Even before MTV and YouTube, there was an inherent link between music and fashion. Something fundamental about these forms of creative expression created a connection for artists to feed off of, and, over time, the two mediums have influenced each other. With the advent of music videos and the tendency for artists to migrate toward fashion design, the bond became even stronger. Kanye does it, and so did Debbie Harry. She invented the femme fatale/chic style that we’ve all come to know and love: Docs, black nylons, and that perfect red lip that everyone’s striving for.
Moving forward to the ‘90s, we’re confronted by the loud colors, fluorescent glitter, and catchy pop of the Spice Girls. What would their music be without Posh Spice’s mini-dresses or Sporty Spice’s track suits and bra tops (All three of these trends, by the way, we can see today in any Calvin Klein campaign)? One artistic medium inextricably held hands with another. Even more so today, musicians are seen as fashion icons and creators instead of strictly musical professionals.
The concept of Renaissance individuals is coming back into style. In the October issue of W Magazine, Kanye West was praised as our generation’s Renaissance Man, and who could argue? He’s designed four seasons of Yeezy collections, released eight studio albums, and collaborated with countless other artists. His “Runaway” video is more of a film than a music video, especially if you consider the full length version, clocking in at 34 minutes and 32 seconds. It features ballerinas, sleek tuxes, bird costumes of operatic proportions, and a full storyline.
This trend became more apparent when YouTube began aggressively advertising a new music video by Dua Lipa, a 21-year-old English musician. Her video for “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” caught my attention for a few different reasons. The song was catchy, but not to guilt-inducing levels like most pop, and the clothes featured in the video were gorgeous. Bulky jackets, bright colors, chunky jewelry, and even glitter helped bring Lipa’s art to the next level—past just one song. Instead, it was blended with fashion. The styling of this music video allowed exposure for director Kinga Burza, for fashion brands, and for the dancers featured, while also expressing a message that Lipa’s song alone couldn’t show. The inclusion of LGBT symbols (flags, pins, patches on clothes) gives a new depth to the artistic expression of the song. Otherwise, listeners might take the music at face value. With the clever use of fashion and other outlets of media-fusion, however, deeper meanings and emotions can be gleaned (If you need a new pump up song or want some new fashion inspiration, I highly recommend checking her out. Another to explore: Anne-Marie’s “Alarm”—because bra-tops and berets make for a great combo).
The relationship between fashion and music serves as powerful symbol of what can be created when limits are abandoned and artists allow themselves to become just that: artists, to the fullest extent, unrestricted by a subheading or background.
Text by Isabel Crabtree
Photography by Adam Ward