People often complain about the lack of true personal style on the red carpet these days—but what does true red carpet personal style even look like? Gwen Stefani’s greatest step-and-repeat hits provide an answer.
Originally starting in Southern California’s ska scene, she’s been an increasing red carpet regular since her band No Doubt broke through in 1996. Since then she’s gone solo, served as a John Galliano muse, and once ran her own fashion line, but certain elements of her style have remained the same. She loves graphic black and white, the occasional leopard print, and absolutely adores a Vivienne Westwood frock. Her trademarks of dramatically styled platinum blonde hair and a bright red lip always tie the look together.
Here, ahead of No Doubt’s planned reunion at this year’s Coachella, a history of Gwen’s greatest red carpet hits.
She may be an Orange County girl, but for the 2022 Met Gala she was feeling decidedly lime in a Vera Wang gown.
It was the Camp-themed Met Gala, and Gwen wore one of fashion’s campiest houses: Moschino.
2017: Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards
Let’s be honest, this slimy two-piece set, pulled from Jeremy Scott’s spring 2017 collection, was kind of the perfect thing to wear to the Kids’ Choice Awards.
2013: Monsters University Premiere
Even in laid-back mom-mode, she still manages to keep it stylish in a black jumpsuit and turquoise Quay sunglasses.
2013: The Bling Ring Premiere
As two of our greatest Italian-American illustrators of the inner thoughts of girls, you’d think Stefani and Sofia Coppola would have something to talk about. Alas, Gwen attended the premiere of the director’s The Bling Ring film while on wife duty (her ex-husband, Gavin Rossdale, had a small part in the movie). In any event, Gwen looked great in a Balmain fit.
Technically, Gwen’s roots are in punk’s brassier cousin, ska, but she showed out at the 2013 punk-themed Met Gala in a striking black-and-white gown from Maison Martin Margiela.
2012: “My Valentine” Premiere Party
For the release of this Paul McCartney project, she wore a daring ensemble designed by his daughter, Stella McCartney.
2011: Cannes Film Festival
On stage or off, Stefani has a thing for graphic black-and-white. This Giorgio Armani gown she wore in Cannes was a stunning example of the style in action.
Few celebrities wear their own label to the Met Gala. Even fewer manage to actually look good in it—but this golden creation from Stefani’s own L.A.M.B was a knockout. According to her hairstylist Danilo, the fabric was sourced from the 1930s.
2009: Vanity Fair Oscars After Party
Stefani wore Chanel Haute Couture for the 2009 edition of VF’s annual Hollywood shindig.
It can be a struggle to find red carpet-appropriate maternity-wear, so Stefani just designed some herself. This is L.A.M.B.
2005: “The Girls At The Lido Of Paris” Book Launch
This was a major Dior dress for a relatively low-key book launch event. She looks as if she were drawn by Erté himself.
2005: Vanity Fair Oscars After Party
You should Google multiple angles of this Atelier Versace dress, because it’s really all about how the sequins catch the light. Plus, the delicately beaded back is a moment unto itself.
If this look seems “quintessentially Gwen,” maybe it’s because it’s also from her own label, L.A.M.B.
2004: The Aviator Premiere
Stefani’s sole sojourn into film acting was a few scenes opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in a Martin Scorsese movie. She played Old Hollywood goddess Jean Harlow, and she wore a romantic pink Vivienne Westwood gown to the premiere. If that’s not some sort of fantasy, we don’t know what is.
The VMAs were held in Miami that year (the town where Bettie Page got her start). Gwen looked pure pin-up glam in this Marc Jacobs-designed Louis Vuitton look.
2004: Billboard Music Awards
Stefani wears Vivienne Westwood, and, for better or worse, did not pose for one red carpet photo in the label without her then-backup dancers, the Harajuku Girls.
2004: MTV European Music Awards
Nailing her lost storybook princess theme.
Who can wear an ab-baring Vivienne Westwood sailor outfit to the premiere of a Will Ferrell comedy and make it work? Well, only one person in the history of the world so far.
Attending as a presenter, Stefani pulled vintage Valentino Haute Couture for the Golden Globes. The dress was originally worn on the runway by Carla Bruni as part of the spring 1995 collection.
She was red and white all over in Paris for Dior.
2003: Dior Dance for Life
Of course, Stefani was among the first to wear a piece of Dior’s (appropriative, in hindsight) “Rasta” collection.
One of Gwen’s many memorable moments in Vivienne Westwood, this time in classic polka dots.
Isn’t the wedding aisle a girl’s ultimate red carpet? Let’s not quibble too much, because the story of Gwen’s high-fashion journey isn’t complete without noting her custom John Galliano-designed wedding gown. Oh, brides-to-be were shaking with jealousy when these photos first hit. It’s literally been displayed in museums, and you can still readily find dupes of it for sale.
No Doubt took home two moon men for the “Hey Baby” video that year, and Gwen left us with lasting memories of this studded leather skirt. MTV classified the band as pop in 2002, but surely this is more rock and roll than anything “Best Rock Video” winners Linkin Park ever wore.
1999: Dior Boutique Opening
Who says you can’t mix pink and orange?
Is this “good?” It doesn’t matter when it’s iconic.
Long before she started L.A.M.B., Stefani self-designed this outfit. Notably, the ombré skirt detail would reappear on her wedding gown.
Also notable: a dig Courtney Love took at Gwen would later go on to inspire “Hollaback Girl.”
1997: Race to Erase MS Gala
Mind you, she’s appropriating from multiple cultures here, but you can see why people were letting it slide at the time.