It’s a relationship that has been going on for as long as their existence. Fashion and Music walk side by side for as long as the world remembers. They inspire each other, back each other up, grow together and, step by step, go on to embellish our lives. Each one with its own direction.
Grace Jones and Azzedine Alaïa
She was born in 1948, in Jamaica. Him in 1940, in Tunisia. Their dates of birth are not exactly certain: both would refuse to admit their age. This particular characteristic was not, however, the only thing the friendship between the designer (who died in 2017) and the model, singer and actress, Grace Jones, was built upon. Azzedine Alaïa debuted his prêt-a-porter in the 80s, with a highly erotic collection centered around leather, praised by the critics. The collection would end up coinciding with the opening of a new atelier in the bohemian arrondissement of the Marais, in Paris. In the capital of Fashion, specialists gave him the title of King of Cling, in a perfectly fitted (pun intended) nickname for his creations, that would cling to the body like a warm sensual kiss. And who better to fit into this vision than Grace Jones? Chameleon-like, with an androgenous look and of undeniable influence in the movement of power dressing, Jones would end up becoming not just one of the creator’s muses, but also one of his great friends. Alaïa was, therefore, a fundamental presence in Jones’ career, and his creations recurrent staples for the artist. But there is one fundamental piece that stands out: the pink hooded dress – very on-brand for Jones – worn by the actress in A View To A Kill (1985). May Day, her character in the fourth film of the James Bond saga, is regarded as the most stylish Bond Girl of all time. It’s just word of mouth, but we fully support it.
Liza Minnelli and Halston
Odds are that these names, in these strange times every reader will find themselves in, have become perfectly familiar in the blink of an eye. Netflix has debuted, on the 14th of May, a five-episode biopic that tells the life story of Roy Halston Frowick (1932-1990). Or Halston, the man that forever changed the course of North American Fashion.“I think, probably, it’s that I cleaned up American fashion at a particular point in time—I was actually called Mr. Clean. It was just getting rid of all the extra details that didn’t work. I’ve always hated things that don’t work”, the creator said in an interview with Vogue, in 1980. Just like any other artist, he also had his muse: Liza Minnelli (United States, 1946), the Broadway star that lived with him during the golden age of the 70s in New York. Together, they were inseparable – him with his all-black ensembles and dark shades, she in sparkly dresses, whether out dancing in Studio 54 nights in a row, smoking up long cigars in VIP events, or small gatherings at the creator’s house, where the créme de la créme of American society would get together. And they supported each other. The designer would send a new pair of black velvet pants to the actress and singer every three months. “He made women feel glamorous”, Minelli recalled in a conversation with The New York Times. Halston would dress her for every occasion: when Liza received the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading role, in 1973, for her performance in Cabaret, she wore an unforgettable canary-yellow dress by Halston, just like she did in every event throughout her life. And while Halston asked her friend to sing in his fashion show in Versailles, on the “face-off” between American and French creators that became known as The Battle of Versailles, she didn’t turn away. Because they realized sooner rather than later that they were better together.
Madonna and Jean-Paul Gaultier
It’s a duo that needs no introduction. In a video to the now extinct Style.com, fashion journalist Tim Blanks referred to them as the pinnacle of relationships between rock stars and fashion designers: “He gave her a look. She gave him a profile.” Their relationship is built upon defining moments – the hard part is choosing them. Let’s start (and finish, since nothing defines them better than this) with the iconic corsets and bras. Pieces that became the image of the brand Madonna x Gaultier. In 1987, during the Who’s That Girl tour, the singer featured a golden corset alongside a cone-shaped bra. In 1990, in the Blonde Ambition tour, the iconic bra was the talk of the town again, and the word “cone” became a synonym not just for the tour, but for the whole aesthetic of Jean-Paul Gaultier when it comes to Madonna. Two years later, the singer was (even more) in the spotlight: because if a pair of boobs in a cone-shaped bra makes people talk, then a pair of boobs out perfectly topped off by a pair of cones covering them, even more so. It’s what happened at a benefit party organized by the designer, where the queen of pop walked through the runway, alongside him, and took off, in a rebellious act, the jacket she was wearing. Underneath, she wore a high-waisted skirt, combat boots and her bare breasts, framed only by what should be a bra – the usual suspect, that cone bra, that had been left backstage that time, so that Madonna could be au naturel.
Music sounds better in Chanel
Karl Lagerfeld always spoiled us. Especially when the subject at hand was Chanel, fashion shows and the Grand Palais, good surprises – and even better spectacles – were to be expected. One could trust a good moment was coming. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t all that surprising when the singer Lily Allen appeared, literally, from the countryside-looking ground that was part of the set for the maison’s fashion show in the spring/ summer of 2010. The British singer, who had already lent her face to the bag collection Coco Cocoon, was now singing at this huge spectacle. To Karl, she symbolized the “modern girl from today” and it made perfect sense for her to be there, because his clothes were made for young modern girls. It had always been like that. Because, with Chanel, the show must go on, the only way is to the future. In October 2011, the Kaiser surprised everyone once again. The proposals for the following summer were unveiled… in the bottom of the ocean (not literally, but the set was so magnificent that some still doubt if they did indeed take a dive in the deepest of seas) from where the singer Florence Welch appeared, just like Venus of Botticelli, in a giant white oyster that would transport every skeptic into a parallel universe. “Nothing is more modern than the shapes you can find in the sea, those that are as old as a billion years”, the designer explained at the time. The vocalist of the group Florence and the Machine considered that that had been, until then, the most “amazing venue” she had ever performed at. And we don’t doubt it, not for one second.
They could be fashion heroes – just for one life
On one side Prince, on the other David Bowie: who wore it better? It’s not up to us to decide. Perhaps the Gods of the Fashion Olympus can – and even to those it would be a hard task. Stars of Music, but also of Fashion, both the North American, who gave a new meaning to the color purple, as the British, who gave the terrestrial world a lovely taste of the spatial one, managed something quite rare: to define the motto “be yourself and no one else”. We can’t say for sure, because we are unfamiliar with the laws of life and death, but we believe it wasn’t by chance that these two heroes left us – together with their unmatchable aesthetics – to live other lives, in the same year of 2016. Their legacies entail: from one side, ultra-tight high-waisted pants, thongs, button-down shirts, cowboy boots and, obviously, the color purple, because Prince, the singer, guitar player and composer, never turned his back on it; and from the other, and given we’re talking about a mere visitor to this planet, an alien with his iconic Ziggy Stardust makeup, a star in sparkly curvy jumpsuits, topping it off with gravity-defiant boots, that is what defined David Bowie, the chameleon. And here is when we wonder: can it be that, without Prince’s extravagant wardrobe, who defied all limits, we would have someone like Young Thug, the rapper that wears ruffles? And if it wasn’t the audacity and empowerment of David Bowie, who put on the table the discussion of gender way before its time, would Alessandro Michele’s Gucci be the same? Food for thought.
Smells like grunge spirit
Adolescents of the 90s, please come forward. Was being a teenager during that decade, when it comes to Fashion, that easy and liberating? Ripped jeans, flannel shirts lumberjack-style, Doc Martens (the youngsters of today will have to forgive us, but they’re not that modern), Nirvana t-shirts, messy hair, colored highlights, loose-fitting “old” looking clothes… When the theme is the institution of grunge in the history of Fashion, there is no space for doubt: Kurt Cobain was – and will always remain – the epicenter of grunge. The grand responsible for what we see, still today, season in, season out, strutting down the runway. With all due respect: Marc Jacobs who? Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent what? “Kurt Cobain was the antithesis of the American macho”, Alex Frank wrote, the ex-editor of the North American magazine The Fader. “He was a declared feminist and confronted the gender politics in the vast majority of his lyrics. In a time when a body-conscious silhouette was the chosen look, he would make a sloppy look into the epitome of cool, whether to men or women.” Outside of the catwalk, Kurt’s checkered shirts and his iconic baggy, deliberately ripped jeans became the uniforms of models such as the rebellious Cara Delevingne, or even musicians who took on the total look – Sky Ferreira and her ex-boyfriend, the lead singer of Diiv, Zachary Cole Smith, went as far as looking like clones to what one day Kurt and Courtney Love once were. Except they’re not even close.
Beyoncé and Thierry Mugler
When you’re Beyoncé there are certain things you can do. Such as, for example, go to an exhibition, fall in love with something you’ve seen, wanting and then being able to have – one way or another – what it is you’ve seen. The options are infinite when you’re Queen B. That’s sort of what happened when the North American artist saw the creations of the French designer Thierry Mugler, then on an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, in New York, and readily managed to wear a vintage piece, from 1987, in the campaign photographs of her album, I Am… Sasha Fiere (2008). From then to the tour of that same album was just one step. Mugler, that had practiced ballet before, would become responsible for conceiving 58 pieces for the singer and her team, including band, dancers and backing vocals. The designer mentioned, to the Fashion website WWD, that he had designed clothes thinking of “the woman and the warrior” Beyoncé – said and done. In what was her third solo album, Beyoncé said she had assumed a new identity, “Sasha Fierce”, who, according to her, allowed for more daring live performances – and the Mugler cut gave her the final push, no doubt.
A star is Björk
Trying to define Björk’s style is the same as trying to reduce Fashion to one trend. A mission bound to failure, since within the universe of the Icelandic singer and composer there is space for all the styles in the world – and beyond. There are, however, some adjectives that fit: vanguardist, experimental, bold, creative, alternative, everything but boring, and certainly, everything that is different. Just like her music, her style is eclectic and transcendent. Björk is capable of adding to the mere act of getting dressed a certain intensity and sense of particular creativity. In her glorious days as a punk girl, during the 90s, and while she was the lead singer for the Sugarcubes, the singer was seen with a Ren & Stimpy cartoon t-shirt, a maxi silk skirt and Reebok sneakers. An outfit not that out-of-the-box, but that was still the talk of the town because it was… unexpected. In 1997 we saw her with a polka-dot jacket and Havaianas’ style sandals worn with white socks. In this case, the singer wore her hair in a way that became part of her aesthetic: minibuns (easily achievable today, thanks to the dozens of tutorials that can be found online). Let’s not forget though, the swan dress created by the designer Marjan Pejoski, with which the singer walked, like a swan, the red carpet of the Academy Awards, in 2001 – the impact of that dress was so dramatic (and no, the term is not employed in vain) that, if it were today, it would “break the Internet”. Björk is the final proof that when it comes to style, you either have it or you don’t.
Hedi Slimane: Music Matters
Music is the syntax that hides behind his style – whether in photography or in Fashion -, because Hedi Slimane, much more than a creator of Fashion or a photographer, is the sum of those two and much more. He recalls how, at the age of six, the only thing he knew, besides the Brothers Grimm tails, were the albums Aladdin Sane, by David Bowie or Angie, by The Rolling Stones. The covers of those albums became a vortex of inspiration for Slimane, which explains a lot. The current creative director at Celine has spent time in Berlin and London, true artistic and musical poles. When in the British capital he surrounded himself with names such as Pete Doherty or Franz Ferdinand. And, in 2005, following those experiences, published a photography book with pictures of Doherty and the British music scene with the title London: Birth of a Cult. Music is the base stone for Slimane’s aesthetic. “Without getting the music right, I can’t style the show, which can be very frustrating”, the designer once explained. “The soundtrack and cast are what better define my style […] In a way, I almost illustrate the show, as if it was a movie or music video.” While he was the commander of the artistic direction at Saint Laurent (from 2012 to 2016), Slimane launched the Music Project, a campaign that featured music icons, and that included Kim Gordon, Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love. All photographed by Slimane himself. Obviously.
Stars (that are) in Fashion
It’s been a long time that Fashion campaigns have stopped being a monopoly of models. More than just a pretty face, it’s the right image and determined personality that can transmit the mood being portrayed, criteria that stand out in the moment of choosing one face instead of another. A question of position, thus. And the fashion world has been realizing that and put into practice the lesson learned. There are many examples. Rihanna to Christian Dior, with the movie Secret Garden (2015), is one of them. Steven Klein, the man behind the lens who was responsible for the campaign, referred to British Vogue that “the mystery and intrigue of Rihanna, combined with her appearance and sharp sensibility, were essential and perfect elements to create the stage for Secret Garden.” In 2017, a decade after her first appearance as a face for the French maison, we saw him return to Saint Laurent (and not to Slimane), the actor and musician, Vincent Gallo. Remember that the North American bad-boy had already given his face to G-Star, in 2011. For the autumn/ winter 2015, Cher, at the age of 69, was the face of Marc Jacobs: “The wonderful Cher. This is just the beginning, more will come”, the designer wrote on his Instagram account. In 2020, the rock star Iggy Pop, then 73, was the face of Gucci, alongside rappers like Tyler, the Creator and A$AP Rocky. And the list promises to keep growing. The relationship between Fashion and Music is written with love, and these examples are here to prove it.
Let the audience be quiet, the Opera will be shown
Fifty-five looks for fifty-five operas. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli had already set the mood for romance in all things involving Valentino. However, during the presentation of the Haute Couture collection for the spring/ summer of 2014, the Italian duo raised the bar of romance, by taking inspiration in the most Italian of art forms: the opera. The show was opened by a white semi-sheer tule dress, covered in musical notes embroidered in black, recreating the melody for La valse de Violetta Valéry, from La Traviata, in an almost literal interpretation of the chosen theme. From then on, the duo explored a vast range of fabrics and proportions that aimed to represent their favorite operas. The theme of the opera Madame Butterfly gave birth to a floor-length cape covered with tridimensional butterflies made from feathers. Aida was reinterpreted as an ultra-dramatic dress in silk with fringes and the print of a lion roaring in the front portion of the piece. And Romeo and Juliet were brought to life by a perfect symphony of golden threads. In the end, if there were any doubts left, Chiuri explained that they wanted to “describe the character of each protagonist [of the opera] in a primordial way.” The creativity of the scenographers of the Teatro Dell’Opera had an equally majestic effect, with a set that honored the chosen location.
An ode to Pierrot (and his violin)
"Why do birds suddenly appear / Every time you are near? / Just like me, they long to be / Close to you." With the Carpenters in the speakers, the duo Victor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, from victor & Rolf, suggested in their warmer season 2008, a collection worthy of a lyrical romance. Not the type of romance that Jane Austen would write, but more of an endless number of roman possibilities that involved a great deal of surrealism. On the backstage, the journalist Blanks reported, the keywords were Pierrot and Princess Diana – no connection whatsoever there. By the tenth look, we see a top with a printed violin – ok, Pierrot; by the sixteenth, a dress with another printed violin – Pierrot again. And the violins kept manifesting, between one look and another, lost amidst the XXL collars, confirming the theory that Pierrot (and his violin) might be at the epicenter of that collection. “Perhaps Pierrot is a tragic member, right? In the end, we drew inspiration from Marcel Marceau (the Frenchman who was also the biggest mimic artist of all time)”, the duo explained. American Vogue commented the following about that collection: “This is all wearable, except the thing about the violins: as a fantasy decoration on a sweater or a dress, fine; but in the form of a collar, folded and hung over the shoulders of a long coat? Fitted only for a clown.” Is it?
Translated from the original, as part of Vogue Portugal's Music Issue, published in june 2021.