There's no doubt music has a tremendous influence over fashion and how people dress. Musicians in particular have become fashion icons for many, myself included, as I look to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Izzy Stradlin for inspiration. Think of the magnificent Axl Rose in his heyday — oversized leather and tight, tight bicyle shorts. This influenced his good friend Donatella Versace to re-create a look on the catwalk that was oddly familiar to the fiery redhead singer and was recognized throughout the '90s as a signature trend.
Then there's David Bowie and his alter ego Ziggy Stardust, who styled a generation through its decadence of glitz and glamour. Go back to the '60s when Beatlemania was overtaking the world and London was the fashion hotspot. Paco Rabanne was the designer and his style of prints, PVC, and tailoring dressed the nation. Skirts had never been so short and boots so high. A rebellion against the classic and conservative style of the '50s with their full netted skirts, when showing some ankle was seen as incredibly risque. It was a fresh and exciting time, there was a new movement in music and with it fashion.
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Bands like the Rolling Stones led the nation through their music of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, which reflected the way they dressed. Their fans couldn't get enough and tried to re-create their idols' look. Woodstock was more than a festival of music to spread the word of peace and love. It was to go down in history for the best dressed Rock stars of the 20th Century. Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Hendrix all played and the crowd was filled with tie-dye, denim and fringing waistcoats. Fashion had never been so free.
The '70s brought about the beginnings of Glam Rock, sequins, jumpsuits, and platforms all in its glory. The famous Mr.Bowie lead the generation and everybody was soon out to copy the look. Boys were wearing makeup and sparkles and girls were wearing shockingly less. The Runaways, an all girl punk rock band, would wear little more than their underwear, fishnets and stockings. They just screamed SEX and they screamed it loud. Shocking seeing how these American girls were so young, the eldest, Lita Ford, only being 17 years old. Fashion got sexy, taking it to the next level, it was thrusting it in your face, there was no escaping the influence that rock 'n' roll had.
The later years of the '70s brought about the punk movement, ironically, supposedly anti-fashion. The Sex Pistols started the craze and never before had studs, leather, and safety pins became so fashionable. Those who could not say they were a fan of the music could not argue the influence that punk had over the generation and the styling of the nation. The Queen of Fashion, Vivienne Westwood started her career by styling the Sex Pistols, no wonder why it was so popular. Her inspiration? S&M.
Punk still has an inspiration on today's catwalk; just take Balmain's S/S '10 collection. Ripped shirts, leather trousers, and military jackets ruled the catwalk.
The '80s was probably the loudest, most eccentric and influential decade of them all. New wave/new romantic/metal and glam rock ruled the charts and with it fashion. Big shoulders, big hair, big blazers — everything was big to represent the social change that the world was going through. Women were becoming more of an equal and power dressing represented this, to be taken more seriously, to be taken with respect.
Madonna was the leader of this tribe, she had a 'f*ck you' attitude that was so refreshing for women of that generation. On the rock 'n' roll side of the spectrum, glam rock was huge and so sexy. Cowboy boots, leather, ripped denim, netting — music meant business. Aspiring rockers stole their girlfriends' clothes and used so much hairspray that they are to blame for global warming. Bands like Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses, were mean and nasty, but with a twist. To carry off this look you needed to be comfortable with yourself, to have the attitude that you were a rock star in order to carry it off. The '80s was the most inspiring time for fashion, designers were breaking the barriers and setting the mold, but it was the most scariest time also and some of the trends are meant to be left in the past.
The '90s brought about the the minimalist values of grunge. Vintage was the most used word as people were raiding their grandparents' wardrobe for that moth bitten jumper a la Kurt Cobain. Grunge was dirty, yet refined. Long skirts, DM's and checked shirts was the usual get up of grunge bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Designers like Stella McCartney captured this look perfectly and the '90s kept to its minimalistic pleasure.
That leaves us to the present era —where do we stand? Indie is the movement with skinny jeans, pointy boots, and floral dresses. Personally, I think that this has been the weakest influence that musicians have on their fans, as it has been the least creative on musical terms. Bands are rip offs of past generations and this has reflected in their fashion sense as they look to their music idols for inspiration, and the fans turn to them also. So where does that leave us and our inspiration? Does it lie solely with the catwalk or will a new and inspiring band break into the scene, and with it, how people dress?