A rundown on why your playlist affects your style
The stimulating relationship between music and fashion knows no bounds — each field feeds off the other in infinite, cyclical ways and this mutually beneficial relationship has consistently given us some of the most epic apparel visuals in popular culture. Some of these exist as live performances and music video creations we’ll never forget, while others transcended into ready-to-wear trends that have stood the test of time.
Madonna wore Jean Paul Gaultier’s whirlpool corset dress during her Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990 and not long after, wearing bras as tops became a thing. Grace Jones’ groundbreaking collaborations with art director Jean-Paul Goude helped her (and her body) become a fashion icon the 80s. Her signature high-top fade haircut and androgynous style remain an inspirational aesthetic to this day. And don’t forget how Vivienne Westwood became one of the architects of the 70s punk wave through her designs and clothes.
Hip-hop often doesn’t get the props it deserves, but the influence the genre (or culture, for the purists) has had on fashion is probably the most powerful — from Arabian harem pants being dubbed as MC Hammer pants, to millennial pink, sneakers and sweats making their way into the mainstream. Virgil Abloh’s taken over the game, hoodies and boomboxes appeared in several runway showcases and many other forms of media take their cues from the influential genre and signature styles. And while there are plenty of icons to note, you can’t speak of hip-hop and fashion without mentioning Missy Elliott. Her influence can still be felt or seen two decades after she started consistently serving one-of-a-kind looks that echoed her music. Her signature style consisted of monochromes, overalls, Canadian tuxedos and the flyest tracksuits and sneaker combinations in the game. Sure, Run DMC came through with the first adidas collab in history, but Misdemeanour went a long way to make the brand trendy AF.
Disco diva Diana Ross’ style, with her affinity for luxury and unadulterated glamour, played a big role in the evolution of red carpet (and general show-stopping) style. Her big hair, bold eye makeup, sparkling gowns, colourful furs and that iconic long-sleeved jumpsuit she wore to her famous Central Park performance are the gifts that keep on giving some of our favourite artists inspo for their on-stage ensembles and glam style that never fails.
Before angsty emos, there was punk. The movement started in London in the 70s as a retaliation against rock ‘n roll’s culture. Punk quickly became a music genre and a style of dress. The key looks almost always black and consisted of studded leather jackets, plaid and elements of BDSM. X Ray Spex’s frontwoman Poly Styrene gave the look a bit of a twist with bright, new-wave colours — a bit of a rebellious statement itself. They gained popularity along with ruffles, mini skirts, bold makeup and chains.
Janis Joplin’s laid-back, Woodstock-via-San Francisco sense of style is as popular now as it was in the 60s. The I-just-threw-this-on aesthetic was seen around 2015 during the Autumn/Winter couture shows by way of flower crowns and wavy hair. And because fashion is all about the trickle down, the flower child aesthetic is mainstream and easily accessible and no longer avant-garde. Think off-the-shoulder crochet playsuits, wide-leg denims, slip camis and, of course, the Birkenstocks.
The collaboration between fashion and music can either be a result of deliberate partnership or a visual (and audio) representation of the times, and as such, documenting whatever is happening in the world. We see this when designers and musicians (and musicians who happen to be designers) make clothes for a specific project, when young people make their socio-political statements sartorially, or when the fashion industry interprets musical trends as clothes. Without this symbiotic relationship, we’d have little to draw on for inspiration, and these two mega industries wouldn’t have the influence and growth they do.