Katy Perry has several hits under her belt that call for over-the-top performances. Of course, you can also expect the pop star’s outfits to be just as dramatic. Many of Perry’s looks have covered pretty unconventional themes, from fireworks (worn for her multi-platinum hit, “Firework”) to voting propaganda. You never know what you’re gonna get with Perry’s fashion choices, but she doesn’t fail to grab our attention each time we see her.
Perry’s most iconic looks couldn’t have been possible without the help of her stylist, Johnny Wujek. Wujek told Seventeen that the two work together to come up with her bold outfits. “We work side by side on every project. We’ll get the schedule and know what’s coming up for each event and pick out the vibe and pick out the theme,” he said. “If it’s for a premiere, I’ll make a folder of things I like and she selects what she likes—it’s always a collaboration.”
From her early days as an emerging pop star to becoming a household name in the music industry, the “I Kissed A Girl” crooner remains consistent in taking fashion risks — even if they’re controversial. Between shooting whipped cream out of her bra in her “California Gurls” video and dressing up as a burger for the 2019 Met Gala, Perry has contributed to some of the most interesting fashion moments ever. Let’s take a look at some of Katy Perry’s most inappropriate outfits.
Katy Perry was banned 'indefinitely' from China because of this outfit
There are a few times that Katy Perry has been vocal about politics, and she’s even made fashion statements that double down on her views. However, one of her 2015 tour costumes might’ve accidentally made a statement that upset a lot of her fans. During a concert in Taipei, Taiwan, Perry donned a glittery, sunflower-adorned dress while draped in a Taiwanese flag, per MTV. At the time, sunflowers were the emblem of anti-China protests in Taiwan a year prior.
The concert took place just weeks after the anniversary of the Sunflower Student Movement, which protested China’s interference in Taiwanese affairs. Sunflowers came to symbolize the tensions between independent Taiwan and mainland China, which still claims sovereignty over Taiwan. It’s unclear whether Perry intentionally wore the dress as a political statement or not, given that she first debuted the dress in China. However, her style choice did come with consequences. Perry found out that she was banned ‘indefinitely’ from China in November 2017 due to the controversial incident (via Page Six). Yikes.
Katy Perry received backlash over controversial 'blackface' shoe release
Katy Perry’s outlandish style still manages to be trendy, so many expected to see that infused into her shoe line. Unfortunately, creativity met controversy with one of her shoe designs. The “E.T.” singer’s brand, Katy Perry Collections, removed two pairs of shoes from retailers’ sites in 2019 due to comparisons of blackface, per The Guardian.
The Rue Face Slip-On Loafers and the high-heeled Ora Face Block Heel Sandal featured blue eyes, triangular noses and red lips on a black background. The products came under scrutiny from social media users, especially at a time where designers Gucci, Moncler, and Prada were accused of mimicking blackface on their products. Fans also pointed out Perry’s previous outfit choices that were racially insensitive, such as her rocking cornrows in the “This Is How We Do” music video (via Essence).
Perry later released a statement regarding the shoes. “The Rue and The Ora were part of a collection that was released last summer in nine different colorways (black, blue, gold, graphite, lead, nude, pink, red, silver) and envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism,” Perry said (via Today). “I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface. Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them from http://katyperrycollections.com.”
Fans slammed Katy Perry's hand sanitizer costume amid COVID-19 pandemic
Katy Perry clearly didn’t understand the assignment during the American Idol’s first remote taping amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In true Perry fashion, she wore an over-the-top costume for the show’s return. The singer was dressed as a hand sanitizer bottle, which read “American Idol Instant Music Sanitizer” in Purell’s font and design. Prior to the show’s airing, Perry teased that she “really put some thought into my outfit” during a Facebook livestream (via The Sun). “I’ve been dreaming about this outfit for about three weeks, and I had it made,” she said. “It’s really stupid, and you know that’s how I like it. It’s kind of like slapstick, like Pee-wee Herman.”
Critics slammed the star for the costume, with many agreeing that the outfit mocked the seriousness of the global pandemic. One viewer tweeted, “@katyperry Why are you wearing that hand sanitizer costume are you making fun of the pandemic thats killing people or are you that embarassed [sic] of your pregnancy? I used to be such a fan and was so excited to see you getting engaged and pregnant but now i cant stand you!!” Fortunately, not all of Perry’s reactions to her health-conscious costume were that aggressive.
Katy Perry appropriated Asian culture during 2013 American Music Awards performance
Like many popstars emerging out of the 2000s, Katy Perry has dabbled in cultural appropriation. Although she isn’t on the Gwen Stefani-level of controversy, Perry still offended many with her 2013 American Music Awards performance look. During her performance of “Unconditionally” (via Marie Claire), Perry wore a kimono along with traditional Geisha-style hair and makeup. Her set also included cherry blossoms, rice paper screens, and fan dancers.
She received backlash from several social media users for the look and was accused of appropriating Asian culture. One user wrote via Twitter, “WHAT IN THE ACTUAL OFF KEY RACIST F**K @katyperry #Unconditionally #AMA2013.” Another tweeted, “i take it back 100% i disapprove of katy perry’s ‘unconditionally’ after the AMA’s wow what a racist.”
Perry later apologized for the performance in 2017 during a conversation with Pod Save The People’s DeRay McKesson. “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying that I did it wrong. It takes someone to say, out of compassion, out of love, ‘Hey, this is what the origin is,'” Perry explained. “And not just a clap back. Because it’s hard to hear those clap backs sometimes, your ego just wants to turn from them.” The pop star has had her fair share of fashion faux pas, and we can probably expect less socially insensitive mishaps in the future.
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