Nicki Minaj’s Dramatic Outfits: Her Most Distinctive and Iconic Looks

From her fashion-forward red carpet looks to her show-stopping performance outfits, here are Nicki Minaj’s best fashion moments over the years

Nicki Minaj
Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty / Neilson Barnard/Getty / Frazer Harrison/Getty

Nicki Minaj is a music icon — and a fashion icon, too.

Minaj has always had a distinctive style that puts her at the center of attention at any awards show, event or red carpet. Since her first major red carpet in 2010, her outfits have consistently been unapologetically bold. The rapper has never been afraid to take a risk, whether she’s sitting front row at a fashion show or attending the Met Gala.

She rocks bright neon colors better than almost anyone else out there, and she’s an expert at mixing and matching fun wigs with her looks. Even when Minaj chooses a look that’s a bit more demure, she manages to make it eye-catching. While it’s hard to keep track of every time she’s made us do a double take, here’s a comprehensive look at Nicki Minaj’s most iconic outfits of all time.

Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMAs in 2010

Nicki Minaj poses in the press room at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre on September 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Minaj went for a pretty in peach look for her MTV VMAs debut in 2010. She wore a pastel jumpsuit, sky-high black platform heels and a pink-peach wig with blunt bangs. Multi-color statement jewelry completed the look.

Nicki Minaj on BET in 2010

Nicki Minaj visits BET's 106 & Park at BET Studios on March 31, 2010 in New York City
Bryan Bedder/Getty

Minaj appeared on the set of BET’s 106 & Park in New York City and opted for a white mini dress. She accessorized the look with pops of color, including a neon green wig, notice-me gold jewelry and orange sherbet-colored knee-high boots.

Nicki Minaj at the Grammys in 2011

Nicki Minaj arrives at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Of course, Minaj made a statement with her outfit at her Grammy Awards debut in 2011. The star went for head-to-toe leopard print by Givenchy, wearing a leopard print silk satin dress with matching gloves, a belt, leggings and shoes. Her Bride of Frankenstein-inspired hairstyle completed the look.

“This outfit is a masterpiece by Givenchy and what they made for me is a miraculous piece of lioness meets her cub meets fierce-osity meets fabulosity meets fashionista meets runway meets everything, darling!” she told Ryan Seacrest on E! Live From The Red Carpet.

Nicki Minaj at the VMAs in 2011

Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California
Jason Merritt/Getty

Possibly one of Minaj’s most colorful and most interesting looks yet happened back in 2011 at the VMAs. Her over-the-top outfit included knee socks, a 3-D metallic dress, a stuffed animal train, an oversized ice cream cone necklace, a surgical mask (before they were a staple) and a sky-high candy-colored hairstyle.

Nicki Minaj at the AMAs in 2011

Nicki Minaj poses at the 2011 American Music Awards Press Room at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

In 2011, Minaj opened the 39th Annual American Music Awards with a performance that featured a medley of songs, including “Super Bass” and “Turn Me On.” To walk the carpet, the star wore a flowing green skirt and black lace top by Oscar de la Renta. A choker and bright pink hair completed the look.

Nicki Minaj at the Grammys in 2012

Nicki Minaj arrives at The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California
Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Nominated for Best New Artist, Minaj surprised everyone by showing up on the red carpet at the Grammy Awards with a man dressed like the Pope on her arm. The rap star wore a nun-like red satin robe that featured an elaborate hood and black beaded embellishments.

Nicki Minaj at the VMAs in 2012

Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards at Staples Center on September 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

At the 2012 VMAs, Minaj turned heads in a skintight Donatella Versace jumpsuit. The black one-piece featured lace, gemstones and bright red embellishments throughout. She accessorized with a yellow wig and a black newsboy cap.

Nicki Minaj at the AMAs in 2012

Nicki Minaj attends the 40th American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California
Kevork Djansezian/AMA2012/Getty

It’s telling that this highlighter-colored chartreuse Monique Lhuillier gown is one of her more subtle looks. For the AMAs in 2012, Minaj paired the dress with sparkling Charles Albert jewels, a platinum blond wig and bright pink lipstick.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in 2013

Nicki Minaj attends the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Minaj opted to stay on the safe side for her Met Gala debut in 2013. The star walked the carpet in a navy blue Tommy Hilfiger gown that, while not exactly on the Punk: Chaos to Couture theme, definitely got our attention. Red lipstick and a glittering gold necklace added to the luxury.

Nicki Minaj at the Billboard Music Awards in 2013

Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Jason Merritt/Getty

The rapper went for a similarly glamorous look at the Billboard Music Awards. She wore a red pleated gown with a platinum blond curly wig.

Nicki Minaj at the BET Awards in 2013

Nicki Minaj, winner of the Best Female Hip Hop Artist Award poses in the Backstage Winner's Room at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California
Mike Windle/Getty

Minaj attended the 2013 BET Awards in a curve-hugging black Alexander McQueen gown with lace detailing and a plunging neckline. Instead of her signature colorful wigs, the artist went with a platinum blonde, stick-straight bob, keeping the look simple but stunning.

Nicki Minaj during New York Fashion Week in 2014

Nicki Minaj attends 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week during day 3 on September 7, 2013 in New York City.
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

Minaj has been a staple at Fashion Week in cities all over the world for years now. At the 2014 shows in N.Y.C., she went for a chic bondage-inspired gown with furry straps and sky-high black platform heels. A retro chic shoulder-length hairstyle made this look stand out.

Nicki Minaj at the MTV Movie Awards in 2014

Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

2014 was clearly the year of simplicity for Minaj, who went for understated glam at the MTV Movie Awards. Her look included an inky black Alexander McQueen gown and some gorgeous gold jewelry. Dark waves and a deep side part added to the elegant vibe.

Nicki Minaj at the MTV European Music Awards in 2014

Nicki Minaj speaks onstage at the MTV EMA's 2014 at The Hydro on November 9, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Minaj had the honor of hosting the EMAs from Scotland in 2014, where she also performed and won the Best Hip Hop award. While the night featured many, many different looks, a fan favorite was this stunning two-piece performance outfit. In a studded bra top, matching gloves and an extremely long skirt, Minaj literally dazzled over the stage.

Nicki Minaj at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014

Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

At the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, Minaj mixed classic and modern elements, wearing a black gown with cutouts, soft waves and minimal makeup.

Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMAs in 2015

Nicki Minaj attends the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California
Jason Merritt/Getty

The rap star glittered in a shimmering gold gown with a plunging neckline, transparent panels and floral embellishments. She topped the look off with blunt bangs.

Nicki Minaj at the Grammy Awards in 2015

Nicki Minaj attends The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the STAPLES Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California
Jason Merritt/Getty

Minaj’s look at the Grammys in 2015 was a perfect mix of her more daring and sophisticated sides. She wore a stunning black Tom Ford gown with a plunging neckline that was dripping in sequins. Sparking bracelets and a low-key makeup and hair look complemented the outfit.

Nicki Minaj at the AMAs in 2015

Nicki Minaj attends the 2015 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Mazur/AMA2015/WireImage

For the American Music Awards in 2015, Minaj opted for a look that was bold and chic. A large stomach cutout gave this gold-embellished gown a sexy edge.”

Nicki Minaj at New York Fashion Week in 2015

Nicki Minaj poses backstage at the Marc Jacobs fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 at Park Avenue Armory on February 19, 2015 in New York City
Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Minaj attended the Marc Jacobs Fall 2015 runway show in N.Y.C. in her version of streetwear. Thigh-high snakeskin boots, an oversized fur jacket and a green and black outfit looked stylish and comfortable.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in 2016

Nicki Minaj attends the 'Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City
George Pimentel/WireImage

For her second Met Gala, Minaj fully embodied the Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology theme. She went for an all-black look in custom Moschino that featured a criss-cross halter top and buckle details. She accessorized with long sheer gloves and Stuart Weitzman heels.

Nicki Minaj at the Night of Stars Gala in 2016

Nicki Minaj attends 2016 Fashion Group International Night Of Stars Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 27, 2016 in New York City
Jamie McCarthy/Getty

The rapper showed up at the 2016 Fashion Group International Night of Stars Gala in one of the night’s most daring looks: a full lace bodysuit under a long, sheer kimono with fur trim.

Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMAs in 2016

Nicki Minaj attends the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City
Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Before taking the stage with Ariana Grande to deliver an epic “Side To Side” performance, Minaj walked the red carpet looking sophisticated and chic in a gorgeous Bao Tranchi gown. It featured sheer accents and strategic cutouts and looked great with her sleek hair.

Nicki Minaj at an Alexander Wang Show in 2016

Nicki Minaj attends the Alexander Wang show at pier 54 during the spring summer 17 NYFW on September 10, 2016 in New York City
Pierre Suu/GC Images

Minaj returned to a more minimalist look for the Alexander Wang show at Pier 54 in N.Y.C. in September 2016. The rapper wore a fitted black dress with a low neckline and a slightly flared ankle-length hem. Studded nude heels and long back hair with a middle part kept things simple but beautiful.

Nicki Minaj at the TIDAL X:1015 Concert in 2016

Nicki Minaj attends TIDAL X: 1015 at Barclays Center on October 15, 2016 in New York City
John Lamparski/WireImage

Dressed to steal the spotlight, Minaj was photographed at the TIDAL X:1015 concert in New York in a sheer lace Margiela catsuit. Black thong underwear and black nipple pasties added even more of a head-turning element to the bold look.

Nicki Minaj on New Year’s Eve 2017

Nicki Minaj is seen at E11EVEN Miami as she rings in the New Year on December 31, 2016 in Miami, Florida
Alexander Tamargo/Getty

Minaj kicked off the year 2017 with a stunning look. She spent the night at E11EVEN in Miami in a skintight, glittering silver bodysuit with a neckline down to her belly button. A high, super-long ponytail and plenty of jewelry with matching shoes kept her on the theme for the night.

Nicki Minaj at the CFDA Awards in 2017

Nicki Minaj attends the 14th Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards at Weylin B. Seymour's on November 6, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Minaj decided to go daring for the 14th annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards in New York. The rapper wore a plunging black bra top with a high-low bottom, black leather shorts and a black leather belt-and-corset accessory. She kept her makeup glamorous with dramatic winged eyeliner and nude lips, and opted for long, straight, platinum strands.

Nicki Minaj at the VMAs in 2017

Nicki Minaj attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California
Frazer Harrison/Getty

Minaj reverted back to her more colorful style at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2017. The rapper walked the red carpet in a skintight, bubblegum pink latex jumpsuit with cleavage cut-outs. Orange and pink heels and plenty of sparkling jewelry completed the look.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in 2017

Nicki Minaj attends the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City
Neilson Barnard/Getty

Minaj was one of the celebrities that completely committed to the theme of the 2017 Met Gala: Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. The star worked with the team at H&M to create a custom look that featured an obi belt with the face of Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakbo and a duchesse satin kimono top. Interesting details included black vinyl roses and red Swarovski crystals, as well as a glittering black and red train.

Nicki Minaj at the AmfAR Gala in 2017

Nicki Minaj arrives at the amfAR Gala Cannes 2017 at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 25, 2017 in Cap d'Antibes, France
Dominique Charriau/WireImage

At the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Gala in Cannes, France, Minaj rocked a sultry gown. The rapper wore a Roberto Cavalli Couture evening dress in black lace patchwork with both a deep-V neckline and a high ruffled slit. She later did an outfit change into a nude-illusion red glittery gown.

Nicki Minaj at Paris Fashion Week in 2017

Nicki Minaj attends the Haider Ackermann show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2017/2018 on March 4, 2017 in Paris, France
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty

Minaj ensured that all eyes were on her when she attended the Haider Ackermann show at Paris Fashion Week. She wore a low-cut black Mugler top that left her left breast completely exposed, with just one diamond-shaped Agent Provocateur pastie over her nipple for coverage. Black leather shorts and strappy black heels completed the outfit, along with a pair of sheer purple sunglasses.

Nicki Minaj at a Harper’s Bazaar Party in 2018

Nicki Minaj attends as Harper's BAZAAR Celebrates "ICONS By Carine Roitfeld" at the Plaza Hotel on September 7, 2018 in New York City
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

The star went for head-to-toe leather at the Harper’s Bazaar ICONS party during Fashion Week. Her voluminous tiger-print gown was made by Alexandre Vauthier, and she wore it with matching animal-print Saint Laurent heels and plenty of Tiffany & Co. jewels.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in 2018

Nicki Minaj attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City
George Pimentel/Getty

Minaj told ET she was “dressed as the devil” in a deep-red Oscar de la Renta gown with a dramatic train for 2018 Met Gala, which was themed “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination.”

Nicki Minaj at the Fashion Media Awards in 2018

Nicki Minaj attends the Daily Front Row's 2018 Fashion Media Awards at Park Hyatt New York on September 6, 2018 in New York City
Gary Gershoff/WireImage

One of her many epic Fashion Week moments in 2018 was when Minaj went to the Daily Front Row’s 2018 Fashion Media Awards. She showed up in a purple Pamella Roland gown covered in crystals and feathers, with a matching short purple wig and a long studded black belt, and the overall effect was perfection.

Nicki Minaj at the VMAs in 2018

Nicki Minaj attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards Press Room at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City
Matthew Eisman/Getty

Before taking the stage to both perform and accept her award for Best Hip-Hop for “Chun-Li,” Minaj walked the carpet in a nude thong bodysuit by Off-White underneath a sheer petticoat. A matching belt cinched her waist, and she put her hair in pigtails that reached down to her knees.

Nicki Minaj at a Lakers game in 2018

Nicki Minaj attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on April 10, 2018 in Los Angeles, California

Allen Berezovsky/Getty

If anyone can make a basketball game feel like a fashion show, it’s Minaj. The rapper caught attention at a Lakers game in 2018 with her courtside outfit. She wore a latex-like leather bodysuit, fishnet stockings and stiletto pumps with her platinum blonde hair in a high bun. Sunglasses, spiked earrings, a metallic silver trench coat and a studded Chanel backpack all added to the over-the-top feel in the best way.

Nicki Minaj in New York City in 2018

Nicky Minaj on August 13, 2018 in New York City
Gotham/GC Images

Photographed in N.Y.C. in August 2018, Minaj looked very stylish — if not dressed for a cooler season. The rapper wore a black velvet long-sleeve crop top with a matching skirt with a slit up the middle, both of which were covered in sparkling gemstones.

Nicki Minaj at New York Fashion Week in 2019

Nicki Minaj attends the Marc Jacobs Spring 2019 Runway Front Row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Park Avenue Armory on September 12, 2018 in New York City
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

When attending the Marc Jacobs Spring 2019 fashion show in New York, Minaj stood out in a dramatic red gown with huge statement sleeves and a plunging neckline. A bright yellow wig added an unexpected touch of color.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in 2019

Nicki Minaj attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Minaj went with a soft pink color at the Met Gala in 2019. She wore a custom Prabal Gurung blush-colored dress that featured hand-embroidered chandelier crystals and a giant silk taffeta train. Custom pink satin and Swarovski crystal Brother Vellies heels laced up over her knees, and a high peach-colored ponytail matched the look.

Nicki Minaj at New York Fashion Week in 2020

Nicki Minaj attends the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on February 12, 2020 in New York City
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

For one of her only public appearances in 2020, Minaj was dressed to impress. She showed up at the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show in a gorgeous floral mini dress with huge ruffled statement sleeves. She accessorized with an orange belt that cinched her waist and knee-high brown boots, as well as a yellow handbag. Before the show, the rapper was photographed taking a selfie with her husband Kenneth Petty.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in 2022

Nicki Minaj attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City.

Mike Coppola/Getty

For the 2022 Met Gala, Minaj wore head-to-toe Burberry in a feathered, ruffled gown with a sheer dotted yoke over a pair of leather pants. A huge belt cinched her waist, and she managed to make a leather cap look extremely cool.

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