Ready To Wear: Why designers love to dress pop music's leading ladies

 

It's official. Music's leading ladies are the new cover stars – knocking any actor/model/First Lady off the front of US Vogue, probably the world's most influential glossy magazine, not one, but two months running. In March (the "power" issue) Lady Gaga was awarded this honour.

For April (the "shape" issue), it's the turn of Rihanna (pictured). Of course, the preternaturally beautiful physique of this, the most successful pop star of her generation, is worthy of celebration alone. More than that, though, the move is nothing if not testimony to the increasingly fruitful symbiosis between fashion and music.

A quick glance at red carpeted occasions explains why designers, while still happy to dress actors – from fledgling talent to veritable superstars – might find working with their musical counterparts more inspiring. The tyranny of the Hollywood stylist and a mindset that decrees that flattery is the Holy Grail, has led to an increasingly homogeneous and indeed retro look as far as any public appearance is concerned: think strapless, corseted, fishtail-skirted gowns to the point, almost, of torpor. Yes, this might emphasise the gym-honed perfection of the body beneath, but it's an aesthetic that's in danger of reducing fashion's most celebrated names to mere dressmakers, catering to the needs of the rich and famous at the expense of either innovation or experimentation.

Both Gaga and Rihanna – not to mention Björk, Beyoncé Knowles, Kylie Minogue and, of course, the mother of them all, Madonna – are rather more adventurous in their choice of dress, however. Gaga went so far as to model for her friend and collaborator, Nicola Formichetti, newly instated designer at Thierry Mugler, at last month's Paris shows. Rihanna, meanwhile, is as happy in straight-off-the-catwalk, ultra-bright Prada as she is in Scarlett O'Hara-esque rose-printed Oscar de la Renta; as lovely in Lanvin as she is fierce in Dolce & Gabbana.

While Gwyneth Paltrow et al name-check the designer who dresses them, in their less conservative sense of style Rihanna and her cohorts bring their designs to glorious and celebratory life. And that is worth far more.

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