OPINION: Top 5 Most Controversial Protest Fashion Moments in Music Awards History

1- Mon Laferte ‘In Chile they torture, rape, and kill’ 2019

Chilean singer Mon Laferte took a stand against police brutality in her home country at the Latin Grammys in 2019. In an act of defiance, she wrote in black pen across her exposed chest In Chile they torture, rape, and kill’.

It came after a series of violent demonstrations in Chile protesting against the Police Brutality over inequality and inadequate social services, sparked by the Government decision to increase fares for public transport.

She later posted an image of her exposed breasts on the social media platform ‘Instagram’ with the  caption: “My free body for a free country.” The singer had faced controversy for the explicit display. 

2- Lady Gaga ‘Meat Dress’ 2010

Lady Gaga shocked fans at the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards with her politically fuelled ‘meat dress’. It was later named by Time as the top fashion statement of that year despite backlash from animal rights groups. 

Gaga later stated “It’s certainly no disrespect to anyone that’s vegan or vegetarian.” She explained the dress was in protest to the US Government’s treatment of Gay soldiers.

Speaking in a post-Award Show interview, she said: “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.”

Despite this, Gaga’s ‘Meat clothing’ campaign faced controversy from Animal Rights groups, with PETA quoting “Wearing a dress made out cuts of dead cows is offensive enough to bring comment, but someone should whisper in her ear that there are more people who are upset by butchery than who are impressed by it — and that means a lot of young people will not be buying her records if she keeps this stuff up.”

3- Noa Kirel ‘Yellow Ribbon’ 2024 

Israeli pop star Noa Kirel walked the People’s Choice Award Red Carpet dressed in an oversized black jacket adorned with a yellow ribbon, a stark reminder of the 134 Israeli hostages who were in captivity by Hamas at the time. 

Kirel is known for placing third in Eurovision 2023, a competition which has since faced controversy over its decision to reject Israel’s 2024 song submission ‘October Rain’ due to it breaking the contest’s rules on political neutrality. 

The conflict between Israel and Hamas is still ongoing, with many calls from the United Nations and across the globe for ceasefire.

4- Rose McGowan’s ‘Sheer Dress’ 1998

At the 1998 VMAs Rose McGowan stunned attendees with her iconic sheer dress. In a statement to reclaim her body after a traumatic sexual assault, the artist bared all at the award show in a brave act of protest. 

McGowan claims she was assaulted by convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein at a business meeting in 1997.  She was one of the first women to go public about his mistreatment of women. She would later go on to tell her story in her memoir ‘Brave’. 

Speaking on the dress, she said: “That was a political statement. Of course, there was no Twitter at the time or Instagram, no way to speak for yourself.” The dress faced controversy at the time, with some fans slut shaming the actress for her revealing outfit choice.

5-Amber Rose and Blac Chyna ‘Sl*t dresses’ 2015

Musicians Amber Rose and Blac Chyna reclaimed sexist slurs a the 2015 MTV Awards when they showed up in dresses covered in the words ‘sl*t’ ‘h*e’ and ‘golddigger’. The ladies claimed they were looking to embrace the terms that ‘people were going to call us anyways’. 

Rose had previously faced controversy for her background as a stripper.

read more

Written by: Mia Rose
Mia Rose is a Final Year Journalism student at the University of Sheffield. She has experience in feature writing and broadcasting. Mia forms a part of the Website Team at 5678 Magazine.