Fashion and 10 Rock ‘n Roll Icons

Does life imitate art or art reflect life? Good question. There is a definite “relationship”, if you will, between Rock n Roll Music and Fashion. Sometimes styles are embraced and replicated so quickly it’s hard to tell from where they originated. Regardless, some Rock n Rollers simply reek with fashion sense and exquisitely unique style. In no certain order, let’s look at 10 iconic examples.

Lenny Kravitz’s reputation as a top musician since the late 1980s can be propped up by his eight Grammy awards, but honestly his fashion sense doesn’t need to be validated by any formal accolades. Even so, he has been recognized as the most fashionable male artist more than once. He rocks his own retro, confident style with varying degrees of flamboyance and no shortage of sex appeal. His hair has gotten shorter through the decades but signature items – like leather jackets, straight fitting jeans, scarves, and great jewelry, especially his nose ring and earrings… and lest we forget, great sunglasses, have endured. From his original looks that seemed to give a shout out to Jimi Hendrix, no shy fashion flower either, to his more recent, refined style…. think black jeans, awesome dark t-shirts featuring AT LEAST one necklace, topped with a leather coat – let your imagination fill in the style: bomber, moto, faux fur collar…, yes, he is definitely an icon. The fact that he was cast to play Cinna the heroine’s main fashion stylist on the movie The Hunger Games, we say – no accident – meant to be.

Have you felt called to pair tight ripped jeans with an awesome graphic t-shirt from which you craftily cut the sleeves and neck? How about a desire to pair a bold striped shirt with a patterned skirt? You may have been answering your inner Debbie Harry. The lead singer of the 1970s band Blondie took sexy, Punk and Rock n Roll style to a new level. She flaunted platinum hair and siren red lips with a fashion sense that went beyond her contemporaries. She combined elements of previous decades… think mod, punk, pin up, with a little disco and something unique bringing it all together. Harry’s style staples included strappy little black dresses paired with black tights and thigh high boots. Attitude was always her featured accessory. There is something about Debby Harry that makes her especially high on OUR affection list… she loved resale and thrift shopping and was known for deconstructing her own fashions. Andy Warhol’s 1980 silk screen of Debby Harry captured pop culture’s fascination with her and ironically is now featured on many graphic t-shirts like ones the icon herself was known to wear.

To identify Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love as key rock n roll fashion influences seems both obvious and at the same time wrong. Without question, their style set the tone for a decade and an era of music, BUT it evolved from an attitude which devalued and avoided fashion. When you name either Cobain, or Love, or the Grunge movement they led, distinct style images flood your mind. Flannel shirts over long underwear, ripped jeans (or cut off shorts over previously mentioned long underwear), work style boots, baby doll dresses with combat boots…. you get the visual? It’s amazing that the goal of their style was to lessen their materialism therefore to dress in many layers of clothing that could meet their needs…. function over fashion. Cobain and Love crossed over stereotypes in their styles and embraced androgyny. He was just as likely to wear floral prints or feminine cuts and styles as the lumberjack look earlier referenced. Anti-fashion, thrift store combinations that raged against conforming to contemporary “style rules” paved the way for many later artists to express their eclectic looks.

Florence Welch, front woman for Indie Rock band Florence and the Machine, has a fashion sense as bold as her voice. Welch is no shrinking violet. A tall, girl’s lesson on embracing your height, she embraces her look and flaunts it on and off stage completely. Designers like Chanel have had her on the catwalk for good reason. Red lips and hair add to her eclectic and many times ethereal style. She likes to carry a bold floral or print in loud colors from head to toe without relief (what do you call monochromatic if it consists of many colors? polychromatic? …anyway) One her favorite and signature looks features long, form-fitting column gowns with varying degrees and areas made of sheer fabric. She has a distinct look that is at once vintage and cutting edge with a healthy dose of whimsical thrown in to keep us guessing.

Here are a couple of quick ones. I say Rivers Cuomo… you say… Weezer. Well after that, you say… GLASSES. Oh yeah, WAY before hipsters of today embraced thick black framed glasses, Rivers Cuomo practically made them his signature. His glasses were the crowning glory of his “geeky dork is really cool” style. Sweaters, plaid shirts, vests, and sweater vests – generally stuff your grandmother, if your grandmother is older and very traditional, would think she should send you for holidays – make up the bulk of Cuomo’s style and he wears it all so well.

Next, Katy Perry practically all by herself brought back high waist full coverage bikini bottoms and halter pin-up style tops. She really needs her own blog on how she influences fashion, so we’ll stop with one example.

Even before Gwen Stefani started L.A.M.B., she rocked a sporty glam style and brought the traditional Southeast Asian Bindi way beyond the members of the culture to even her most mainstream fans. Her street wise style mandated you bare an ultra defined set of abs, while rocking low slung but baggy pants or track pants. Like many other female trailblazers, she predominantly wears her hair platinum and her lips fierce red. Her style is in your face but like her music it’s tempered with a sweet seductive component that blunts the sharp edges and makes you like it.

If you are a fan of the slim fit chinos, boat shoes and new take on preppy dressing, then you are probably a fan of Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. His influence on fashion took preppy clothes to the Rock n Roll concert. Navy blazers, Ralph Lauren – particularly shirts, cardigan sweaters, or crewneck sweaters with classical emblem patterns, like sail boats or dogs, pay homage to Ivy League roots and traditional north east coast style.

Finally, a shout out to the fashion forward Lady Gaga. Now, we admit you don’t see many people aspiring to walk around in dresses made from raw meat or outfits that look like they may have been rejects from a B grade science fiction movie’s wardrobe department, HOWEVER, Lady Gaga takes risks. What she does for us with her fashion style empowers us to step out of the box and try something daring. She doesn’t conform to ANY standards of fashion dogma and for that, we say thank you and commend her bravery.

These are just ten of the MANY Rock n Roll stars who have influenced fashion. We love that they are unique and fresh, and the consistent ingredient to their style is certainly attitude. Many of these icons started piecing their signature styles together at thrift and resale shops. We can’t wait to see how you develop your style when you see our ever-changing top brand inventory. And, if you become a Rock n Roll star, give Planet Xchange a little shout out from the stage!