Image: How music and fashion are curating popular culture.
VERSACE, VERSACE, VERSACE. – Migos ft. Drake
Fashion and music have always fed off of one another, in terms of both creative input and industry development. Today, the two industries have culminated at a crossroads, ultimately conjoining through the immense rise of hip hop and street fashion in parallel with luxury brands and their ambassadors. Fashion and music are almost indistinguishable from one another today, as industries that work hand in hand, meticulously cultivating and sculpting pop culture.
With couture being the new street wear and vice versa, songs like Gucci Gang, Nikes and Chanel are at the forefront of a culture that has been in the works for years. A cross breed of sorts, of two sectors once divided by price tags, status symbols and talent.
An A$AP Rocky album resembles a well crafted podcast about the most coveted new fashion labels to look out for, a memo of sorts to Hypebeasts worldwide on what to search for, what is considered dope and what merits attention in the fashion industry. With songs like Fashion Killa and Raf, one cannot help but wonder how the relationship between fashion and music became so symbiotic.
Although not a novel unison, as these two industries have been intertwined for years, both art forms have been used to create a complete aesthetic for iconic talents worldwide, implementing and instigating various social movements in the process.
In the 1970’s the infamous Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, styled together members of the band. Their inspiration came from BDSM, bondage and bikers, thus birthing the Punk Rock movement forward as a lifestyle, and creating an iconic subculture in which both fashion and music were core parts of each other’s DNA.
However, Punk is just one of the many movements that culminated as a result of musical genres colliding with fashion, from The Beatles’ pointy ankle boots to the 2012 Jean Paul Gaultier show inspired by Amy Winehouse, fashion has became more than just an accessory to the musician’s aesthetic but a method by which musicians cultivated and curated their personal image.
Eventually, some musical muses even transitioned into becoming designers, with many singers creating their own brands. Over a decade ago, Victoria Beckham launched her eponymous brand based in London, UK. In 2014, Puma appointed Rihanna as their womenswear artistic director, her Fenty line has spiked Puma sneaker sales by over 40% in 2017. In 2016, Kanye West launched his street wear brand YEEZY, while debuting his Life of Pablo album in Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people. Most recently Beyoncé, launched her activewear line, Ivy Park with Topsho, which got her a CFDA Fashion Icon Award.
Labels nowadays are working with musicians, to create unified pieces of interactive artwork in the form of garments connected to a musical genre and lifestyle. In 2016, Marc Jacobs created his first-ever music video, with director Hype Williams, promoting Jacobs' star studded FW16 campaign. That same year, Kanye West collaborated with Balmain to create the music video for his song “Wolves”. The video featured the Kardashian/Jenner clan and a few of their supermodel friends, all dressed in Balmain’s latest runway outfits. Olivier Rousteing, the brand’s Creative Director has been a long time friend of the family, dressing both Kanye and Kim for The Met Ball - fashion's most prestigious gala - that the same year.
Photo: Steven Klein / Courtesy of Balmain
However, Rousteing is not the only designer to collaborate with Kanye, since his Watch the Throne album in 2011, he has worked with creative director Virgil Abloh, garnering him a Grammy award nomination for Best Recording Package. In early 2018, Abloh was appointed Creative Director for Louis Vuitton's menswear line. A bold choice for the staple fashion house, for male designers, for black historical culture in fashion, as well as a testament to the resonant power of a collaboration between fashion and the music world.
For a long time, fashion has supported music, by enhancing the musician’s creative vision. Their melodies are used to define them, but a singer's style is what makes them recognizable. This never-ending cycle is a true reflection of our society today, a remarkably intertwined social movement reuniting all art forms and pushing us towards something bigger.
Looking closely, you'll find a gradual, albeit purposeful blurring of the lines separating and defining these massive industries. This not only allows for more opportunities in both fields to rise, but also cultivates an openness to experimentation and paradigm shifts through active creation.