Licentiate Column: Kill Your Idols – Or Dress Like Them

As I type this, one of my friends is having a Beyonce-themed birthday party. There’s a Beyonce cake, Beyonce masks and even a party guest dressed as Jay-Z, aka Mr. Beyonce. The cake is an impressive edifice; a card Beyonce dances on a totally edible stage with a totally edible backdrop. It’s pretty darn cool.

I’m not typing this at the party, by that way. That would be a bit weird. I’m in a totally different part of the country, thinking a bit about hero worship and trying to get rid of the mental image of several grown women, all dressed like Beyonce – one from the ‘Videophone’ video, another from ‘Single Ladies’ and so on – dancing around the place in cardboard Beyonce masks. I’m not trying to get rid of that mental image because I hate to think of my friends having fun (which I don’t, I swear a bit unconvincingly), it’s just the identical masks, the repetition, the anonymity that gets me. In my head it’s a bit like an Aphex Twin video, albeit a very glamorous and cake-filled one.*

There are many things to like about Beyonce. She’s one of the thankfully ever-growing list of female musicians that women look up to for more than just their singing abilities. People love Beyonce because she seems perfect even in her imperfections. Adele is her mirror twin, with fans finding a refuge in the many emotional false turns she takes in her songs. Lady Gaga is much-loved for her envelope-pushing outfit choices, as well as her bravery in risking a serious case of toxoplasmosis from wearing that meat dress.

Oh, and they sing good.

At some stage in our lives, we want to become our idols. It’s a bit odd, really. We admire their interior qualities, like their eloquence or political ideology or total lack of shame, but somehow this translates to dressing just like them, seriously or for fun. Many women want to act like Kesha at festivals (including that whole ‘I can’t find a loo so I’ll just pee on the side of the road’ thing), so they dress up in ripped short shorts and put feathers in their hair and roll around in dirt and glitter, or at least I – sorry, they – thought that was mud. And glitter.

I’m rewinding back in time to 1996, when I was adamant that I was the Posh Spice in our small group of neighbourhood friends. I was a brunette with a sharp bob, my dad had a nice car back then and I was a habitual frowner. The evidence was irrefutable. However, I got shouted down by the others, who were all brunettes of a certain hue, and I had to be Baby Spice.

It’s almost twenty years later, and I have got over not being Victoria Beckham. Unlike other pop icons, I can now buy her clothes and, unlike other pop icons with clothing lines, her creations don’t make my eyeballs want to melt right out of their sockets.

Kill your idols? Don’t bother. Dress like them instead.

* I don’t really think your birthday party was like an Aphex Twin video, Friend.

The Reading List: Antonio Lopez…

…Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco by Roger and Mauricio Padilha.

Brought to you by the brother team behind the Stephen Sprouse book, Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco is heavy on the fashion and art, profligate with the sex and mercifully sparing with any disco tendencies.  As a luxe retrospective of the man who changed fashion illustration into a fairly straightforward representation of clothing into a glamorous, high-burning lifestyle to aspire to, it is comprehensive, but not bleatingly sympathetic.

The book charts Lopez’ work, as it goes from black and white Bridget Riley’esque Op Art illustrations for WWD, to the louche lines and Toulouse-Lautrec inspired saturated colour arrangements of Maxime de la Falaise, to his own hyper-sexualised clean drawings, which would become one of the most obvious signifiers of his era.  His style totally typified the 80’s – stark, one coloured, androgynous faces of many races, most with contrasting slashes of blusher and deep, dark eyeshadow.

The book is not just illustration;  Lopez used his Instamatic without thought for the prohibitive price of film – his photos make the viewer feel voyeuristic, so sexual are they.  The sheer volume of exposed supermodel breast on show makes the reader feel as if they’ve gone through a secret cache of private photos on a famous person’s phone. Such is the power of instant film and the Lopez clique.

With those are many, many photos of Lopez and his partner, Juan Ramos, out and about, enjoying beach holidays with Karl Lagerfeld and horsing around with Jerry Hall.  The mix of biography and retrospective is hardly surprising – The work of Lopez was radically intertwined with all other aspects of his life.  He socialised with his muses (even becoming briefly engaged to Jerry Hall) and stayed with Ramos as an artistic and business partner long after their romantic relationship had waned.

Perhaps the best part of the book is the selection of pages from his diary – mostly sketches, some photos, scraps and a smattering of words.  The breadth of his talent was ever-expansive. Through these diary pages we see a distilled essence of what shines through the whole book – love.  It is pure, unabashed love which powered Lopez’ work –  love of life, of colour, of form, of the fulfillment brought through work and taking advantage of every available opportunity.

Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco, by Roger and Mauricio Padilha, is published by Rizzoli and is out now.

JPG, you’ve done it again

I very, very rarely post up press releases, but this is too cute to resist…

As the new creative director of Diet Coke, Jean Paul Gaultier has collaborated with the brand to create three new fashion films.  The first, Irene’s Musical, showcases the now ever-familiar Diet Coke puppet as she undergoes a very Gaultier makeover. It’s fun, tongue in cheek, irreverent and mercifully bereft of topless sweaty builders (do we remember THOSE Diet Coke ads?).

The best line of the press release has to be this one.

Each girl has her own look, but together they share the belief that the light-hearted side of fashion is all about personal style – rather than following fashion rules.

Amen.

First Eurotrash, and now this… I love Gaultier.