The fashion industry is full of people who explain themselves as “I used to ….. but now i do this” people. Painters, writers, architects, and most of all, musicians. I am no different, I’ve never devoted myself entirely to any one discipline, but the thing I’ve felt most devoted to is music. Fashion has always felt an integral part of being a performer – essential to performance and an extension of the craft. Perhaps it is ego, or part of that innate need to express, whatever the reason, musicians have always been my style icons with their boundary pushing, easily imitable, expressive styles.
For this blog, I will talk about some of the ladies who have influenced me the most (I’ll get to the gents later), starting with the women who forged my formative style….
1) The Runaways
Whats not to like here? All that denim and the customised, handmade tees certainly permeated my consciousness!
Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West and Cherie Currie were scandalously young when they hit the big time in the mid 70s, and they were scandalous in general. Their lyrics were explicit and the clothing followed suit – Cherie Currie infamously sported a basque and suspenders for one live show in Japan. Nothing compared to Gaga or tongue lolling Cyrus, but at the time, damn shocking.
As a 12 / 13-year-old, i fell in love with their shocking nature and the styling – I tucked my jeans into my boots, my tee into my flares, and wore my cut offs high and tight. Quite rightly, it all terrified my parents, and Joan Jett has fuelled my love of annoying society in general ever since. Though i go the pleather route where I can.
2) Tori Amos
This particular goddess has always produced artistry that feels a little bit like she creeps into my room at night, and like some sort of perverse tooth fairy, steals my thoughts making them into amazing songs, and wonderful visual art. Tori’s work is incredibly evocative – Neil Gaiman long ago made her into a character in one of his graphic novels – and her stylistic choices are often inspired.
She is never afraid to flash a bit of flesh, and rarely follows any fashion whatsoever, but always manages to remain incredibly haute couture. When I have seen Tori live, she has appeared in everything from jeans and vest to immense chiffon gowns, all the while skipping from piano to harpsichord, often playing both at the same time, and singing complex, towering vocals for huge audiences. Of late, her personal appearance (sometimes her stylist should be slapped) and plastic surgery choices have been criticised, but hey, she’s only human right? Sometimes I struggle getting past pajamas and I’m not a multi million selling artist. So, chill.
The above artwork from concept album ‘American Doll Possee’ is a fine example of the extra mile Tori goes for the visual aspects of her work – inventing different personas for songs and changing into their costume during gigs, down to the wigs. What a gal.
3) PJ Harvey
A mixture of pure passion and folk, PJ is as complex and aloof as they come. She is a fascinating woman, and an adept visual artist whose image has been carefully cultivated and remains strong today. Her clothes are often underplayed, but she is cutting edge indeed – don’t doubt it.
This t-shirt set me off making my own slogan tops (soon to be revived) and i loved this picture so much I once recreated it for one grateful boyfriend.
PJ can often veer into the gothic and folky looking costume – but it’s all very much determined by the feel of her albums, and sits perfectly with them. A truly devoted approach.
Less the body stocking, enormo hair stuff of the 80s, and much more the mega gown, eyeliner, Sonny betrothed days of the 60s and 70s.
Not my favourite singer, but nonetheless a talented woman, and a much overlooked style icon. For some reason, I have always leaned towards the Navajo Indian look, no idea why, and Cher seemed to cultivate an accessible version of that for me – this inspired MANY an Afghan coat purchase. She had a snaggle toothed, aloof beauty, also possessed by my sister, which I very much admired. Now, Cher’s face looks very different, as we all know.
These days I’m more a fan of the dysfunctional Mom she depicted in Mermaids…anyone who knows me knows what I mean…
I also love those mega dresses the 70s did so well, praise the lord they are back again! Check her out in this snazzy ensemble…Afro? Check. Fringing? Check. Bikini? Uh huh. Chandelier earrings? Yup. And yellow.
Also, a great tune.
5) Juliette Lewis
Now, Jules is a recent addition and is mainly here as she encapsulates so many looks that I love. A real rock n roll chameleon. Borrowing heavily from my true messiah, Patti Smith, and working all the clichés, JLew sums up a lot of what i like and what has stayed with me. The below picture could basically have been me from the age of 15..
Shirt and tie is such a classic eh? She also rocks a leather driving glove regularly which I’ve never been able to pull off…
Overall, I love the bat shit crazy, all out rock styling she dons for this persona. It’s the disregard for the norm that appeals most to me – combining vintage and new, and wearing whatever the hell you feel like. That’s at the heart of my fashion ethic and its great to see it employed!
I’m sure I’ll kick myself for not including so may wonderful women, Allison Mosshart is already plaguing me,, but these are the lasses that spring to mind right now.
Who influences you?!