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The Most Iconic On-Stage Looks Of All Time Shakira is the best

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What makes an outfit “iconic”? Surely there’s a philosophical debate to be had on that subject, but we think it all boils down to one basic concept: what we remember. Every so often, a performer takes the stage and blows an audience to pieces — not just with their musical prowess, but with an outfit that will henceforth be burned into our collective consciousness.

We’re talking about career-making ensembles, the ones that sear a musician’s image into our memory for years to come. These looks cover as broad a spectrum as music itself: the flashy to the subdued, the sparkly to the vampy, the sculptural to the very, very fitted. For some celebrities, the standout look might err on the side of infamy — let’s not forget Twerkgate 2013. But, for every childhood-ruining teddy bear bodice, there’s one dotted by fist-sized candy ʙuттons; each reptilian accessory is matched (raised, even) by a gravity-defying bubble sculpture. And, in these cases, you can’t separate the look from the artist.

While this selection is by no means exhaustive (many of the musicians featured have too many looks to choose from), we want to celebrate those impressive get-ups that were as momentous — if not more so — than the performances for which they were worn.

Britney Spears
The year was 2001. Britney was at the top of her Game. To illustrate exactly where she fell on the girl-vs.-woman spectrum, she brought a LIVE SNAKE with her onstage during her MTV VMA performance. Also, abs.

 

Madonna
That Gaultier corset? Duh.

Shakira
Shakira was truth-telling with her hips long before she released a certain song to that effect. Red leather pants and a spangled belly-dancer belt made for a particularly heady dose of truth serum.

Jennifer Lopez
Jenny from the Block, J.Lo; whatever you call her, she’s still the queen of glam.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is arguably the master of the onstage costume. We raise a glᴀss to her, our bottomless font of Halloween inspiration.

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