The Musician and The Designer

Music and fashion often make for the best bedmates – their babies looking as good as they sound – as the following collaborations between musician and designer, sound and vision can beautifully attest to.

Kansai Yamamoto & David Bowie

Being the cultural butterfly that he was, the David Bowie of 1971 could not have missed the work of Kansai Yamamoto. With traditional Japanese garb as inspiration, the Yokohama-born designer had built himself a lavish and avant garde portfolio of exaggerated silhouettes and flashy colors – flamboyant enough to earn him his first London show at the mere age of 27. From there, Bowie reportedly took to Yamamoto’s sci-fi reading of classical Kabuki theatre, and commissioned the designer to create nine costumes for his live wardrobe. Based on Japanese Noh dramas, these pieces would form the centerpiece of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust stage shows in 1973, and serve as the perfect foil to his own alien creation.

Ossie Clark & Mick Jagger

The man who dressed London’s Swinging Sixties, Ossie Clark’s designs were fluid and romantic visions of art prints and marocain (the kind of stuff we now call boho). Dubbed “The King of King’s Road”, Clark was championed both in the fashion and rock ‘n’ roll circles – Pattie Boyd and Chrissie Shrimpton modeled his wares, and Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithful shared an Ossie snakeskin suit. It was also via Marianne that Clark scored the patronage of Mick Jagger, for whom he designed a series of jumpsuits. Throughout the ‘70s, Jagger would strut onstage in these pieces that included a leather jumpsuit (that was so complicated with its ties and laces that Clark had to dress Jagger himself), a blue all-in-one suit held together by hundreds of silver circles, as well as jackets with embellished sleeves. The perfect show pieces for the perfect showman.

Vivienne Westwood & The Sex Pistols

Vivienne Westwood’s long-standing brand of anarchic playfulness could only stem from one place – the heart of punk. She and partner-in-crime Malcolm McLaren were right there when punk stumbled into London in the mid ‘70s, and took it upon themselves to dress the punk masses out of Sex, their boutique on King’s Road, which stocked Westwood’s bondage and biker-inspired creations. Chief amongst their models were The Sex Pistols, the band formed under the aegis of McLaren, who wore their bondage gear like they meant it, adding sound and fury to Westwood’s look and feel. Nothing was taboo and everything was permitted on this joint force, which, with a few well-placed safety pins, rips and tears, as well as a subversive and inflammatory catalogue of punk, would boldly profane upon the walls of the Establishment.

Alexander McQueen & Björk

If anything, both Björk and the late Alexander McQueen have always stood for that bit of envelope-pushing, and their long partnership in art and fashion has seen more than a few boundaries coming down. It began when the Icelandic songstress sought McQueen’s art direction for her Homogenic sleeve (he would also direct the video for “Alarm Call” off the same album) in 1997, when both were nascent upstarts in their respective circles. As their names grew, so their collaboration flourished: McQueen notably dressing (or sewing) Björk in a topless pearl dress for her “Pagan Poetry” video, and getting her behind a crystal mask for her performance at Fashion Rocks in 2003. The years in between saw Björk stepping out more than once in a McQueen creation – including her appearance at his memorial service, where her rendition of “Gloomy Sunday” in a structural McQueen gown, complete with paper-like angels wings, made for a poignant farewell to her kindred spirit.

Christian Joy & Karen O

The woman responsible for turning Karen O into a walking piece of art, Christian Joy was never once trained in fashion or design, and instead, has churned out threads that come straight out of her instinctive punk-ish playfulness. That’s suited the equally irrepressible Miss O just fine, as the YYYs frontwoman certainly owns the flash to match Joy’s elaborate, arty and psychedelic costumes. And since Karen’s rarely caught dead in anything but Christian Joy, so Joy’s work has appeared across festival stages, on TV and in magazines. Having been given the nod from fashion heads, Joy has also turned her hand to an eponymous RTW line, where her subtler inclinations get aired. No guesses as to who’s modeling the lookbook.

by The Kid

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