40 years ago today, Madonna burst onto the music scene with her first self-titled album—changing the pop landscape forever with her mega-hits such as Holiday and Lucky Star. There are few musical artists who can say they began their career by simultaneously igniting a whole new fashion craze, but it’s precisely what the singer did back in 1983. Fans were totally obsessed with Madonna’s signature tulle skirts, big bow’d hairstyles, and lace gloves from the get-go. Madonna wasn’t just a hot new artist to watch, then—she became a global trendsetter. And she’s continued to be for four decades now. So, in honor, Vogue is taking a look back on 40 of her best fashion moments throughout her career.
Over her impressive 40-year career, Madonna has only continued to deliver show-stopping ensembles—be it on stage, on the red carpet, or in her many music videos. Nobody does “fashion eras” better than the star. With each new album she’s released, Madonna has always embraced a brand new look to go with it—whether it be her western-inspired getups for 2000’s Music, or her disco-ready attire for 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor. Like a true artist, she sees what she wears as true performance art. Remember at the 1996 premiere of Evita, when she channeled her character, Evita Péron, in Givenchy, gigantic floral headpiece and all? Pure camp!
Along the way, Madonna has delivered plenty of other looks that people still talk about today. The Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra that she wore for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, for one, is still one of her most iconic moments to date. When the superstar headlined the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012, then-Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci and famous milliner Philip Treacy created a regal, gold-and-black ensemble that totally stole the show. More recently, she also appeared at the 2021 VMAs in a leather dominatrix-style bodysuit. “They said we wouldn’t last,” she saucily told the crowd, “but we’re still here, mother-f**kers.”