Alexander Fury: I've long been obsessed with Rhythm Nation
Wear, what, why, when?
Alexander Fury is a fashion journalist, author and critic. He is fashion editor of the Independent, i and the Independent on Sunday newspapers and was awarded the inaugural Editorial Intelligence Award for Fashion Commentator of the Year 2014-15. He was named one of InStyle magazine's 20 most powerful people in fashion in 2015.
Monday 18 March 2013
I've been attending fashion shows for half a decade, but even in that relatively short time I've learnt a few things. Namely, don't open the goodie bag in the venue, don't be on time, and don't rubberneck the celebrities.
Nevertheless, I think that for every hardened fashion journo, there's one star sighting that makes them crack. There's usually a frisson of excitement among the fashion press when, say, the septuagenarian designer Azzedine Alaïa attends a show, the fashion equivalent of a papal blessing.
Mine, however, is much less cool. And much less "fashion". It was Janet Jackson front row at Versace, clasping the hand of her future husband, Wissam Al Mana, and seated next to the new Versus designer Jonathan Anderson. He waved hello to me; unfortunately, I couldn't return the gesture as I was mid-hyperventilation.
Let me explain: for me, this is the fashion celebrity sighting. Jackson is a style icon to me. Don't laugh – though I understand why you might. But the artwork created with Eighties illustrator Tony Viramontes for Control stands the test of time, as does the video for 1989's "Rhythm Nation".
OK, my tongue is slightly in my cheek there, but for about 20 years I've been obsessed with that ironic-iconic "Rhythm Nation" get-up of quasi-military uniform accessorised with a single key on a hoop earring. During his tenure at Bottega Veneta in 2001, the British designer Giles Deacon controversially revived that Janet era, earring and all. He designed record boxes in solid silver, patent guitar cases, and plenty of excessive Eighties shoulder lines. It's probably the best collection I've seen.
Fast-forward to Versace last month, and it was a "Rhythm" redux. Janet wasn't just watching these clothes, she was inspiring them, too. Two-inch nails piercing a single ear reminded me of that key, the oversized coats in primary mink were very mid-Eighties "Nasty" (a Janet single, rather than a style judgement), and as for the dog collars, latex and studs? They felt like a great chunk out of the infamously malfunctioning wardrobe JJ sported for the 2004 Super Bowl. She deserves a place in the fashion hall of fame for that, if nothing else.
Alexander Fury is editor of Love magazine
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