She's with the band: How to rock a look
Designers are being inspired by music stars this season – Miu Miu's latest heroine certainly knows how to rock a look, says Susannah Frankel
For seasons and even years, the hold of the red carpet over high-end fashion and, naturally, any spin-offs, has appeared insurmountable.
This has sometimes worked in the consumer's favour – there are only very few A-listers who are prepared to sacrifice vanity to clothing, and the golden rule has therefore been that such designs should be flattering at all costs. As time has gone by, however, it's an aesthetic that has become – only whisper it – just a tad unadventurous. Fashion needs to move forward, after all, and it would be good to think that there's more to a life of style than pandering to the wishes of the extremely beautiful, famous, toned and wealthy. Column inches dedicated to a burgeoning number of big, predominantly cinema-related events may show no sign of abating but, unless in the most inspired of hands, the fashion that goes hand in hand with that is often nostalgic, even conservative, over and above innovative and inspiring.
With this in mind, it is something of a relief to find that a rather different stage setting has this season come to the fore – the more gleefully soignée pop and rock star is henceforward ruling the roost, and she is a brave and bold creature to behold. In fact, given the profile of music divas from Rihanna to Katy Perry and from Lady Gaga to Cheryl Cole, such a shift is far from surprising. In much the same way that an actor's endorsement can shoot a designer from fashion obscurity to sucess almost overnight, now, such modern-day icons wield their power. Better still, they target the young, female, fashion-hungry audience directly.
It's a match made in heaven, then: fashion invests the pop/rock heroine with just the peacock credentials she dreams of, and she magnifies fashion's message, directing it at just the right bright, young audience, in return.
Be prepared, therefore, to embrace pop and rock's gods and goddesses past, present and future, and be proud. For Marios Schwab, Joan Jett is spring's muse of choice. This resulted in a fine collection of lingerie-inspired, though tough, petticoat dresses, tattoo-printed and in suitably unpredictable shades – from Smurf blue to pale peach – designed to be worn with harnessed leather vests and cropped jackets cut close to the torso, and with neither a zip nor stud fastening in sight.
Richard Nicoll channels Angie Bowie for inspiration: think stiff, concertina-pleat collars, sharply cut chiffon with underwear on display for all to see, and even a black patent-leather hobble skirt that would inspire awe in any unsuspecting passer-by. Courtney Love's throaty tones kicked off Meadham Kirchhoff's collection, meanwhile, which featured grungy chiffon dresses and oversized distressed knits – very distressed knits.
And then comes Miuccia Prada's marvellous collection for Miu Miu.
"I was thinking of everybody's obsession with being famous," this designer said, following Miu Miu's first showing in Paris in October, where, it seems not insignificant, both Dakota Fanning and Mia Wasikowska took pride of place in the audience. In particular, the Simon Cowell voice-over that kicked off the soundtrack paved the way for a wry look at the American Idol hopeful, who, in this designer's hands, is clearly a more sartorially elevated creature than might ever otherwise be, well, hoped for.
While the first lady of fashion has a way of scrambling quite the cleverest references into something that is entirely new and in this case, at times, almost futuristic in flavour, look closely and surely there are shades of Dolly Parton in the vaguely country-and-western-inspired look, not to mention glam rock – gold and silver leather and flashes of fluorescent colour bring Kensington Market circa 1975 to mind, if only in the most lateral manner and considerably more luxe in its use of materials.
And so, here is our heroine, dressed in colours that are as clear and confident as the silhouette they bring to life so vividly. As studies of celebrity go, there's nothing much passive about this particular character. Instead, she is a woman who thinks nothing of shrugging on an oversized biker jacket – that leitmotif of rock culture and of this collection, too – with shoulders that would barely fit through the average doorway, and inlaid with highly stylised flowers, oversized stars and Evel Knievel flames. Her high-waisted, this time subtly on the large side, satin dress, in an equally clear juxtaposition of shades – black, white and red (for sin?) – is similarly show-stopping, though never in an obviously sexual way. Miuccia Prada doesn't do "obviously sexy".
Miu Miu has long been perceived as Prada's naughty little sister and, while potentially reductive – with this designer powerhouse, things are rarely as simple as they seem – there is certainly a distinctly mischievous and even anarchic spirit at play here.
Above all, this aesthetic is both wittily rebellious and determinedly youthful. It's a look to kill – not to die – for, then, made all the more desirable by the fact that it is finished with tooled leather in Day-Glo shades of hot pink, lemon and lime that finds its way on to the elaborate necklines of clothing, sweet matching shoulder bags, and the lacing on characteristically intricate spike-heeled shoes.
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