You gotta love the VMAs, where couture and crass tumbled headlong down the red (make that white) carpet Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Rihanna skipped the whole thing, saving it for the stage, where she opened the show in a Hood by Air T-shirt and some odd pants.

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Beyoncé created a stir early on, arriving in a bedazzled number with feathered “wings” by Francesco Scognamiglio (say who?) that immediately had the Twitterverse screaming “Hunger Games.” She was accompanied on the carpet by Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and Lesley McSpadden-Head, mother of Michael Brown Jr., along with daughter Blue Ivy in sneakers and yards of tulle.

Before that, the stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” paid loving homage to notorious VMA outfits of the past — everything from Lil’ Kim’s nearly nude one-shouldered dress to Britney Spears’ bikini with boa (the kind that slithers).

As for the real Britney, she left the snake at home and played it somewhat cool in an asymmetric black dress slashed down the front and zippered up the back. Also in simple black, Kim Kardashian in a sheer, barely-there mini (with hubby, Kanye West, all in white) and Ariana Grande in a cropped top and pants.

The Olympic gymnasts fondly known as the Final Five (minus Gabby Douglas) hit the event, apparently mistaking it for the senior proms they probably missed, in short, sweet dresses with almost as many spangles as their Olympic leotards. Nicki Minaj worked it in a sheer royal blue number with a few strategic panels, while Amber Rose neglected to remember her blouse, letting her lace bra steal the show.

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As for the guys, no one tried too hard. DJ Khaled wore a tux of sorts, Lance Bass put on a shiny blue track jacket, Michael Phelps a black one. But most were wearing shredded jeans, overalls, designer kicks — you get the picture. And what on earth was Nick Cannon thinking, with his white bermudas and a jeweled turban?