The marriage of music and fashion

The intertwining of music and fashion is unquestionable. From the melody backgrounding a fashion show to the boots an artist steps out in, they coincide and collaborate, mingling the audible and the visual to curate an image and create an experience of the individual. An artist’s music may take precedence in their career, but they use fashion as an accessory to their aesthetic, an instrument to the formation and communication of a persona the public can attach themselves to, a distinct character that makes them more than just a voice, and what better way to step into character than through costume? Nearly all artists try to excel in fashion, most have some sense of style attached to their name, some are watched as much as listened to for what they’ll wear to the awards show they’re attending because of their music, but in the big leagues few are as influential in fashion as they are in music, defining eras of sound and style simultaneously.

Born of her music career, Rihanna’s fashion has been coveted since the early 2000’s right up until now. Capitalising on her status as second-best-selling female artist of all time, she recognised her influence in the duality of music and fashion and ventured deeper into affairs of flair. Fenty beauty was launched in 2017, followed in 2018 by Savage x Fenty, Rihanna’s own lingerie brand, and then Fenty fashion house in 2019. The self-proclaimed “black-madonna” has had a huge impact within the world of fashion, focussing her brand upon inclusivity as well as style and as a result pushing others to do the same, a development dubbed ‘the Fenty effect’. Rihanna’s dual self-expression through music and clothing have earned her success, her efforts in music allowing her a platform to shed light on her style and take her place as a figure forever consecrated in the divinity of fashion: a creator of the material and the auditory.

Sweeping back to the 70s, Fleetwood Mac’s bohemian-rock style may just be the token image of 70s fashion that slips into mind. The 70s cannot be pinned down to one facet of style, no one definition of what it was to be fashionable in the age of flares and feathered hair exists, but Nicks’ witchy-boho aesthetic was and continues to be mimicked by the masses. Much like their music (Rumours remains a staple album on many a playlist), that 70’s style transcends the boundaries of time, trend cycles meaning the 70s saw a recent resurgence in the world of fashion, skinny jeans and sequin tanks admitted to the millennial archives and bell bottoms, flute sleeves and peasant blouses invading our wardrobes. It can be no coincidence that some of the most influential individuals in fashion across time are also artists immortalised in music through their contribution to the catalogue of the history of sound, the Fleetwood Mac cover image imprinted in our minds as much as we ‘Don’t Stop’ reprising the hits of Nicks and Buckingham. 

Meat dresses and Crustacean heels, Lady Gaga has pushed far past the border between classic and extraordinary. Her music expresses an embrace of the weird and wonderful, advocating for self-love and being who you are because you were ‘born this way’, and her wardrobe mirrors this message of acceptance – dressing for you and pushing the boundaries by having as much fun as you want with the image you present. Gaga’s wardrobe has aided her creation of a musical space for those who feel outcast, a channel through which she can connect with her fans and invite them to join in her creativity, individuality and uniqueness. For the singer/songwriter/actress, fashion is freeing and expressive, an art in itself that aligns with her message, outlook and music.

David Bowie is a household name and for years to come, even after his death in 2016, he will be known as one of the most memorable names in fashion and music. Bowie ushered in an era of the boundary-pushing and radical, his work in the 70s preparing the world for the rollercoaster of style and symphony that was the 80s. As well as his service to music, he acted as the inspiration for such iconic names in fashion as Alexander McQueen, altering the industry as we know it with his glam-rock androgyny. As his music shifted from one era of his career to another, so did his wardrobe, adopting a new character and hence a new costume periodically, and birthing personas Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane among others. Bowie’s entire music career was devoted to performance and this devotion extended beyond simply his lyrics or voice, his fashion forming a significant part of his growth and movement between musical tone as years pressed onwards, his fluidity in fashion as inventive and iconic as his timeless discography. 

Finishing our line-up is the ‘Queen of Pop’ herself: Madonna. Alongside her achievements and success in fashion, it is clear to all that Madonna takes great care in the clothes and costumes she wears, and enjoys doing so, playing with sartorial matters on tour, in music videos, and in everyday life. Many a fancy dress costume has its roots in Madonna inspiration and with such an extensive catalogue of unforgettable moments, it really is no surprise that many a ‘material girl’ parades the streets in a True Blue-esque uniform on the 31st of October each year. Her success among the masses does surpass simply the status of recognisable costume however, credited often as the trendsetter of the 80s, a title that applauds her popularisation of the underwear-as-outerwear approach to fashion and the bustier trend, and the first singer to appear on the covers of the Big Four (Vogue Italia, British Vogue, American Vogue and Vogue France). As famous for her wardrobe as her music, Madonna has made her mark in both worlds and has cemented her status in fashion through song (‘Vogue’) and her position in music through her service to fashion (Vogue). 


Featured image: Katy Hardman via Unsplash with license

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