Great Outfits in Fashion History: Aaliyah’s Striped Robert Cavalli Dress

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It’s the dress that keeps on giving.


There are perfectly good celebrity style moments, and then there are the looks that really stick with you, the ones you try desperately to recreate at home. In ‘Great Outfits in Fashion History,’ Fashionista editors are revisiting their all-time favorite lewks.

While all eyes are still on Y2K (though I’m curious to see if designers will start tapping into other decades for the Fall 2023 runways), I personally prefer the ’90s. Slip dresses, baggy pants, kitten heels, chainmail, bucket hats — the decade had so many style-defining pieces that made it such a versatile and exciting time in fashion history. 

Of course, there were also iconic figures that added to the excitement, including Winona Ryder, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lil’ Kim, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss to name a few. But the one who takes the top spot for me is the late R&B singer Aaliyah.


Aaliyah may be most popularly known for her streetwear aesthetic (her Tommy Hilfiger era single-handedly made me become a devout follower of the brand), but she was much more versatile with her sartorial choices than she gets credits for. 

One of my favorites was her yellow-and-black striped Roberto Cavalli gown for the 2000 MTV VMAs. Since the dress was already a statement, she kept the accessorizing to a minimum with strappy heels, red gloss and shiny eyeshadow.

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If you still aren’t convinced about how life-changing this look was, look no further than how celebrities have referenced it in recent years. At the 2021 MTV VMAs, Bretman Rock channeled Aaliyah and wore the exact same dress on the red carpet, successfully creating a show-stopping moment. That same year, Paloma Elsesser wore it to a wedding, further proving that the fashion influence of Aaliyah is timeless.


Aaliyah, you will always be one in a million.

Before you start looking up other Aaliyah fashion moments to dote over, shop dresses inspired by the Roberto Cavalli piece down below.


Hanifa Jax Knit Gown, $469, available here (sizes XS-3XL)


Balmain Zebra-Jacquard Maxi Dress, $3,350, available here (sizes 2-12)

lagence slip dress

L’agence Serita Bias-Cut Silk Slip Dress, $375 (from $625), available here (sizes 0-18)


Bronx and Banco Leo Maxi Dress, $680, available here (sizes XS-XL)


AFRM Tessa Mesh Halter Dress, $88, available here (sizes XXS-XXL)

Homepage Photos: Getty Images. Collage: Janelle Sessoms/Fashionista

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