As Madonna turns 60, we chart her most controversial fashion moments

Editor Yahoo Style UK
Yahoo Style UK

*Warning: Some readers may find some of the images in this article NSFW. 

You’ve got to give it to Madonna; she doesn’t give a hoot what people think of her style.

The award-winning artist has been longstanding red carpet rebel, working one headline-hitting outfit after another. 

Vogue once called the singer, who turns 60 on 16 August, an “indisputable American icon” – and that’s undeniably true.

Over her 30-plus year career, her wardrobe’s become as iconic as her chart-topping hits. Madonna’s look has always been an integral part of her career and has constantly evolved.

With each new record/album/tour came a new look and a new Madonna. She’s not only the Queen of Pop – but the Queen of Reinvention.

The singer launched her career in the early 80s as the ultimate ‘material girl’ with statement hair accessories, loud colours and even louder make-up. As the decade passed, Madonna became more rebellious. Edgy tulle skirts were paired with crucifixes and layered necklaces reminiscent of a 1930s pin-up.

Up next was Madonna’s most sexy era. She teamed up with French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and took to the stage in version one of the bullet bra; one of her most controversial looks to date.

By comparison, the naughties were fairly tame for the superstar.

A focus on her film career (Madonna scored starring roles in ‘Evita’, ‘Swept Away’, and a cameo in ‘Die Another Day’) and new husband director Guy Ritchie in her life, she toned down her fashion and arrived at red carpet events in fairly sedate looks.

But that didn’t mean Madonna was ready to retire her corsets.

Aged 50, the singer was still wearing a leotard – a clear sign that she was never going to conform to society’s constraints. In 2016, aged 57, she arrived at the Met Gala wearing a lace look that bared both her breasts and behind.

While half the world condemned the singer, the other half applauded her figurative finger-flip to ageism.

What’s next for the boundary-pushing icon? Your guess is as good as ours. For now, we’ll content ourselves with looking back at Madonna’s most controversial outfits to date.

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<p>No one did 80s style quite like Madonna. Sporting her natural brown locks, a ‘Boy Toy’ denim jacket worn backwards and her trademark hair band, the singer made her status known as a true fashion icon. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna in 1984

No one did 80s style quite like Madonna. Sporting her natural brown locks, a ‘Boy Toy’ denim jacket worn backwards and her trademark hair band, the singer made her status known as a true fashion icon. [Photo: Getty]

<p>The ‘Boy Toy’ belt the singer wore to the MTV VMAs in the mid-80s certainly raised some eyebrows. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
At the First Annual MTV Video Music Awards in 1984

The ‘Boy Toy’ belt the singer wore to the MTV VMAs in the mid-80s certainly raised some eyebrows. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Madonna certainly stood out from the crown in this get-up; wearing layered necklaces, crucifixes, black gloves and a black corset, the singer looked edgy, sultry and bada**. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna at the American Music Awards in 1985

Madonna certainly stood out from the crown in this get-up; wearing layered necklaces, crucifixes, black gloves and a black corset, the singer looked edgy, sultry and bada**. [Photo: Getty]

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<p>The singer’s love for corsets began to surface during her ‘Who’s That Girl’ global tour. This black leather look boasted zips and nipple tassles. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna on stage in 1987

The singer’s love for corsets began to surface during her ‘Who’s That Girl’ global tour. This black leather look boasted zips and nipple tassles. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Arguably her most iconic look of all time, this Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra corset was debuted during Madonna’s ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna in Holland in 1990 during the ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour

Arguably her most iconic look of all time, this Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra corset was debuted during Madonna’s ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Channelling Marie Antoinette while performing her massive hit ‘Vogue’ on the MTV Video Music Awards, this costume was reportedly worn by Glenn Close during the ‘Dangerous Liasons’ film. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna during the MTV Music Awards in 1990

Channelling Marie Antoinette while performing her massive hit ‘Vogue’ on the MTV Video Music Awards, this costume was reportedly worn by Glenn Close during the ‘Dangerous Liasons’ film. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Madonna wore a bralet version of her cone corset on the red carpet in Cannes in 1991, making one memorable appearance. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
At Cannes Film Festival in 1991

Madonna wore a bralet version of her cone corset on the red carpet in Cannes in 1991, making one memorable appearance. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Madonna channelled Marilyn Monroe at an Oscars after party in the early 90, wearing a Bob Mackie glittering dress and $20 million worth of Harry Winston diamonds. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna at an Oscars after party in California with Michael Jackson in 1991

Madonna channelled Marilyn Monroe at an Oscars after party in the early 90, wearing a Bob Mackie glittering dress and $20 million worth of Harry Winston diamonds. [Photo: Getty]

<p>For the charity catwalk show, the singer bared her breasts in a cutaway dress. A beret and red lippy finished the striking look. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna on the Jean-Paul Gaultier runway in 1992

For the charity catwalk show, the singer bared her breasts in a cutaway dress. A beret and red lippy finished the striking look. [Photo: Getty]

<p>A satin silk dress (cut almost to the crotch) was paired with a leopard print coat during a night out in the mid-90s. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna at a party in New York City in 1995

A satin silk dress (cut almost to the crotch) was paired with a leopard print coat during a night out in the mid-90s. [Photo: Getty]

<p>This full-skirted, yellow silk dress – paired with gothic layered necklaces – was more Disney princess than Madonna. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna at the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards

This full-skirted, yellow silk dress – paired with gothic layered necklaces – was more Disney princess than Madonna. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Another day, another iconic cone corset for the singer. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna during her ‘MDNA’ world tour in 2012

Another day, another iconic cone corset for the singer. [Photo: Getty]

<p>The singer freed the nipple once again during her ‘MDNA’ tour, pairing a sheer bra with a pair of trousers – that she later removed. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna during her ‘MDNA’ world tour in Birmingham in 2012

The singer freed the nipple once again during her ‘MDNA’ tour, pairing a sheer bra with a pair of trousers – that she later removed. [Photo: Getty]

<p>Madonna’s custom Givenchy haute couture look might have been fairly flash from the front, but it was the other side that had onlookers gasping. The singer left almost her entire bottom on display, with just – what looked like – an elasticised band supporting her cheeks. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
Madonna at the 2015 GRAMMY awards in California

Madonna’s custom Givenchy haute couture look might have been fairly flash from the front, but it was the other side that had onlookers gasping. The singer left almost her entire bottom on display, with just – what looked like – an elasticised band supporting her cheeks. [Photo: Getty]

<p>The Queen of Pop made headlines again in 2016, when she attending the Met Gala in another bottom- and breast-baring ensemble by Givenchy. But the singer stood by her controversial black, lace look and <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/met-gala-2016-madonna-has-a-message-for-her-critics-a7011276.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:shared a message for her fans on Twitter" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">shared a message for her fans on Twitter</a>. <em>[Photo: Getty]</em> </p>
“Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum in 2016

The Queen of Pop made headlines again in 2016, when she attending the Met Gala in another bottom- and breast-baring ensemble by Givenchy. But the singer stood by her controversial black, lace look and shared a message for her fans on Twitter. [Photo: Getty]

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