Popular British music magazine NME, or New Musical Express, recently named Amy Winehouse the worst-dressed artist at its 2008 Shockwaves Awards. Try telling that to a fashion world smitten with the “Rehab” singer, forgiving every errant tendril of her messy beehive, every smudge of her winged eyeliner and every tabloid-worthy episode of her personal life. (No need to educate this crowd about diva behavior.)
Still, when word leaked out toward the end of Paris Fashion Week that Winehouse was the surprise performer at Fendi’s Avenue Montaigne store party, the anticipation factor among a blasé bunch reached hysterical proportions. In the audience were Karl Lagerfeld, Kanye West, Rihanna, the Olsen twins, Jade Jagger, Claudia Schiffer and fashion mogul Bernard Arnault. “She’s not only a muse, she’s a genius,” said Lagerfeld. “She’s one of the greatest voices today.”
The slender singer took to the stage in a clingy black Fendi dress and gave a riveting performance of her signature brand of retro soul, talking to the audience off-the-cuff between renditions of “Back to Black” and “Valerie.” She professed to know little about La Mode. “Forgive my ignorance, because I know nothing about fashion. How long does fashion week last? Is it really a week?” she asked at one point.
Winehouse confidants insist the singer wasn’t joking: Although Winehouse knows her taste in clothes, she doesn’t consider herself well versed in the fashion industry, preferring to focus on her songs. Given today’s avalanche of singers-cum-designers, that sounds like music to a weary industry’s ears.
Winehouse is said to be writing new material, but no date has been set for the release of her next album. Look out for her on Europe’s festival circuit, with scheduled appearances including the Scottish Festival T in the Park on July 13, and V Festival in England Aug. 16 to 17. As for fashion, it’s anyone’s guess. She chose Dolce & Gabbana for her Grammy performance and has also worn looks from Betsey Johnson, Nanette Lepore, Moschino, Adidas and Miu Miu.