Janelle Monáe’s most iconic looks

Monáe understands the fashion assignment

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Janelle Monáe has been a fashion icon since the beginning of her career.

Since her official debut in 2007, Janelle Monáe has been gifting the entertainment industry with stellar music and stellar visuals to match.

Of course, with these visuals come fantastic fashion pieces. Monáe doesn’t just create music videos or “emotion pictures” to demonstrate her artistry; rather, her fashion statements on the red carpet are also part of her performance.

Without further ado, here are some of my favourite Monáe fashion looks from over the years.

2019 Met Gala

At a Met Gala, where most didn’t understand the assignment, Monáe hit it out of the park.

Her costume for the 2019 Met Gala was the perfect balance between gaudy and glorious, and played homage to the sci-fi themes of her music videos.

Monáe wore a bright pink and red dress with an asymmetrical top. One side operated like a black turtleneck and the other side had a simple sequined black and white eye covering her chest. Her sequined eye clutch completed the eye iconography.

The skirt had wide hips and pulls back in, imitating a vase-like shape. Monáe paired this well with a black and white glove. Separating the look’s bright colours with these black and white staples kept the outfit from being too loud.

The look was topped with a series of hats that looked like they were about to teeter over, but stayed in place artfully.

2013 Grammy look

This is one of my favourite looks.

This suit is part of Monáe’s earlier style, which helped define the visuals of her earlier work, like the suits and hairstyles worn in her Tightrope music video.

With this look, Monáe plays with gendered expectations in fashion and the red carpet with her elevated tux look. This suit is simple and elegant, nearly all black with an elegant non-standard tie to elevate it from simple to classic, paired with gold embroidery that adds a metallic sheen to the colour palette. Her hair was styled in a sort of afro-pompadour.

This outfits proves you don’t need to be the most extravagant to stand out.

Black Panther premier look

Monáe looked gorgeously regal at this premier. Walking along the red carpet with the cast of Black Panther, Janelle Monáe embraced the theme of the night by dressing like eccentric Black royalty.

The mismatched blue and white sleeves add even more volume to her ballgown silhouette, and it’s all topped off with a beaded choker necklace and gold crown. This is another amazing look that shows Monáe, if nothing else, understands the assignment.

Django Jane” music video and BET awards

I couldn’t decide between the concert version of this look or the suit for the music video.

Both looks are powerful, bright, and use imagery of Black power to play into the liberation themes present in her album Dirty Computer.

In the music video, Monáe is wearing different coloured suits, but the red one stands out most to me. It pairs well with gold jewellery and follows the red, black, and white colour theme seen in her earlier work.

With part suit and part dress, the shoulder pads on this look elevate the sense of power this outfit exudes, pairing well with the theme of the accompanying song, “Django Jane.” The red, black, and white colour scheme is bold and powerful in its brightness and contrasting colours.


This is only a short list of some of what I think are Janelle Monáe’s best looks. Even her most tame outfits supersede most of what Hollywood celebrities walk out in. Each look challenges gender norms or works with the theme of the event she’s attending.

Monáe also utilizes her fashion choices to celebrate powerful Black women—empowering these women, and celebrating Black culture is one of the most poignant parts of Monáe’s work.

She’s an icon of fashion and music, whose art extends beyond her music, into the realm of her presentation in the real world.


celebrity, Fashion, Met Gala 2019, Music

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