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29/01/2015

6 Musicians who should be on your fashion radar this year

6 Musicians who should be on your fashion radar this year

I like to think that as a 20-something-year-old female in a major metropolitan city I have an evolved sense of style. Whether it’s one of those days where more effort is required, or if it’s another day where presentation falls second to swift caffeine consumption, I still find myself staring in the mirror and instantly recognising the inspiration for my fashion choices. There she is again, Britney Spears reincarnated as a middle-class Australian. I am all denim cut offs and mid-drift baring tees. Sometimes it’s a Mandy Moore kind of day. I chuck on a cropped pink sweater and feel nostalgic for 1999 and movies about ballerinas. If I have learnt anything from Video Hits, it’s that pop music of the 90s taught my generation about dressing for suburban banality – think spaghetti-strapped singlets, denim bum huggers, dirty Converse and oversized sportswear. It’s an aesthetic I’ve never shaken, no matter how hard I look to today’s fashion icons.

Music and fashion have always had a beautifully reciprocal love affair, and a history which is far too lengthy to condense and compete with the launch of Stan. And in 2015, music and style are alive now more than ever. Not just because musicians are job-hopping over to model for Yves Saint Laurent; the theatrics of fashion, even in a nuanced sense, means the kids of today have got it good when looking for style inspiration.

Artists have their style game down pat before they even think of a social media campaign, so it goes without saying that there’s strong competition in the fashion stakes. Anyone can wear designer clothing, but performing an identity and forming a fan culture takes skills. This year, I’m predicting we’re going to be seeing a huge change in the social fabric thanks to…

The LA singer has a hypnotically different sound and aesthetic from that of the surfer dream pop you’d expect to ride out of California. She describes her music as “dark indie pop and R&B”, but I say BANKS has a set of pipes that sounds like sex and fourth wave feminism. Such a powerful voice deserves an equally powerful image. Fittingly, BANKS, much like Lorde, looks like a more polished version of Nancy from The Craft. She is all lace, draped layers, leather and wide brim black hats, rocking the kind of garb you would wear on a date to a goth rave. It’s appropriately intimate and sexy, just like her music. Rather than drawing upon festival-head body-confidence and booty-poppin’ bottoms, Bank’s sensuality relies upon mystery and concealment. It’s a different kind of femininity: not one that opposes body-confidence, but offers an alternative for women who prefer the demure and modest over showy displays. Whatsmore, BANKS is adored by the fashion community, citing Helmut Lang and Alexander Wang as her wardrobe staples. With her star identity as a model of modern alternative femininity, BANKS gives women the option to explore their own feminine sexuality. May she carry the torch for grown-up Goths everywhere!

Prior to the launch of her debut album last year, Sky was actually marketed as a modern-day-Lolita-meets-My-So-Called-Life-extra. A quick flashback through Google reveals an Angela Chase-esque taste in floral dresses, Doc Martens, denim jackets, oversized plaid and a few experiments with pastel hair dye. In 2015, Sky channels the likes of Madonna, Courtney Love, and other disheveled female rockers who paved the way for IDGAF fem-rockers. And as a muse for Hedi Slimane at the helm of YSL, Sky’s not without the best style resources. By job-hopping in front of the camera, this model-slash-singer has got strong fashion game. Not one that’s entirely distinctive, but one that says it’s okay to experiment with your image in an age of complete identity confusion.

All hail the queen of darkness. Ella has them witchy vibes in spades, exuding mystery and teenage apathy with a closet of black, black, black, deep purple lipstick and more black. Whether she’s rocking a black jumpsuit, a black sack dress, a black blazer, a black bow-tie or stolen the coat off a buffalo and dipped it in ink, Ella’s chosen hue of midnight mysticism has meant my teenage fishnet fashion crimes aren’t as socially rejected as I once thought. May she inspire a whole new era of goth teen babes so I don’t have to hide my Myspace photos anymore.

When an artist embodies a major cultural symbol of consumption, the style maven tag is going to get thrown around as haphazardly as Cher Horowitz’s golden mane. Fancy not only parodies key scenes from the 90s classic film, it draws heavily on the imagery of commercial fashion culture. But even withFancy excluded from the mix, Iggy Azalea still has some wicked street style and a totally sick body to flaunt it with – it’s just she’s now identified with a particular brand identity, one which sees her front campaigns for Forever 21. Her get up is full of body-con dresses, crop tops, 90s hip-hop throwbacks and strong graphic prints. All on-trend pieces for western girls aged 15-25, making Iggy Azalea’s status as a style icon a powerful catalyst for consumption.

There’s a dinginess to the background of FKA Twigs’ video clip for Pendulum, maybe even a sense that she might be a woman of questionable morals. Video Girl takes a similar approach; the film clip is beautifully hypnotic, slightly creepy and strangely exotic. Much like in Pendulum and Video Girl, FKA Twigs is exoticised and eroticised in many an interview that references her Jamaican heritage, her half-whiteness, her stylised “baby hairs”, “braided bangs”, and “chameleon looks” < http://www.vogue.com/3748619/fka-twigs-instagram-braids-red-lipstick/>. But the thing is with FKA Twigs is that she’s always the one holding the reigns of her singer-songwriter-avante-garde-artist image. Such a power speaks volumes not just about her experience of being an artist, but of being a woman, too. FKA Twigs goes against the grain of a music industry which previously had limited expectations of women’s roles and value, and has created a wacky performance that embodies a sense of female experience. Septum ring and dreadlocks aside, Twigs signature move is taking risks to the extreme. At the 2015 Brit Awards Nomination Concert in London, the singer stepped out in a jacquard robe fit for royalty, Henna face tattoos, gladiator-type Vivienne Westwood boots and a shit-load of gold armory. Total warrior badass.

The renewed trend in beards raises awkward questions – do woman like them? Do men need them? Should you shave before a job interview? Do chefs need an extra hair net? The recent surge in follicular armour answers all of these questions with a resounding “IDGAF”. We saw the ‘mo make a come back as far back as 2008, partially as an ironic display of style, partially as a cause to raise funds for prostate cancer. And when Chet Faker appeared on the music scene in all of his ginger-faced glory, it really sealed the deal for facial hair lovers across the country. It’s a pretty clear socio-political statement to grow out a set of mutton chops in the face of petty media scrutiny. Far from being a sign that a man has ‘let himself go’, beards are part of a highly nuanced fashion statement that puts individuality and self-actualisation at the centre of men’s style. Think about it: no two beards are the same, and the flourishing of facial hair inspires a bit of friendly competitiveness that all comes down to one’s natural capabilities. The beard has become part of the identity politics game, and it costs little more than a set of clippers and beard wax to participate.

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