It’s an interesting – but not that interesting – thing to note that most people’s style icons are women and men who don’t actually work in the fashion industry. Think about it – who admires the personal style of fashion designers? Do women want to emulate Vivienne Westwood’s ‘tights with no knickers’ sartorial approach? Or Donatella Versace’s ‘platinum blonde hair atop a chain smoking leathery visage’ look? We don’t admire their style. We admire their talent.
The creative industry most conducive to admiration and copycat-ism is the music industry. To want to look like a writer is to want to look like you fell headfirst into a skip. To want to look like a film star is to want to look totally homogenous and inoffensive. To look like a musician is also to look like you fell into a skip to an extent, but a skip out the back of The Coolest Store In The World.
Musicians; they just get it. Successful musicians know, and are sometimes saddened by this, that image plays the most vital part in getting yourself noticed. Image is everything. It is sadly most definitely the case with the majority of young female singers. However, it is nice to see how many female artists now subvert the conventional cute’n’sexy kitten look for something garish, weird, intimidating or slightly smelly – all of which, not encouragingly, can still translate to short, tight and sparkly under a different guise.
It’s with this in mind that we turn to Saint Laurent Paris. The rebranded French fashion house, once called Yves Saint Laurent, is now headed by designer Hedi Slimane. Slimane has a habit of using musicians as muses. His first advertising campaign is no different but still manages to buck the trend for the marriage of fashion and music – the campaign features Marilyn Manson, not-a-household-name Ariel Pink, Courtney Love and Kim Gordon, bassist and guitarist for Sonic Youth.
Both the women featured in the campaign are of a certain age (in Gordon’s case, over fifty) and they look great. They look even better than the average model despite – or in my opinion, because of – their age. Grunge fans will know Love for more than just her ripped babydolls and smeared makeup aesthetic, while as well as a musician Gordon has become the understated style icon for fans of understated cool (Chloe Sevigny and Sofia Coppola both modeled for her clothing line, X-Girl, when it debuted in the early Nineties).
From MIA to The Dumdum Girls to Florence to Kim Gordon, what makes musicians so cool? I don’t think it’s the music; I think that it’s because they don’t care too much. Musicians who have the weight of stylists and record companies behind them never look too well. We just need to watch an episode of The Big Reunion to remember that.