Some rock stars have it, others eventually get it. But finding that stylish groove is something all these singers know how to do.
Today’s fashionable icons of rock didn’t always look this good. Sure, some of them may have been born with natural style, but for others, the path to enlightened chic has had its fair share of bumps and potholes. Thankfully, these ladies have made the journey and stand today as models of style, whether working a look that no one but they can pull off or setting a trend for the rest of us to follow.
No story on fashion and music could ignore the power of Madonna. She above anyone else has turned her image into a business. Single-handedly, she’s probably started more fashion frenzies than anyone else. Rubber bracelets, innerwear as outerwear, sleeveless Ts, cowboy shirts, spangled jeans…the list goes on and on.
But the Material Mom isn’t the only rocker to have stayed the course longer than her album’s Top 40 shelf life. Janet Jackson sauntered onto the stage almost before she could walk, as a cute sidekick to her famous Jackson 5 brothers in the late Seventies. And even as her brother Michael’s star wanes ever more into the world of the weird, she reinvents her style. During the Eighties, she ruled with empowered dance tracks and tough, military “Rhythm Nation” outfits, only to be reborn, under the watchful lens of photographer Herb Ritts, into a dazzling, soft, feminine beauty in 1991. (Who can forget the iconic “Rolling Stone” magazine cover of her bare chest being covered by two hands?) And yet again, on her last album, “All for You,” she rocked into the Millennium proving to all the dance-and-shake acts out there that she’s still the queen of the stage at age 37.
Then there’s the cast of rockers who never compromise their sound or look. With her short, spiked, flaming orange hair and mannish clothes, Annie Lennox smashed all androgynous boundaries when she and Dave Stewart debuted the Eurythmics in 1983. She slowly morphed her style as the decade progressed and finally, after she and Stewart split, she came out with 1992’s solo, “Diva,” for which she worked pomp and circumstance à la “Dangerous Liaisons.” Today, with the release of “Bare,” Lennox has settled into a comfortable stripped-down chic that riffs on her earlier masculine tendencies, and with that short, spiked hair, she’s still purely rock ’n’ roll.
In a similar vein, Iceland’s Björk has always danced to her own tune. In the mid-Eighties, when she fronted the Sugarcubes, she always wore ethereal confections that were equal parts modern dominatrix and woodland sprite, often which she created herself. But when she went solo and claimed international renown, she started experimenting with arty, off-the-radar designers, like Marjan Djodjov Pejoski. Pejoski created the feathery swan dress Björk wore to the 2001 Academy Awards. Fashion purists tsk-tsked the choice, but those who appreciate her free spirit thought the look — complete with an egg which she dropped on the red carpet — added a little bit of pizzazz in a dull season of fashion. Most importantly, she doesn’t take things so seriously.
And then there are the Cinderella stories. The Courtney Loves of fashion and rock mythology, who, with a little bit of time and a whole lot of style direction, become fashion trendsetters. Queen Latifah’s makeover has gradually evolved, but with the success of the Oscar-winning “Chicago,” Queen has fully ditched her baggy hip-hop track suits for sexy siren gowns, working her curves and making all those skinnier ladies green with envy.
But no other woman epitomizes rock chic like Tina Turner. When she was still a young thing, and under the thumb of Ike Turner, she stuck close to the trends of the times in frumpy sweaters and straight hair — not a look befitting someone with the moxie and voice of a superstar. Eventually, she broke that mold and started showing off her greatest asset — her legs. And ever since 1984’s landmark comeback, “Private Dancer,” she’s made showing off her gams her signature. Nearing the age of 64, she still moves quicker and is sexier than anyone out there.
Tina Turner and Madonna serve as a lesson to those pop lasses who are hungry to stick around for years, if not generations. Britney Spears, who started off cute and suggestive enough, has taken some bad turns — no matter that she wore them in honor of the Super Bowl, customized football togs are never a good idea. But she’s realizing that trashy glitz and standard-issue dominatrix gear won’t take her to the next level, and that grown-up glam will. We hope.