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Charli XCX calls on her yellow spirit animal, Ariana Grande in black moto at MTV music awards

Laverne Cox arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

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Laverne Cox arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK, N.Y. - 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 while British pop singer Charli XCX wore a yellow tiger-print leotard Sunday to the MTV Video Music Awards.

Katy Perry and Riff Raff showed up in matching patchwork denim in an ode to Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake — a la the 2001 American Music Awards.

She said her "throwback to Britney and Justin" was custom Versace. "This is how we do the remix."

The 21-year-old Grande worked long zippers back and front on her strapless Moschino moto look. Charli's tight animal-print 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. Amber Rose, who is married to Whiz Khalifa, decided on a Vegas showgirl moment, her chest barely covered in strands of beads that exposed all as they cascaded down in loose loops to a tiny bikini bottom.

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.

The red carpet was far more subdued than VMAs of yore, with Rita Ora in a Donna Karan Atelier classic backless red dress with a high side slit, paired with a slicked-back down 'do not unlike the hair of Iggy Azalea in a blue Versace.

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