The Intersection of Fashion and Music: A 2024 Retrospective

The intersection of music and fashion has long been a significant influence in helping to shape popular culture. Both music and fashion have the power to create trends and inspire creativity with their respective fans. Fashion Reverie looks back over the past 30 years to touch on a history of when music and fashion came together to influence and define generations for decades.

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The public fascination with their idols’ fashion and beauty choices began as early as the days of Sinatra’s stylish Rat Pack that spanned from the late 1950’s to mid-1960’s.  At this point, the intersection between music and fashion was of an organic nature. The Rat Pack did not purposely set about to create fashion trends, but they unwittingly served as a fashion influence on their audiences, much as musicians and corporations would in the decades that followed. Rather, this informal group of entertainers (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop), possessed innate style that appealed to men of that time who copied their effortlessly dapper classic elegance. Frank Sinatra remained a style icon to this generation for the rest of his life.

Next, came the undeniable influence of MTV. The MTV Channel first aired on August 1, 1981, and became known as “MTV Hour One.”  Although the official messaging was about music and television coming together, what MTV executives had not initially planned on was the impact the musicians and their videos would have on fashion.

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The first videos, The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” is quaintly simplistic compared to 2024 standards, but audiences responded, and started emulating the clothes, hair, and makeup of their favorite musicians. Fast forward to 1982 when Madonna debuted on MTV with “Everybody” and 2 years later with her club hit, “Lucky Star.” Both were low budget and the Material Girl styled herself as she was too poor to afford a stylist. Young female fans flocked to her concerts, dressed up in black mesh tops with lace head bows, rubber bracelets and crucifixes, seeking to copy Madonna’s glam punk look. This was the beginning of the self-expression movement that Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish would continue to promote through their music and fashion choices in the 2000’s. It is of note that David Bowie and Blondie were also style icons, but their underground fashion looks were not monetarily viable. Their fans fashioned their self-styled costumes with finds from Good Will and other thrift shops.

In 1984, all of that changed as fashion and music began to go more mainstream. A big jump in this direction came when Madonna hired Maripol, a Moroccan fashion stylist, credited for putting together Madonna’s infamous “Like a Virgin” look. Other musicians took note and hired fashion stylists to the extent that fashion music stylists became important players in the fashion scene.

This intersection between music and fashion gained momentum over the next three decades as other artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Spice Girls, and Courtney Love continued to inspire both fans and fashion designers. Fashion designers made clothing to capitalize on the public’s growing interest in what musicians wore. One of the biggest trends in the 1990’s was B.I.G.’s Timberland shirt, and baggy trousers. Teens flocked to Tommy Hilfiger and Banana Republic to scoop up items from them to achieve this streetwear style trend.

In 2024, the relationship between music and fashion remains as vibrant as ever. Below are five examples of the present day’s most notable examples.

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The annual MET Gala

The Gala has morphed from a fashion industry event in the 1990’s to a fashion platform for innumerable music stars as early as the 2010’s when performers such as Gwen Stefani (LA.M.B.), Jennifer Lopez, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and so many more made regular appearances on the Gala’s red carpet.  This year, musician Bad Bunny was not only one of the invitees but was also a Gala’s co-chair.

A$AP, the Harlem born rapper, is closely reported on for his sartorial style and Gucci took notice. In 2023, fashion photographer, Glen Luchford, shot him alongside Julia Garner, and Elliot Page, who were chosen for their “bold authenticity” and artistic achievements. In the video and stills for the campaign, Grammy-Award nominated A$AP Rocky, Oscar-Award nominated Page, and Emmy-Award winner Julia Garner, lounge in the lavish and nostalgic spaces of a vintage estate. According to Gucci’s website, the campaign is “an ode to the idea of home, a literal but also metaphorical place where we are free to be our whole, authentic selves.”

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Netflix and Riley Keogh in Daisy Jones & the Six

Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, actor, Riley Keough, smashed Netflix streaming records for her performance in “Daisy Jones & the Six” earlier this year. The thinly veiled biopic of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac reignited interest in Nicks’ flowing haute 1970’s bohemian look in the fashion sphere. Executives at Chanel responded by naming Keough their new brand ambassador. As such, she stars alongside model Rianne Van Rompaey in the spring 2024 Chanel clothing and beauty campaigns, shot by fashion photographers Inez & Vinoodh.

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Dior and Louis Vuitton

Both Travis Scott and Pharrell Williams have recently collaborated with two of the world’s most prestigious brands, Dior and Louis Vuitton. Scott incorporated elements of his own street inspired Cactus Jack line to help create a successful and visually striking collection inspired and dedicated to his late friend fellow rapper, Pop Smoke, whose biggest hit was entitled “Dior.” The collaboration struck a chord with fans and successfully combined elements of streetwear with high fashion.

Williams’ appointment as creative director for Louis Vuitton men was one of the most highly reported on events in recent fashion history. Like Scott, he too drew on his roots as a musician to mold his collections from his nostalgic cowboy themed debut to his most recent homage to the 2024 summer Olympics.

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Billie Eilish and Body Acceptance

Eilish burst onto the music scene in 2014, and from the start, wanted the focus to be on her music, rather than on her body, but this did not mean that she resorted to wearing shapeless sweats or muumuus. Rather, she put together her unique style that was a marked departure from the norm of singers that preceded her. The latter, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce displayed their tightly toned bodies and long flowing hair whenever they performed.

In 2019, Eilish starred in a Calvin Klein campaign and told www.businessinsider.com that “she wears baggy clothes because she doesn’t want the world to know everything about her or have an opinion about her body.” Eilish was right in line with the growing popular movement of body positivity and the right to be okay with being whatever size you happen to be.

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Harry Styles and his Androgynous Over the Top Style

Like Eilish, Harry Styles, one of pop’s most popular singers, got his start very early in life. At age 16, in 2010, Simon Cowan chose him to be part of his One Direction boy band. As the English Irish pop band’s days came to an end in 2015, Styles had transitioned his look from cutesy to grungy hunk, appearing at one of his last concerts in a white tank top and do-rag.

In his next chapter as a solo artist, Styles flexed his fashion muscles and became a controversial figure when he began his collaboration with Gucci’s then creative director, Alessandro Michele in 2018 and ending in 2022 in a collection called “Gucci HAHAHA” in which he modeled avant-garde menswear looks.  

Styles dresses as he pleases, often adopting what were previously considered feminine elements into his looks, blending them with masculine touches. He boldly appeared on the cover of US Vogue in a filmy Gucci dress topped with a structured military style coat, shot by Tyler Mitchell in 2020. The message he conveyed was that you may dress as you wish, and that there is no shame in blurring the boundaries of dressing into a style now referred to as “the new masculinity.”

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Taylor Swift and her “Swifties”

At the pinnacle of today’s fashion-music scene sits Taylor Swift, who according to an article in www.dailyrepublic.com, had 107,442 monthly Google searches about her style in the US alone. The ever-increasing interest in her wardrobe choices is no doubt propelled by the success of the six tours under her belt and her current “Eras” tour that is sold-out world-wide.

Such is Swift’s hold on fans that entire stadiums of “Swifties” come dressed as their self-styled version of their idol. The singer’s recent Super Bowl outfit designed by Dion Lee (Roberto Cavalli’s successor), cost over $50,000, according to www.dailyrepublic.com. The chanteuse works closely with her stylist, Joseph Cassell Falconer, to change her look, much to her fans’ delight.

Swift is constantly photographed on the red carpet experimenting with different colors, textures, and silhouettes, all paired with her iconic red lip. Her most recent favorite is LiquiLust Legendary Wear Matte Lipstick in Elson 4, by Pat McGrath, that is consistently sold out, according to John Saldana, the company’s account executive for the Mid-Atlantic.

There is no doubt that the intersection of music and fashion that began over fifty years ago will continue to have a dynamic influence in helping to shape fashion and our popular culture in the years to come.

Vivian Kelly

 

 

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