Here’s a weird feeling: realizing that 1996 was 20 years ago. Weirder still is looking back on photos from then and being like, “Wow, how was 1996 so 1996?” Deep in the middle of an odd decade, 1996 was the year we reached peak Spice Girls aesthetic: crop tops, velvet suits, “quirky” hats. The red carpet at the 1996 VMAs captures that better than anything else.
Rick Rubin looks exactly like he did 20 years ago.
Well before Gigi and Kendall popularized the crop tops of the 21st century, there was basketball player Dennis Rodman, who wore his best silky crop top with corduroy pants.
Busta Rhymes showed up giving his best Where’s Waldo.
Yes, the guy who won a Grammy over Beyoncé — inciting Kanye West to pull yet another Kanye — Beck won a Moonman for Best Male Video with “Where It’s At.”
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer, also known as Gigi Hadid’s role model, walked the VMAs carpet. Gigi was 1 years old in 1996.
Gwyneth Paltrow attended the event in a red velvet suit, which is about as ’90s as you can get.
LL COOL J
Here is LL Cool J, wearing head-to-toe leather at the beginning of September in New York City. Very brave.
Mariah Carey walked away with no awards, but rest assured she was one of the best dressed.
Jenny McCarthy freed the nipple years before #freethenipple.
GWEN STEFANI WITH NO DOUBT
The relatively unknown No Doubt played the preshow for the event. In 1997, they would win their first VMA for Best Group Video.
Chris Rock wore this hat. He has fun.
SNOOP DOGG AND TUPAC SHAKUR
Most notably, the 1996 VMAs marked the last public appearance by Tupac Shakur. He was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting three days later in Las Vegas.