From the grunge trend coined by Nirvana in the early ’90s, to Michael Jackson’s armor-like legwear, the MTV Video Music Awards has been the stage for some of the most memorable and outrageous celebrity denim style.
The connection between denim and music was established long before the MTV Video Music Awards debuted in 1984, but the annual event, taking place this year on Aug. 20 in New York City, has served as a documentarian of denim fashion for more than three decades.
Artists from every music genre imaginable—from folk to rap—have embraced the double denim look. Some better than others. Jewel paired a denim vest with boot cut jeans. Kanye West wore head-to-toe vintage wash repaired denim. Songstress Toni Braxton decided to forgo a blouse under her denim duster and trousers, while Busta Rhymes coordinated jeans and a denim and suede jacket with denim Timberland boots.
Streetwear brands were mainstays on the red carpet in the early aughts. Jennifer Lopez famously wore skin tight Sean John, her then-boyfriend Sean “Puffy” Combs’ line. Jay-Z wore his own Rocawear label.
Rockers like Nirvana and the men of No Doubt opted for relaxed fit, vintage washes. Lenny Kravitz and Joss Stone embraced their inner-bohemian with retro flares and patchwork denim. And boot cut jeans became a pop star signature, thanks to Lindsay Lohan, Ricky Martin and the men of NSYNC sporting the style.
There was a lull of denim fashion in the late 2000s as celebrities began to favor designer labels, suiting and gowns—and “meat” dresses à la Lady Gaga in 2010. However, Kate Perry reintroduced denim to the red carpet in 2014 with a denim gown that paid homage to the famous denim dress Britney Spears wore to the 2001 American Music Awards.
And G-Star “head of imagination” Pharrell Williams and wife Helene repped the brand in 2015 with coordinating denim ensembles.