Oftentimes at the MTV Video Music Awards, the red carpet is the focus. But in the last 35 years since the ceremony first began, fashion history has really been made on the stage. Remember Madonna’s wedding look? She debuted it at the VMAs in 1984. Or how about Britney Spears wearing a yellow snake as an accessory? That also happened at the VMAs. Fashion designers have been riffing off these images for decades, which is why it made sense for MTV to invite five emerging New York labels — Barragán, No Sesso, Collina Strada, Gauntlett Cheng, and Vaquera — to recreate some of the ceremony’s most memorable outfits, ahead of the VMAs being held in Brooklyn on Sunday, September 12.
“Growing up in Mexico, I looked forward to the VMAs every year to keep up with American pop culture,” said Victor Barragán, the designer behind Barragán, whose pieces for the show riffed on costumes worn by J.Lo, Janet Jackson, and, of course, Madonna. “I was so inspired by its surprise elements, and the raw and unapologetic displays of fashion and performances that came with it.”
Other labels like Gauntlett Cheng and Collina Strada looked to the ’90s for inspiration. “We grew up with Britney,” said Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng, who chose Britney’s “Oops I Did It Again” performance from 2000 as their jumping off point. “That performance was such a coming out. First time we saw she had a tattoo, first time we saw her belly ring. Her reveal was so iconic and just a tiny bit naughty. We felt that when we were young and so fun to tap into it again.”
Below, take a closer look at how each New York–based designer interpreted some of the most memorable moment’s from VMAs past, from Vaquera to No Sesso.