How to dress your inner rock star

  • From the tops of DEVO’s energy domes to the bottoms of Robert Smith’s Vans and every cone bra in between, music may be the most influential factor in predicting fashion trends. Everyone assumes music is something you listen to; just as importantly, music is something you watch.
         The Beatles were a fashion entity in and of themselves. Early in their popularity in America, they were the picture of clean-cut suits and mop-top hair. You almost have to wonder if Justin Bieber and Zac Efron realize they stole their famous early hairstyles from the original heartthrob musicians. As The Beatles’ popularity exponentially increased, their style became a little more rugged. With long, stringy hair and scraggly beards, they became the poster children for the “make love, not war” mantra. It’s no wonder the free-love attitude was such a popular one in the ‘60s — the height of the Fab Four’s carefree influence.
         Counterculture was at an all-time high in the ‘60s and ‘70s, so much so that musicians became fashion icons simply by attempting to bilk the fashion industry. Jim Morrison, captured in a classic black-and-white photograph shirtless and wearing a beaded necklace, was arrested for allegedly exposing himself onstage in Miami in 1969. His case was overturned posthumously, and he lives on in our memories as the “untainted” Jim Morrison. Iggy Pop performed and is frequently photographed sans shirt, and Courtney Love often performed nude, which is ironic considering she is among the latest musicians-turned-models for Saint Laurent (formerly Yves Saint Laurent). Also well known for dismissing the fashion industry were Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway, two of the three Thompson Twins, who infamously shaved their eyebrows. They later regretted it when the hot stage lights caused sweat to drip uninhibited into their eyes.
         David Bowie is well known for his garish makeup and cross-dressing tendencies (in addition to his early ‘70s mullet), but he was preceded by none other than Alice Cooper. While both gentlemen are known for their former tendencies to imitate the style of the fairer sex, Marilyn Manson wins the competition for implying a cross-dressing stage life. Plus, no man can apply the guy-liner like Manson.
         Speaking of mullets (thanks to Bowie), can we just talk about Joan Jett and her epic mullet? We can also hold her personally responsible for making black eyeliner, tank tops and punk-grunge style popular. While we’re on the subject of hair, we can’t walk away without discussing Sinéad O’Connor and Patti Smith. O’Connor has had a pretty consistently shaved head since the ‘80s; Smith, conversely, would go months at a time without shaving her armpits.
         Lately, an iconic mustache is considered a reputable accessory for the men in our lives. Freddie Mercury was the first heartbreaker to win over the ladies (and gents!) with his mustache, and men have been following his lead for years. Fortunately, most men stick to mimicking his influential facial hair, and not his memorable stage costumes.
         There is a chain of command in the “blonde women who go to extremes to get noticed” category. Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha are both accused of imitating Lady Gaga, who, in turn, is ridiculed for swiping Madonna’s style. While Madonna is credited with introducing outrageous costumes (a la cone bras and leotards), she follows in the glamazon footsteps of the untouchable Cyndi Lauper. The fact that Ms. Lauper debuted an exclusive lipstick for MAC Cosmetics only proves her staying power.
         While we’re on the topic of Madonna, we could easily assume she, Björk, Gwen Stefani, and grunge royalty Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love have nothing in common — except their influence over the fashion industry during the ‘90s. Visible bras, flannel button-downs, skinny jeans and bleached hair are making a comeback, but no one will rock them as hard as the original artists.
         High-end designers have been vying for the stars’ attention for years. When an A-list celebrity wears a designer’s dress on the red carpet, that designer enjoys widespread publicity they wouldn’t have received otherwise — all for the price of a single dress. Lately, those high-end designers have been reaching for musicians. Lady Gaga’s partnership and famous friendship with Donatella Versace is advertising that neither artist could obtain otherwise. Also among Lady Gaga’s designer suitors are Giorgio Armani and Philip Treacy. Hedi Slimane, creative director for Saint Laurent, has recently partnered with both Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love. Versace helped Jennifer Lopez stand on her own reputation with the infamous green gown at the 2000 Grammys, and Tom Ford recently dressed Justin Timberlake while supporting Jay-Z.
         I’ll leave you with this thought: The recent trend in women’s pants is to have a bit of a drop crotch. Should we send our thank-you notes or letters of regret to MC Hammer?
         Ever looked back at pictures of your younger self and thought, “What on earth was I thinking??” Well, you’re in luck. You’re among countless others whose style was influenced by a favorite musician instead of a favorite designer or runway model. We can only hope the future generations will continue to make our same mistakes.