A Flashback on the Intersectionality of Fashion and Music Throughout the Decades

For the month of June, fashionreverie.com demonstrates the intersectionality between fashion and music. In chronological order, you’ll find the beautiful journey of both forms of art and the riveting cross pollination of both art forms.

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Hippie Movement

The Hippie Movement, known for its everlasting impact, made hippies abandon the mainstream ideals of that time, embracing a free-spirited, self-affirming, bohemian approach to life. Cruising maxi dresses, bell-bottom pants, tie-dye shirts, peasant blouses, and fringed vests became the norm with this movement.

Hippies also embraced natural fabrics, earthy colors, and handcrafted accessories, echoing their devotion to an alternative and sustainable lifestyle. Their fashion taste symbolized a rejection of societal norms and a celebration of individuality and harmony. Additionally, folk music, psychedelic sounds, and rock evolved into the culture, with artists like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead paving the way. The music signifies the spirit of rebellion, anti-war sentiments, and a yearning for social shift.

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Black Power Movement

The Black Power Movement gave life to the spirit of black pride and empowerment. This movement highlighted a visual presentation of black heritage and identity. African-inspired clothing, such as dashikis, kente cloth, and traditional head wraps grew into symbols of black pride and resistance against Eurocentric beauty norms. Furthermore, natural hairstyles like Afros and braids surged through the mainstream standards of beauty that had marginalized black beauty standards.

Artists like Nina Simone, James Brown, Gil Scott-Heron, and The Last Poets imbued their music with politically charged lyrics and soulful rhythms, addressing racism, black empowerment, and challenging the norms of that time. The music became a rallying cry for the movement and provided an outlet to rebel against systemic racism and advocate for black pride and liberation. The impact of this movement on our culture spreads far beyond the 60s, still inspiring generations and influencing the ongoing fight against racism.

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Soul Train

Premiering in 1971, this iconic show played a key role in shaping 1970s culture by making  a platform committed to previewing Black music and dance. “Soul Train” created fashion trends with its vibrant and eclectic style that celebrated self-expression with the dancers showcasing a range of distinctive and daring looks. Afro hairstyles, bell-bottom pants, platform shoes, colorful prints, and bold accessories inspired viewers to embrace their individuality and black heritage. “Soul Train” also showcased a variety of musical genres, such as soul, funk, disco, and R&B, giving way to both up and coming talents. A packed catalog of performers by legends like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye, enchanted viewers with their phenomenal performances.

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Not just an icon and trailblazer in music, but trendsetter in fashion, Madonna pioneered a way for female stars outside of fashion to demonstrate their own fashion taste and make an impact. Known for her provoking style and fearlessness, Madonna pushed boundaries and challenged the norms through her fashion choice.

Her iconic looks, like the “Boy Toy” belt, lace gloves, cone bras, and layered accessories, became the embodiment of her presence. Her fashion sense merged characteristics of street style, punk, and glamor, and she was constantly evolving and redefining her style with each album and era.

Her music played a pivotal role in shaping the pop landscape that this generation’s artists use as a foundation. With mega hits like “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” and “Vogue,” Madonna continuously pushed the boundaries of pop music, mixing genres, and pushing controversy. She symbolized female empowerment and liberation, contesting traditional concepts of femininity and sexuality.


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Yuppie Culture

Embodying the materialistic and affluent aura of the era, this culture welcomed a polished and well-groomed tone that reflected the ‘Greed is Good’ 80s. Power suits, luxury designer brands and watches, tailored blazers, and pinstriped shirts became the sartorial emblems of success and high status, evidenced in luxury brands like Thierry Mugler, Chanel, and Donna Karan.  Musically, the Yuppie culture fell for upbeat vibes of genres like pop, glam rock, and new wave. Artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Culture Club, and Duran Duran dominated the charts with their catchy tunes and flamboyant fashion choices were just the right taste for what The Yuppies were craving.

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Rise of Hip Hop

Starting out as a polarizing genre and a form of art with a raw feel for African American people to express themselves that has now grown to be the most dominating music genre. It’s no surprise fashion ended up in the mix of Hip Hop. From oversized clothes to the combination of streetwear and designer brands, the range of styles were endless. Being the top music genre to complement fashion, we’ve seen hip hop musicians like Kanye, Pharrell, A$AP Rocky, and many more rappers dive into careers in fashion at top luxury brands.

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Grunge Movement

This movement challenged the lustrous aesthetics of prior decades, opening doors to an authentic and disheveled style. Ripped jeans, flannel shirts, oversized sweaters, and combat boots were symbols of expression when it came to this movement, symbolizing anti-establishment and non-conformity.

With high-end brands taking notice and integrating the grunge elements into their collections, the look quickly spread like wildfire as the grunge music took over with force. Distinguished by its distorted guitar riffs, anguished lyrics, and raw, gritty sound, grunge contested the glossy and artificial pop music dominating music at the time. Bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jams, and many more became synonymous with the genre.

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M.I.A – Paper Planes

Starting the career of an artist who broke boundaries in music, Paper Planes not only paved the way for M.I.A’s music career, also sending  powerful message to the world. Dialing in themes of the struggles and prejudice that immigrants face when trying to travel, this song allowed immigrants around the world to relate to M.I.A when she endured hardship getting a work visa because she matched the profile of a terrorist.

With her story about her childhood living in Sri Lanka at the height of their civil war and moving to London for a better future yet struggling to enter the states, there was no better messenger for immigrant and inclusion than M.I.A. These musical and lyrical themes paved the way for M.I.A to take a polarizing route with a fashion style boasting her love for fluorescent colors, oversized clothes, and graphic prints. M.I.A took hardship and war and turned them into a musical expression.

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Black Lives Matter

Stemming from a tragic event, Americans of all backgrounds came together to protest the inequality that black people face today in this country. This blossomed a cultural, impacting social constructs.

Dominating the charts and the music industry, Lil Baby stepped out of his comfort zone dropping a song with a theme augmenting the BLM movement called “The Bigger Picture.” With more than 183 million views on youtube and 2 times platinum, this song charted everyone’s playlists and gave a deeper meaning to their protest. To add a cherry on top, the NBA showing support via BLM shirts made waves throughout the country, followed by a myriad of major brands donating to the movement.

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Gender-Neutral Fashion Trends

When the world looked for something new in the world of fashion, musicians were up for the challenge and revitalized gender-bending outfits. From Jaden Smith to Harry Styles and Bad Bunny, and many other musical icons, gender fluidity has become popular in fashion.

With some of the pioneers of genderbending fashion like Elton John, Grace Jones, and David Bowie, it’s a full circle moment seeing icons of this generation bringing non-binary style back to life. Ranging from Harry Style gracing the cover of Vogue with a dress, to Bad Bunny breaking gender norms at the MET Gala, fashion continues to evolve.

—Lauren Pierre-Louis

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