If we’re being completely honest, then there’s only one thing that gives us more of a thrill than watching a celebrity totally nail it on the red carpet — and that’s seeing them ignore conventional wisdom and take the kind of fashion risk that could easily land them on every weekly magazine’s “worst dressed” list. Hit or miss, it’s always more memorable. That’s why we’re celebrating the year’s ten craziest looks — the ones we loved and the ones we loved to hate on. From Nicki Minaj’s sartorial schizophrenia at the VMAs and Beyoncé’s bump flaunting in her “Countdown” video to the fascinators that stole the Royal Wedding and the whole “Ex-Girlfriend” jeans for dudes trend, we’ve collected some of 2011’s boldest fashion statements after the jump. Chime in with your favorites in the comments.
Princess Beatrice and Eugenie’s Royal Wedding Hats
Between Kate’s elegant Sara Burton-designed dress and Pippa’s ass-hugging one, there was a lot of Royal Wedding fashion to discuss. But those daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York — man, they know how to bring it. The cream silk might start to fade in your brain, but those Philip Treacy hats stay with you. Princess Beatrice’s even has its own Facebook page, with nearly 140,000 likes.
Nicki Minaj’s VMAs Getup
The single strangest place for fashion: MTV’s Video Music Awards, a red carpet where even the tamest of celebrities tend to take risks. And this year, to ensure that no one stole her thunder, Nicki Minaj combined just about all the crazy she could dig up. Unlike Gaga who tends to keep to a theme — say, meat or Muppets — Miss Super Bass found a way to unite a ShojonoTomo mask, a soft-serve ice cream necklace, a hand-stitched metal dress, and some sort of massive doll/tail/accessory. Katy Perry must have been kicking herself for just wearing that yellow box on her head.
Andrej Pejic’s Lingerie Campaign
Twenty-year-old male model Andrej Pejic got plenty of attention when he walked a slew of womenswear shows last winter — including Jean Paul Gaultier’s in Paris, where he wore a sheer wedding dress. But his latest stint modeling push-up bras for the Dutch company HEMA might just be his most gender-bending gig yet. “I’m comfortable doing both,” he has said. “Although womenswear is more glamorous. The clothes are more exciting. In menswear I have to work more at having a masculine presence.”
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
To take on the role of Lisbeth Salander (a character with style so distinctive that she inspired her own collection at H&M), Rooney Mara had to chop off her hair, bleach her eyebrows, drop down to prepubescent boy weight, and get about a dozen piercings (ears, lip, nose, nipple). The look came together with lots of black and as much leather, and the transformation from sweet girl-next-door — who never even wore earrings before this gig — to David Fincher’s leading lady is award-worthy in and of itself, no matter how the movie fares.
Beyoncé’s Baby Bump-Baring “Countdown” Video
Beyoncé looked great in her sequined tuxedo jacket when she announced her pregnancy during a performance at the VMAs back in August. But it was this skin-tight outfit in her adorable, Funny Face-inspired video for “Countdown” that really made our collective jaws hit the ground — especially when she turned to the side. If only mummy-to-be Jessica Simpson could display such pregnant-style savvy.
Spirit Hoods’ Cult Following
Strangest trend to hit celebrity-ville this year: Spirit Hoods. The two-year-old LA-based company achieved quite the fanbase (see: Vanessa Hudgens, Pink, Khloe Kardashian) — and one that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to go for massive, animal-inspired hat situations with ears and attached paws. At least they’re cuter than Uggs?
Levi’s Ex-Girlfriend Jeans
Though girls have been rocking low-slung, baggy boyfriend jeans for years, guys never had an appropriately named, figure-hugging equivalent until Levi’s decided to roll out this style in February. But why does the five-pocket creation — described as “as skinny as it gets” on the jean company’s site — have “ex” in the name? Maybe because it’s hard to imagine a current girlfriend letting a dude get away with these skin-tight suckers.
Fergie’s Kids’ Choice Awards Lego Dress
You can make a lot with Legos — guitars, Empire State Buildings, and, as Fergie and the LA-based designer Michael Schmidt proved at this year’s Kids’ Choice Awards, a whole outfit. The thing was, well, as complicated as it looked — there was hot-water-molding and drilling involved. And the show’s host Jack Black, never one to be left out of the fun, got himself a pair of Lego shades out of it, too.
High-Heel Nike Dunks
If the fashion world had an equivalent to the Portlandia saying “put a bird on it,” it would likely be “put a heel on it.” Like Timberland boots and Tevas before them, Nike Dunks got their stiletto this year. The response? People seem to like them more than the knock-off heeled Jordans that have also made their way around the Internets.
Patrick Mohr’s Glued Mouths
Though fashion shows aren’t exactly known for their sanity, no one has pushed things further than Patrick Mohr. Last year, he made his (female) models walk bald and whiskered, and this January at Berlin Fashion Week, he glued their mouths shut. As if working a runway isn’t stressful enough without actually having to remind yourself to breathe!