Who Scorched and Who Snoozed on the VMA Red Carpet

Every year, there is always controversy about who wore what best on the VMA red carpet. Here Beauty Editor Ruby Feneley gives her verdict on the winners and losers in the fashion and beauty stakes at the New Jersey night of nights.


Zara Larsson, Musician

I’ll be honest, I had no idea who Zara Larsson was but her breathtaking Giambattista Valli Couture gown was the wake-up call I needed. The confection added the perfect touch of whimsy to a red carpet better known better for its thigh grazing, body-con looks. While strappy sandals felt like a bit of a missed opportunity with such a couture piece, hair and makeup were keyed perfectly. Bubble-gum pink lids and a nineties rose-brown nude pout cemented an iconic Barbie-Girl Moment.


Taylor Swift, Singer-Writer

Tay Tay’s makeup looked cute, but when doesn’t it? This was Swift’s first VMA Red Carpet since 2015 and she was nominated for ten awards, by any estimation is pretty impressive. Swift has been keeping a low profile after a hectic few years of media scrutiny. She commented to the Guardian that keeping her private life out of the spotlight has helped her life feel more “maneagable” – good for Tay. However, her outfit felt a little phoned in. The Versace eighties-style blazer dress was fun but I just don’t understand the early aughties, knee-high, diamanted (?), faded suede boots. Sure, I would have lusted over them as a ten-year-old but some trends are better not revived!

I like to think you can see on Taylor’s face here the realisation that these boots were a mistake.


Halsey, Singer-Songwriter

We’ll be honest. Halsey accumulated most of her “scorch” marks for hair and makeup and she looked so darn cute! Her rainbow centre part was a fun twist on her seventies-hippy-girl hairstyle but the terracotta toned draped blush and Bambi eyes are what really nailed the look for us.


The Hadid’s, Uber-Models

Yes, they’re beautiful but their double monochrome look had me seeing beige – flawless buffed smokey eyes and all. Or, maybe I’m just jealous!


Nikkita Dragun, Youtuber and Makeup Artist

Let’s just say American makeup artist and Youtuber Nikkita Dragun got ten points for using live accessories and was the most hotly discussed look of the night. Note to self, opt for real-life male accessories to liven up your Friday night ensemble.


Tana Montague and H.E.R

Don’t you hate it when you rock up to a party wearing the same outfit as another girl? Reality TV star Tana Montague (described by Wikipedia as “American internet personality, musician and model” – cheers Wiki) and singer-songwriter H.E.R both paid tribute to Britney Spears’ iconic 2001 “Slave 4 U” VMA performance with live snakes.

Cancel culture has come along way since 2001 and the internet has retaliated swiftly calling out both stars for animal cruelty. It seems if you’re going to accessorise with a living thing, the rules in 2019 are to make sure it can offer its consent a la Dragun’s chained entourage.

I’m inclined to agree. I can’t imagine a live snake’s favourite place to be is the VMAs red carpet, and neither outfit had anything on Britney’s iconic pose. H.E.R looks like she spilled something on her boiler suit and Montague’s heavily patterned molten outfit has triggered my migraine. If you’re going to be cruel, at least make sure you’re coordinated.



In troubled times it could be argued that the person who has consistently sparked the most joy in 2019 is Lizzo Beating, otherwise referred to simply as “Lizzo”. Always ebullient and fierce her striking presence on the red carpet is a breath of fresh air. She went RED on the VMAs Red Carpet and turned in a look just a positive and playful as she is!

From muscly males to golden pythons as adornments, the night was full of the unexpected. Who took home the (red-carpet) gong? Zara Larsson did it best in her Giambattista Valli gown, providing us with a much-needed couture injection.

Written by Ruby Feneley

Ruby Feneley is The Carousel Beauty Editor. Her obsession with makeup and skincare started when she modelled in her teens. While she studied English Literature at Sydney University she pivoted from front to behind the camera – receiving her Diploma of Artistry and working as a makeup artist, assisting industry leaders across multiple top brands. In 2017, she moved to New York where she worked as a copywriter for celebrity children’s wear label Appaman Inc. Ruby is now combining her love of makeup and skincare with her passion for writing. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of makeup and skincare – she can spot a Nars lip from 30 feet and recommend skin creams and treatments from chemists to La Mer at a glance. She is always looking for the next big thing in beauty whether it’s an “unsung hero” product, a highlighter hack or a technological innovation to accelerate your anti-ageing regimen.

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