Style Icons of the Decade: Rihanna and Lady Gaga


Lukas Werner

Rihanna and Lady Gaga’s style has transformed immensely throughout the decade.

Anna Waldron, Staff Reporter

The 2010s were a transformative era in fashion as they established trends that have never been seen before, resurfaced old ones, and had celebrities stunning on the red carpet. 

Style is self expression, whatever you want it to be, and some of the celebrities we know and love influence our day-to-day styles and the trends that we see change over the years. 

Below are two of the most stylish icons of the decade. 


Since her breakout album “Music of the Sun” debuted in 2005, Rihanna has always been in the spotlight. 

Starting off the decade strong, Rihanna released “Loud” in 2010, one of her highest charting albums, which debuted her red hair on the album cover which was the first time since starting her career that she had bright colored hair. It paired perfectly with the crop tops, headbands, and sweaters that existed within the pop-grunge look. Her red hair even showed up on Rihanna’s 2011 Vogue Magazine cover

In 2012, less than two years after her “Loud” album, Rihanna released her sixth studio album, “Talk that Talk” which was a time where her style had no limits. She rocked striped bikinis, neon colors, and kept her hair curly for most of the tour. In a year of very bright colors, Rihanna did not fail her fans with these looks on tour. Her high waisted shorts and triangle print tops paved the way for fun and carefree 2012 women’s fashion. 

Moving into 2013, Rihanna’s style moved into a darker direction than anything people had seen from her before. This era delivered lot’s of black lipstick, spiky short hair, and leather outfits from top to bottom. On one night of her “Diamonds” world tour, which happened after her release of “Unapologetic,” Rihanna wore an all black, sheer, Givenchy outfit with purple lipstick. Her added gold accessories along with the thigh-high boots made for a bold statement, and one that would show her constant variety and ability to make everything look good. 

After the wildness of her unapologetic era, Rihanna’s fashion started to become somewhat more mature. In 2014 she won the CFDA Fashion Icon Award, and fittingly enough, wore a jaw dropping open-back Swarovski dress with a matching headpiece and gloves. The light pink coloring of the fur along with the sparkling diamonds and smoky eye makeup made for a night of modern glamor. 

Her gowns continued when she showed up to the 2015 Met Gala in a yellow Chinese couture dress embroidered with golden scrolls of floral. This look earned her a spot as one of the top ten fashion moments of the decade. Rihanna exceeded the expectations of the “Through the Looking Glass” theme and proved that she can always steal the show, even at the event of the year. 

Rihanna really does keep her audience on their toes, because in 2016 she released her eighth, and most recent studio album, “Anti” which was a tour of long capes, jumpsuits and blazers, and mostly neutral colors. Different from the bright colors and bold accessories that Rihanna has typically done, this more simplistic canvas gave a certain dramatic effect that she had never done before. “To me, it was anti what any pop diva would ever be wearing to open her concert,” Rihanna’s stylist, Craig Green said

After the “Anti” tour, Rihanna put a pause on her music, but it didn’t stop her from staying in the spotlight because 2017 marked the launch of her own makeup line “Fenty Beauty.” She wore a yellow matching set to the brand’s launch and heels that tied up to her thighs, but Rihanna didn’t just serve on the red carpet. Her street style is one of the things that makes her style so memorable. Rihanna is one of the few celebrities who can make practically anything look stylish,” Essence Magazine said. Some of her “best dressed street moments” were when she went denim on denim, when she wore an all leather mini dress with matching coat, and when she was spotted in an oversized blazer paired with her small sunglasses, clear purse, and white baseball cap. 

In 2018, Rihanna didn’t just do well on the Met Gala carpet, she owned it. She appeared in a jewel-encrusted dress and robe designed by Margiela, for the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination-themed event. This is one of, if not her best, look on any red carpet, as it represented originality, fascination, and beauty that we don’t see in everyday life. 

Rihanna continued to keep audiences captivated at the British Fashion Awards in 2019 when she walked onto the red carpet in a mint satin mini dress, diamond choker, and sheer gloves. It felt almost nostalgic given the eye-grabbing colors she wore in her early days in Hollywood. 

Ending the decade off strong, Rihanna not only gave fashion her famous mini sunglasses and big puffer coat look for when she’s on the street, but she also delivered some beautiful red carpet outfits before the pandemic. One of my favorite’s was at the Savage X Fenty launch to which she wore a black lace bra underneath a black belted leather jacket, and fishnet tights. It was bold, dark, and daring.

Rihanna isn’t afraid to take risks with her style. Her looks are anything but boring. She always knows how to dress it up with fun colors, accessories, statement shoes, or by mix-matching prints. She has evolved and matured in her style; she has come into herself a little more every year. There is nothing she can’t make look breathtaking. Rihanna is truly the embodiment of a fashion icon. 

Lady Gaga: 

Lady Gaga has been breaking barriers in music and fashion for her entire career. She has never been one to follow anyone’s rule but her own when it comes to what she wants to wear. 

Gaga is known for her outrageous outfits which are showcased in her music videos, red carpets, and performances. Beginning the 2010s decade strong, she appeared at the Grammys wearing a sculptural lavender Armani Privé gown with glitter platform heels and a matching head piece. Later that night after her two wins, she changed into a short shimmering mini dress and shiny headpiece. It wouldn’t be Gaga without at least one outfit change, right?

September 2010, Gaga hit the VMAs carpet in a red, gold, and dark green Alexander McQueen gown patterned with floral print. It left fans anything but disappointed, and it showed off her unique taste. 

Towards the end of the night, Gaga changed into her second outfit, one that was extremely atypical. She was in a red meat dress when she went to accept her award for best music video. “It has many interpretations, but for me this evening it’s [saying], ‘If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.’’ Gaga said. It is not uncommon for Lady Gaga’s outfits to have hidden messages, as she is very vocal about her advocacy for LGBTQIA and women’s rights. Her style represents her values and her non-judgmental lifestyle. 

Gaga has given audience’s some of her best looks in her music videos like “Yoü and I” in 2011, and “Applause” in 2013. In “Yoü and I,” she appears on screen in a teal slicked back hairdo, nude top, and a black scaly mermaid tale to imitate a mermaid. Creative and fun, Gaga delivered another perfectly unexpected look with this video. 

In the “Applause” video, Gaga played multiple characters, all of which were very opposite, in order to show the intersection of art and pop. She wore simple makeup, bleached eyebrows, and an all black bodysuit for one, while the others were full of colors, snakeskin prints, bold haircuts, and scandalous outfits. Gaga’s music videos typically feature dramatic looks in order to showcase the art and freedom she stands for and represents. 

One of Gaga’s best dressed moments of 2014 was her all black silk draped Versace gown that she wore at Paris fashion week. Her added blue eyeshadow, open back, and long wavy blond hair covered halfway by the hooded gown made for a gorgeous look that combined both old and new couture trends. 

Gaga continued to surprise audiences when she appeared at the 2015 Met Gala in a low-cut Balenciaga black shiny jumpsuit covered with a white see-through patterned robe, and an added silver headpiece. Her heavy use of pink blush and thinned eyebrows paired perfectly with the black and white outfit, and made for a very compelling look. 

2016 was a wild year for Gaga, as it was the year of her “Joanne” album release, along with her Victoria Secret show. At this runway event, Gaga went out in six different looks. The first one she wore on the pink carpet was a black lace long see-through dress. One thing to note about Gaga — she isn’t afraid to be bold. 

The second was a YolanCris couture, a black gown covered in red roses. She wore her blond hair curled but slicked back, and a statement red lip. Next she went with a black shimmering Saint Laurent jumpsuit with a chunky belt and black boots. She later added a white leather jacket and wings for her first walk on the runway.

She continued her walk in a purple lace see-through matching set, paired with platform boots. To finish the show, Gaga appeared in a white bra and underwear as she took her first walk with the “angels.”

For someone as dramatic with fashion as Lady Gaga, it seems impossible to imagine what she looks like when she goes to run an errand, or go grocery shopping. Unlike other celebrities, Gaga is very rarely seen in sweats or any kind of lounge wear. She is usually spotted in a wearable dress, a skirt and tights, or sometimes jeans and a cute pattern shirt. One thing she always has on outside — sunglasses. 

One look that stands out from Gaga’s street style is sporting a black lace dress with lace-up corset details at the front, black pointed toe heels, a black headscarf, and of course, black sunglasses. She was spotted wearing this ensemble in Soho just months before the release of her musical, “A Star is Born.”

To the premiere of the hit musical, Gaga first wore a big pink feathered Valentino gown and diamond earrings. The dress was nicknamed “Flamingo” by her stylist. Gaga looked stunning in this playful, yet elegant dress. To the second premiere, going a different color direction than the pink, Gaga went all black. She came in a black Armani Privé strapless gown with sheer sleeves, a sequin hat, and Chopard earrings. 

In 2019, Gaga attended the “Camp” themed Met Gala, and gave one of her arguably most iconic looks of all time. When she first arrived, she was seen in a bright pink dress with an incredibly long train and an abundance of men wearing suits while carrying umbrellas holding it up as she went up the steps. Her dress was topped with a matching bow on her head, and white bottom eyelashes that stick out near her nose.

She then steps out of the pink, revealing an all black strapless gown with a sweetheart neckline, but just a minute later, another dress is revealed. This one is hot pink with a sweetheart neckline, and form fitting. Just when you think she has outdone herself, Gaga removes the dress all together and confidently steps out in a black sequined bra and underwear set with fishnet tights and platform high heels.

In the midst of the pandemic and ending of 2020, Gaga attended the VMA’s in a silver jacket topped with a clear helmet, later on she wore a multi-colored feathered ensemble, next a voluminous green ball gown by Christopher John Rogers and face mask by Lance V. Moore, and ended the night in a full sequined bodysuit and white feather Valentino coat. 

Lady Gaga’s constant changes and variations to her “no-boundary” style is exciting, and proves that fashion should be whatever you want it to be. Her pride in her self-expression is inspiring and has helped redefine how clothes can be worn. Lady Gaga’s innovation and persistent beauty, qualifies her as a fashion icon of the decade.