Katy Perry and Riff Raff took it back to 2001 Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in matching denim, while Amber Rose channeled Rose McGowen circa 1998 in barely there silver with cascading chains at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards.
Perry popped out of a sports car with the grilled Riff Raff onto the red carpet just before the televised awards began. She called her tight, studded patchwork dress a custom Versace in a "throwback to Britney and Justin," a la the American Music Awards 13 years ago.
"This is how we do the remix," she joked.
Amber, who is married to Wiz Khalifa, went for a Vegas showgirl moment, her chest barely covered with loose loops down to a tiny bikini bottom. The look evoked McGowen oh-so-many years ago.
Ariana Grande upped her sex appeal with an ooh-la-la black leather mini and matching thigh-high boots but kept the signature girly high ponytail. British pop singer Charli XCX wore a yellow tiger-print leotard.
The 21-year-old Grande worked long zippers back and front on her strapless Moschino moto look. Charli's tight leotard and leggings were designed by the same Italian brand.
Designer Jeremy Scott joined Charli in her yellow, yellow world in bright tuxedo tails — chest bared — with a big smiley face on the back.
"I feel sexy in it," said Charli, among the early red carpet walkers. "I think my spirit animal is probably a tiger."
Kesha, sometimes a red carpet shocker, went classic in a floor-length sparkler in a far more subdued carpet than VMAs of yore.
Taylor Swift arrived in a long-sleeve, blue lace shorty romper with a lettered alphabet theme to go with her new short 'do. It was designed by London-based Mary Katrantzou.
Laverne Cox was in sparkly blue, a space-age one-sleeve from Marc Bouwer, and Miley Cyrus tugged on a tiny strapless black leather midriff-baring top she wore with high-waisted matching trousers.
"Marc has been so good to me," said Cox, an advocate for trans women like herself.
She has worn several of his designs in recent months.
"He's one of the few designers in whose showroom I can walk where the clothes will actually fit me, not being a sample size. I think Mark just loves a woman's body," Cox said.
Jessie J stood out in a pale green vintage Halston goddess gown with a deep V halter, and Jennifer Lopez showed off her curves in silver cutouts.
Rita Ora, in a Donna Karan Atelier classic backless red dress with a high side slit, finished her look with a slicked-back down 'do not unlike that of Iggy Azalea, who wore blue Versace. Also in red was Demi Lovato in a gown with wide chest-bearing V neck.
AP television producer Marcela Isaza in Inglewood, California, contributed to this report.