These days, it seems like truly groundbreaking red carpet moments are few and far between: sure, celebrities are relentlessly styled and groomed so as to never not look impeccable, but that’s different from taking jaw-dropping risks like the one Doja Cat just took at Schiaparelli Couture’s Dante’s Inferno-themed 2023 Paris Fashion Week show.
The scene-stealing pop star and rapper pulled up to the red carpet coated in red body paint and 30,000 Swarovski crystals that reportedly took nearly five hours to apply. She was also clad in a Schiaparelli ensemble that involved an opaque red bodice, a similarly crystal-studded skirt, a long red shawl and red knee-high boots.
“I imagine that Elsa Sciaparelli herself, an intellectual designer who collaborated with the avant-garde surrealist artists of her day, would have loved this look,” Susan Scafidi, academic director of Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute, told The Daily Beast. “There’s no more evocative color than red, whether in reference to Dante’s Inferno or good luck for the lunar new year, and the otherworldly nature of the look is perfect for our current cultural reckoning with regard to reality versus artifice.”
Legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath was behind the outré makeup look. “Doja’s patience and commitment during the 4 hours and 58 minutes it took to create the look…was truly inspiring,” McGrath wrote on Instagram. “The final product was a magical, mesmerising masterpiece and a tribute to Doja Cat’s hard work and dedication.”
Doja’s outfit was reminiscent of classic Lady Gaga looks, as well as a notable viral moment involving Rihanna: the Barbadian pop star’s iconic 2014 “naked dress” involved a see-through web of gems. “Do my tits bother you?” Rihanna asked a clearly rattled reporter. “They’re covered, in Swarovski crystals girl!”
Kylie Jenner, meanwhile, also went for a fresh-off-the-runway Sciaparelli look. A giant lion head was perched on the shoulder of her simple black dress, an outfit that evoked Luna Lovegood’s Harry Potter lion hat. (Online critics said it glorified trophy hunting; the designer made clear it was all fake fur, no animals were harmed etc.)
“The Doja Cat look was fantastic,” Angharad Coates, an art and design PR executive based between Paris and NYC, told The Daily Beast. “It’s right in line with Elsa Schiaparelli’s love of surrealism and artistic envelope-pushing, totally in line with the Maison’s history. (I just caught the Schiaparelli show at the Musee des Arts Décoratifs, so this is very fresh!) And as a Leo woman, I adored the lion look. Very Aslan-chic.”
Culture writer and critic Juan A. Ramirez doesn’t agree. “I have zero skin in the fashion game because it’s boring and lacks genuine glamour and no one represents that more than Kylie Jenner, the epitome of ‘you can’t buy style,’” Ramirez told The Daily Beast. “Hair looks fucking terrible and the whole look just reeks of ‘daddy got me this lion plush at FAO Schwarz.’”
Is Doja Cat’s look just the first of many wild fashion week looks to come? The genre could use a resurgence, but Coates doesn’t think so. “Doja is like old school Gaga,” she said. “She’s not indicative of trends because her looks are SO out there.” After Gaga’s legendary 2010 MTV VMAs appearance, “there wasn’t a sudden trend for meat dresses,” Coates explained.