Listen to this article
From Michael Travis’s lavish gowns for the Supremes to Madonna in Jean Paul Gaultier’s corsetry, fashion and pop music have always had a close relationship. Now, however, any musician with an ounce of credibility can barely start lip-syncing before brands are lining up to collaborate with them in pursuit of some vicarious cool appeal. As for the musicians, they get extra exposure and maybe even a makeover. Here’s who’s set to rock the fashion world in 2014.
A$AP Rocky and DKNY
Harlem rappers have a reputation for dressing extravagantly, such as the fur coat-wearing Cam’ron, who led a not altogether successful campaign in the 2000s to popularise the colour pink among macho men.
The latest uptown clotheshorse is A$AP Rocky, whose debut album topped the US charts last year. “Yeah my mouth is full of gold and I’m a city boy/ My outfit was in Vogue and I’m a pretty boy,” he rapped on it. Vogue beckons again following A$AP’s link-up with DKNY’s spring/summer campaign. The rapper modelled for it in Times Square, looking stylish in a white suit, black shirt and loafers, and also a blue jacket and shorts combo that only a pretty boy could carry off. The benefits are mutual: DKNY promotes its image as a streetwise New York brand while A$AP gets to represent a classier kind of Harlem flamboyance than Cam’ron’s wardrobe of pink furs.
Erykah Badu and Givenchy
Givenchy’s creative director Riccardo Tisci describes Badu as his “dream icon” and she is now appearing in his ad campaign. The Texas-born singer is one of the most distinctive voices in R&B, from her early days in the 1990s as a socially conscious soul singer to the marvellous psychedelic futurism of her recent work.
With Tisci’s spring collection taking inspiration from Africa, Badu’s neo-soul origins are likely to have been a reference point: flowing fabrics, earthy tones, tribal patterning. The singer will appear with two other models, Maria Borges and Eboni Riley, “black goddesses” in Tisci’s words – in a move that follows mounting criticism of fashion’s over-preponderance of white faces.
Lady Gaga and Versace
Lady Gaga’s latest album, Artpop, includes the song “Donatella” in which Gaga marvels at the Versace chief designer and vice-president’s ability to chain-smoke cigarettes and look “blonde”, “skinny” and “rich” while behaving “like a little bit of a bitch” (a compliment in Gaga-speak). Not only has the singer been picked as the face of the label’s spring/summer collection but she appears to have morphed into Donatella Versace.
The campaign shows Gaga with long, immaculately straight platinum blonde hair in a clingy lilac Versace dress, her skin glowing with a honeyed sheen, a true Donatella clone. Gaga is a long-time Versace obsessive whom Donatella describes as “like family to me”. But there are dangers. One is Gaga’s outrageous dress sense, which makes Versace’s outfits look unusually demure. The other is the pop diva’s waning star, wags having nicknamed her album “Artflop” for its disappointing sales.
Justin Timberlake and Tom Ford
Jay-Z named a song after Tom Ford on his latest album but it’s Justin Timberlake with whom the designer has chosen to work most closely. Ford is the wardrobe designer for the singer’s 20/20 Experience world tour, which began in New York in November and arrives in Europe later this year. It is the first tour that Ford has designed for, cementing an alliance that began in 2011 when Timberlake tapped the former Gucci man for sartorial advice. It was needed. Despite his involvement with the William Rast label, the R&B/pop charmer and actor has a history of fashion disasters, from the shiny boilersuits and gelled hair of his ’N Sync years to the frankly ghastly double-denim look he adopted while squiring Britney Spears in the 1990s.
Under Ford’s guidance the baggy sports clothes and bandannas have been replaced by an immaculately tailored 1950s uniform of dark suits and evening wear. “Have you seen the body?” Ford enthused about his famous mannequin last year.
Jake Bugg and Saint Laurent
In 1971 Yves Saint Laurent dressed Mick and Bianca Jagger for their St Tropez wedding. The groom wore a green three-piece suit and sneakers while the bride wore a figure-hugging white trouser suit. The designer died in 2008 but the label’s links to rock continue with the Saint Laurent Music Project, a series of portraits of musicians from Chuck Berry to Daft Punk.
The latest is singer-songwriter Jake Bugg. In Hedi Slimane’s shoot he wears a classic L01 black leather motorcycle jacket and cradles an acoustic guitar, looking uncannily like a youthful Jagger. The working-class troubadour has a pensive expression – possibly thinking of his previous brush with high fashion, when a brief relationship with the model Cara Delevingne was greeted by a British tabloid newspaper with the headline: “When posh totty meets pop grotty”.
Rihanna and Balmain/Viva Glam Mac
Two new ventures sum up Rihanna’s chameleon-like ability to move between top-end fashion and the high street.
This month she released her latest lipstick for Mac Cosmetics in the Viva Glam range. She is also the new face of Balmain, promoting its spring/summer collection. One photograph for the campaign shows her in a pink robe and gold-tipped boots, her face hidden behind a disorderly bob. Other outfits include a black leather boiler suit with gold buttons and a gold-embroidered denim skirt paired with an off-the-shoulder denim top. No sign of the Bajan teen who emerged in 2005 in stonewashed jeans and colourful cropped tops.
Dev Hynes and Dominic Jones
British jeweller Dominic Jones has some heavyweight musical endorsements under his belt, his creations having turned up in videos by Beyoncé and David Bowie. But the look book for his debut menswear spring/summer collection swaps A-List stars for indie musicians from bands such as Foals and These New Puritans.
Among them is Devonté “Dev” Hynes, a singer-songwriter who, under the name Blood Orange, makes languid alt-R&B and works with the likes of Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles. Hynes is shown wearing a necklace with a small pendant standing out against his tie and dark shirt; the pendant is an oval with sharp edges, a muted variant on the metallic talons and claws of Jones’s jewellery for women. Other pieces include rings and cufflink studs, their angular attack softened by smooth rounded shapes. Edgy, but not too edgy.