Famous fashion references throughout the years

When it’s done right, and when it’s done WRONG


Anika Ravila/Talon

Fashion loves to bring everything back in style. With a modern twist, the fashion of the past can be seen walking down the runway every season. 

Whether it’s through subtle homages to the stars of the past, or by wearing the exact same look as another person, we are going to examine the right ways to make some fashion references and the absolutely wrong ways to do it. 

The right:

Lady Gaga:

Over the years, Gaga has been known for her chart-topping music. Recently, the star has garnered fame for her acting. In 2018, Gaga starred in A Star is Born, a movie that has been remade several times since its release in 1937. Judy Garland starred in the 1954 film, playing the same character as Gaga.

At the 2019 Golden Globes, Lady Gaga wore an icy blue dress reminiscent of the stand-out dress Garland wore in the movie. Custom made by Valentino and including signature Gaga twists, the dress featured changes from its inspiration. 

Gaga even had dyed her hair blue to match the dress. The puff sleeves worn by Gaga were brighter, allowing Gaga to continue to don her own style while paying homage to another legend. 

Yara Shahidi:

It’s fitting that Yara Shahidi would make a fashion reference to a trailblazing African American woman. In the 1920s, Josephine Baker was the first black woman to star in a major production, a 1927 film, “Siren of the Tropics.” Baker was an entertainer with a remarkable flair for performance and fashion.

Yara Shahidi could be considered the Josephine Baker of this generation. Having graduated from Harvard in 2022, studying in the university’s social studies and African American departments, and taking her place at the forefront of many current activism movements, Shahidi is an icon in the making. 

And so, in typical Yara Shahidi fashion (pun wholeheartedly intended), she nailed it. Shahidi donned a sparkling Dior gown and Cartier headpiece, as a tulle cloak dramatically floated above the outfit; it was the definition of a perfect homage. Baker had worn a similar Dior gown on stage in 1951. This reference was beautiful, and respectfully honored Baker and her contributions.

Austin Butler:

Biopics usually bring about mixed opinions, however the 2022 Elvis movie was a huge success. Most of the credit goes to Austin Butler, as the lead role of Elvis seemed to be an impossible task.

Elvis Presley experienced many complications throughout his life, and the film’s crew knew it essential to depict both the good and the bad. Without a doubt, the most breathtaking part of the film was its costume design.  

Butler modeled near-exact replications of Elvis’s wardrobe throughout the movie without wearing an Elvis original. It’s safe to say that Butler captured the classic ‘Elvis” look, tying the whole film together. 


The wrong:

Kim Kardashian:

Notoriously, the words Kardashian and Jenner are nearly synonymous with money and fame. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t show in their wardrobe. Kimberly Kardashian, probably the most famous of the family’s numerous notable daughters, has gained notoriety based on her questionable behavior. If the fashion police were real, she would be at the top of the most wanted list. 

At the 2022 Met Gala, Kardashian showed up in the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The dress was created to hug Monroe and fit her body perfectly. Wearing it fed into rumors of Monroe and Kennedy’s affair. After Monroe died, the iconic dress was sold in 1999 to Ripley’s, a rare antique company, for a whopping 4.8 million dollars. 

23 years after it was sold, Kardashian decided that she wanted to wear it to the 2022 Met Gala. Not only did it not fit the theme, making it an out-of-the-blue decision, but it was just entirely unnecessary. While some people think that Kardashian wearing this dress was a great way to honor Monroe, I see it as a tremendous insult to her legacy. 

For starters, the dress is a piece of history though it may be clothing, it does not mean that it is not an important part of American history, or that Kardashian had any right to wear it.

For Kardashian to get into the dress, she had to lose 15 pounds. Even with the weight loss, she was squeezed into the dress, and with all this friction on the dress, it permanently removed a bunch of the rhinestones and tore sections of the fabric.


Kendall Jenner:The best fashion references share a logic behind the choices they make. Gaga and Shahidi for example, had  references that made sense because there’s a connection between the people in question. However, there’s a definite disconnect when it comes to Kendall’s references. 

In 2021, she wore a dress to the Met Gala reminiscent of a gown worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie “My Fair Lady.” Regardless of the fact that the dress wasn’t on theme, it just didn’t make any sense. 

The gown is beautiful, but the idea is flawed. Givenchy created both gowns, but the similarities between the two end there. If  Jenner considers herself comparable to Audrey Hepburn as one was a remarkable actress and philanthropist, while the other garnered fame on a reality TV show, it is an incredibly false comparison.


Katy Perry:

Britney Spears is known for her amazing voice and we give thanks to Britney for many Y2K trends. One of Britney’s more famous looks is her denim dress, the one she wore to the 2001 American Music Awards, which matched her partner Justin Timberlake’s questionable Denim on Denim look.

Tragedy struck when Katy Perry and Riff Raff wore almost identical denim-on-denim looks to the 2014 MTV awards, making Spears and Timberlake outfits somehow socially acceptable.

So, what did we learn today? To make good fashion references you have to: never destroy the original piece, never recreate an already questionable look, have a reason, and give it a modern twist. If you fail to meet these standards, we, as the fashion police, will be forced to press charges (or write an article on you, either way works).