forget

When it comes to pop stars, Lady Gaga is one of the biggest risk-takers out there. Not only has she taken lots of fashion risks throughout her career, but she's also taken lots of different kinds of fashion risks. From wearing wildly high platforms and edgy wigs to making grand entrances while being carried inside of a giant "egg," there are few things that Lady Gaga hasn't tried. That said, some looks stand out above the others.


While Lady Gaga has toned her look down at certain points throughout her career, like she did in the cut-off shorts and cowboy boots of the "Joanne" era, or in her era of old-school glam duets with Tony Bennett, even some of her more low-key looks feel like a risk. What could be a bigger risk than simple glamour when you're already known for over-the-top artsy styles? While some might say Lady Gaga's fashion choices are outfits that went off the rails, others might say she's a free-thinking fashion icon. No matter what camp you fall in, there are plenty of eye-catching and jaw-dropping styles to analyze and appreciate.

Lady Gaga's face-covering lace at the 2009 VMAs left everyone seeing red

When accepting her award for Best New Artist at the 2009 VMAs, 23-year-old Lady Gaga wore a red lace dress that was both revealing and obscuring at the same time. While the dress was see-through, it covered her hands, neck, and face. The look was completed with a tall red headdress, which only added to the drama and intrigue of the look.


This lacy, racy red dress was definitely risky but was relatively tame compared to the dramatic performance she gave at the VMAs that year, when she sang songs from her debut album "The Fame." While wearing a white gem-encrusted and stomach-bearing bodysuit, Gaga went from banging on a piano to dousing herself in fake blood, and finally being hoisted up by a rope. This stand-out performance commanded attention and helped establish Lady Gaga as an artistic risk-taker.

Lady Gaga creates a stir in the infamous meat dress at the 2010 VMAs

Lady Gaga's meat dress, an iconic fashion moment and possibly her riskiest look ever, truly got people talking. Understandably, some found it offensive, which Gaga addressed with Ellen DeGeneres, saying "Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian. As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the Earth. However, it has many interpretations, but for me this evening ... If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And I am not a piece of meat," per HyNews on YouTube


Besides the dress itself, the construction of the dress was also fascinating. Lady Gaga worked with a creative team to make it, telling British Vogue (via YouTube), "It smelled like meat. It was thrilling to wear. There's a corset under [it] but the corset was sewn to the meat. So this is actually a garment. They didn't just drape meat over me and cross their fingers."

Designer Franc Fernandez who helped make the dress said to Witness History in 2023 (via BBC Sounds), "There's like a serial-killer energy to it ... it's got like a horror-movie energy to it." While some may have forgotten about the meat dress, its legacy continues. After being worn, the dress was preserved with taxidermy techniques and is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Lady Gaga makes an enigmatic entrance to the 2011 Grammys

After pulling a stunt like wearing a dress made of meat, it didn't seem possible to push the envelope any further, but that didn't stop Lady Gaga from trying. One of her next most notable looks wasn't just an outfit made with unconventional materials; it was practically a performance piece. Entering the 2011 Grammys being carried by multiple people, Gaga wasn't even fully visible in the murky translucent contraption. She later told British Vogue, "Everyone calls this the egg but it's actually a vessel that was designed by Hussein Chalayan." She also explained the importance of achieving the right look, saying, "I was very particular about the way the fashion looked for this performance in so much as the night before the performance I said, 'The fashion's wrong, we don't have it. We need it to be latex. We need nude latex.'"


While the right look was important, that wasn't the only thing that mattered when it came to the egg, or vessel. The experience of it had meaning for her as well, which she also opened up about: "I was in the egg for three days. To be honest, at award shows, especially during this time, I didn't like to talk to people. I always felt that it threw me off with my performance so this in a lot of ways is really representative of my devotion to my craft in that I really wanted to be with myself."

Lady Gaga shows off her wild style on the 2011 Thierry Mugler catwalk

At one point, Lady Gaga wore incomprehensibly high platform shoes on a pretty regular basis. That said, she'd never strutted down a runway in them until her catwalk debut at the Thierry Mugler fall-winter 2011-12 fashion show. At the show, she modeled a couple of different looks, but the wildest one was the white gown. Not only did it feature a sheer top with a corset, mock neck, and long sleeves, but the long satiny skirt with flowing fabric also added a lot of drama to the style. 


The styling also had a truly stand-out and Gaga-esque feel to it, as well. The look was accessorized with a large, wide-brimmed white hat. When it came to hair and makeup, she wore some extreme hair extensions in high pigtails along with bold, artistic eyeliner and intense, dark talon-like fingernails.

Lady Gaga rides into the 2013 AMAs on a white horse

At the 2013 American Music Awards, Lady Gaga was once again making a grand entrance. This time, however, she was doing it with more elegance than when she was carried into the 2011 Grammys in an alien-esque vessel. On the red carpet, Gaga donned a sophisticated lavender Versace dress while riding on a white faux-horse, with two people operating the legs, and a third person in front leading.


Sitting side-saddle, Lady Gaga and her long, softly-waved blond hair looked like something from a fairy tale. And, while it may not have been one of the times Lady Gaga went makeup-free and looked amazing, her makeup was soft and ethereal, a complete 180 from her usual looks. She accessorized her dress with a large silver chain that circled both her neck and waist, and some lavender platform heels.

Talking to Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet, Gaga explained how her outfit tied in with her new album, saying, "So much of 'Artpop' is an infusion of disco. It's very Bianca Jagger arriving at Studio 54 on her white horse," per E! News

Lady Gaga dons some eye-popping plaid to a 2013 press conference

A confluence of bold patterns and shapes, Lady Gaga's plaid outfit that she wore to a 2013 press conference in Japan was both risky and intriguing. At the press conference, Lady Gaga posed alongside a series of Gagadolls, which were life-sized silicone dolls that looked exactly like Gaga and even wore some of the exact same outfits that she'd worn to past events.


While the Gagadolls might have seemed like they would have been the most attention-grabbing part of the event, the real spectacle was the outfit that Gaga wore herself. Her plaid jumpsuit wasn't your average jumpsuit — it also featured a large spiral that encircled her body from her shoulders to her feet.

She paired the look with some dark, long, and sharp talon-like nails, but it's her hairstyle that truly stood out. Featuring two large hair horns, or small beehives depending on how you view it, her hairstyle was super voluminous, and the light-blue streaks near the front of her hairstyle created an interesting contrast with her red outfit.

Lady Gaga dazzles in a Jack Irving look

During her 2014 "ArtRave: The Artpop Ball" tour in Paris, Lady Gaga donned a bold outfit from Jack Irving's "Enigma" collection. If anyone was in doubt about her star power, there was no denying the way she rocked this wild, glittering look, that could have easily overtaken someone less confident. When Gaga first arrived at the event, she showed off how the outfit could inflate and deflate. She paired the scintillating, holographic piece with tubular spikes with a bold dark lip, and pulled her dark hair into a simple high pony. She also wore dark tights and red high heels.


Jack Irving is known for intriguing sculptural shapes and a range of both natural and man-made influences, finding the ocean and Las Vegas both influential to his work. In a 2019 interview with Out, Irving said "I have this muse character in my head, an alien showgirl," which, if you ask us, perfectly describes Gaga's aesthetic.

Lady Gaga is all class and crystals at the 2015 Oscars

While the glitzy crystal Azzedine Alaia gown that Lady Gaga wore to the 2015 Oscars may not have seemed particularly risky, the reality is that this simple and glamorous gown was a risk for Lady Gaga, as it took her style into new and more subdued territory. Of course, the elegant gown still had a little bit of a Gaga-like edge to it, with her bold-colored accessories and the interesting shape of the sleeves. Even though some may have considered her one of the worst-dressed celebs in Oscars history for this look, others might say Gaga found a way to be both sophisticated and unique.


On her Instagram, Gaga detailed all the effort that went into her Oscars look, writing, "I will never forget tonight. #Oscars thank you Azzedine Alaia for this stunning piece. It took 1600 [hours] of embroidery and 25 people in Paris ..."

Channeling David Bowie is what Lady Gaga does best at the 2016 Grammys

At the 2016 Grammys, Lady Gaga didn't just take a risk with her outfits; she took a risk with her hair as well. Channeling David Bowie, she walked the red carpet in a bold blue dress with large shoulder pads and a ton of intricate embroidery. The color itself was striking, but even more eye-catching was the way it contrasted with her bright-orange shoulder-length hair. She paired it with some equally intense blue eyeshadow and some of her trademark super-high red platform heels.


While performing later on, she wore another Bowie-inspired outfit. This time, it was a white jumpsuit with silver sequins and detailing, and of course some large interestingly-shaped shoulder pads. Gaga has never kept her love of Bowie a secret; in a 2016 interview with NPR, she made her devotion to the British icon clear, saying, "I mean, I feel like my whole career is a tribute to David Bowie."

Lady Gaga dons bold black and bares some underboob at the 2017 Grammys

At the 2017 Grammys, Lady Gaga was turning heads once again. However, this time her look was uniquely hers. The seriously skin-bearing latex look she donned was full of interesting textures, including crocodile and fringe. Her top, which was more like a bolero, showed off some serious underboob while still creating a vibe of mystery. She paired her top with some short high-waisted latex bottoms and a low-slung belt with multiple chains. 


Gaga accessorized with some fishnets, and (what else?) super-high platform thigh-high boots. She wore some sunglasses, long gunmetal silver fingernails, and hot-pink lipstick. Her beachy waves were pulled back in a ponytail, and contained some tinges of rose gold in them, too. Everything about the look came together to create a style that was somehow both dramatic and fun, with vibes that were both dominatrix-y and carefree all at once.

Lady Gaga looks like the queen she is at a premiere of A Star Is Born

At the U.K. premiere of "A Star Is Born," Lady Gaga looked like a literal queen from the Elizabethan era. Even though making strong style statements is the norm for Gaga, this Alexander McQueen gown took things in a new direction. With toned-down makeup and her platinum hair styled up in a low-key but intricate bun, all of the focus was on Lady Gaga's stand-out dress. 


Featuring a small neck ruff, a chest cut-out, and tons of gold embroidery and pearls, this look was rich with details. The puff sleeves, drop waist, and full white skirt with a gold diamond pattern on it also make it choc-full of historically inspired design elements. With the way that Gaga's outfit is styled, she's managed to walk the line between historical charm and "costumey" with ease, while also finding a whole new way to take fashion risks, which is no small feat for Gaga.

Lady Gaga turns heads in horizontal stripes and a vertical headdress

Lady Gaga's Met Gala look in 2019 fit the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" theme perfectly (adhering to a dress code is a Met Gala rule all attendees must follow), but it was her pre-Met look that offered the most visual interest. With horizontal stripes and a vertical headdress, there was a lot for the eye to follow. 


The short black-and-white Marc Jacobs dress featured lots of voluminous ruffles and some feathery details at the neck. Gaga's tall black headpiece was designed by Philip Treacy, and to make the look even more interesting, she carried one of the tiniest black handbags ever. Some simple black tights and platform pleaser boots kept the focus on the 'fit. Gaga's makeup was also simple and glam, with some cat-eye eyeliner and a soft-pink lip. Her other accessories, like sunglasses and dangling diamond earrings, added a touch of refined glamour to the over-the-top frilly look.

At the 2020 VMAs, Lady Gaga shows off wild pandemic fashion

During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was changing a lot of things, including fashion. Many were wearing masks, and finding ways to make them coordinate with their looks. Lady Gaga at the VMAs is a great example of this. Arguably the best (and definitely the riskiest) look that Gaga wore that night was a multi-color Iris Van Herpen dress that she donned to accept a Best Collaboration award. 


With the rainbow colors and the super-thin laser-cut strips, the gown looks almost holographic and can be a lot to take in at first glance. The overall effect, though, is totally scintillating, and what's even more noteworthy is that her hot-pink mask went perfectly with the look. The rest of the style was low-key in comparison, with Gaga's long silver hair cascading down her front. She also had long two-tone turquoise nails and some tall black pleaser boots.

Lady Gaga looks refined and dramatic in custom Christian Siriano

Over time, Lady Gaga toned her style down and opted for more classic and glam looks. That doesn't mean she lost her flair for taking things over-the-top in a way that works. One great example of this is when Gaga was spotted out in New York in a custom Christian Siriano outfit. On her way to an MTV Unplugged concert she was performing at with Tony Bennett, she could be seen in the pencil skirt and blouse. 


The look was incredibly elegant, with simple black pumps, cat-eye sunglasses, red lipstick, and a sleek updo. Small round earrings and a small structured handbag completed it, but what made the outfit risky (and amazing) was the enormous puff sleeves on the pale-gray blouse with black polka dots. The billowy sleeves added a ton of volume and interest, and fell almost down past Gaga's knees.

Lady Gaga goes all out in Gucci at the 2022 Critic's Choice Awards

At the 2022 Critic's Choice Awards, where Lady Gaga was nominated for the role of Patrizia in " The House of Gucci," she struck a balance that was both edgy and classy. Simple colors and bold cutouts made her gown a true head-turner. The gold gown featured a train and gem detailing on the stomach and a black lining at the hem. The top of the dress was what really grabbed attention, though, with two separate black cups covering her breasts and baring a large portion of her chest. 


A lacy black shrug with thumb cutouts and a mock neck added some extra drama to the style, and a glitzy bracelet and pair of earrings upped the level of glamour, too. Gaga wore her platinum hair in a sleek updo, and wore a peachy lip, with a smokey gold eye and some long, nude, cappuccino milk nails.

Lady Gaga's dress is daring and sheer at the 2023 Oscars

Another of Lady Gaga's looks that was both sophisticated and daring was the black gown that she rocked at the 2023 Oscars. Although it may seem simple at first glance, there's a lot to love about this look. Also, despite being completely classy, it has some understated goth vibes to it. The Versace dress featured a sheer, mesh corset and a drop waist that fell particularly low, especially in the back, resulting in a cheeky look. 


The full skirt added plenty of drama, and Gaga paired the gown with simple diamond jewelry that coordinated beautifully with the dress. When it came to hair and makeup, she wore a bright-red lip, bright-pink blush, and some bold eyeliner along with smokey eyeshadow that blended almost all the way up to her temples. Her blond hair was braided and tucked into a small bun at the nape of her neck.