Stylist Katie Baron explores fashion's love-in with music

How did a handful of fashion creatives help build today's big music names? Katie Baron's new book looks at the people behind the pop stars

My second book, Fashion & Music: Fashion Creatives Shaping Pop Culture, is built, at its base, on a very personal thread tracing back to my younger, pre-professional self - the curious but uninformed me that wasn't yet aware of (or interested in) the machinations of the fashion industry and its relatively rarefied cast of elite players. Because when fashion first truly had me in its thrall, it wasn't reading a Comme des Garcons review (no offence, Rei, I am most certainly a fan), but when it came hand in glove with music, as populist as you like and all the more thrilling for it. So while the book has an important academic/analytical slant (race, feminism, gender, cultural appropriation, sexual politics and the impact of internet culture constitute some of the biggest themes) and a satisfying raft of juicy behind-the-scenes stories, it's also an ode to the sheer blind magnetism that happens when these two industries collide.

What I felt then is what I know (and have analysed!) now: that fashion and music are formidable forces - entrancing, bewildering, identity-affirming, panic-inducing, tribe-forming, arguably life-saving and indisputably two of the finest playgrounds for indulging creative vision.

181-grace_arabesque_-_brooklin.jpg

To go back to the beginning for a contextual moment, growing up as I did in the 1980s, the UK television show Top of the Pops and the advent of MTV, seminally wedged in prime-time entertainment, were the two key triggers of my fashion fascination – the places where it
 was thrillingly impossible to separate the contents from the package. From the video 
for Madonna's never-tired club classic Into the Groove to wild child Neneh Cherry performing, nine months pregnant, in bad-boy high-tops, an industrial medallion and a gold Gaultier jacket, the attitude penetrated my consciousness thick, fast and absolutely unforgettably. Later, in common with 99 per cent of creative students, I sought out
 The Face, i-D and Dazed & Confused magazines for my visual inspiration, my cultural protein. But, like I say, they weren't where the fascination truly started.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

As such, this book is a celebratory exploration of how these twin agents of creative expression have long had
 a powerful mutual attraction, and of how fashion has consistently amplified our understanding of 
the band, and in many cases the brand. From Madonna and Arianne Phillips's super tenacious, dual insistence on abject self-expression to Andrea Lieberman's phenomenal capacity to raise artists (Jennifer Lopez, Puff Daddy, Gwen Stefani) from being a solo genre performer into the global creative-crossover spotlight, it's clear that while this relationship has been in play for some time, it has never been more significant. In the digital era, powered by visual soundbites, with pop videos, album art, stage looks and street-style shots distributed, devoured and dissected across the globe in nanoseconds, image means everything. Music may be the foundation, but fashion and the larger-than-life personae it creates have very much become the glue that binds sound, style and attitude.

From music videos to editorial shoots,
 and from ad campaigns to stage shows, via the evolution of some of the industry's most significant, often era-defining collaborations, the book focuses on the power of the fashion–music synthesis, 
as agent for reflection but also for
 change. It's a socio-pop-cultural journey that ruminates on the way
 we communicate, concoct, perceive and represent our ideas, and, I hope, something that will prove exciting to anyone (fashion obsessed or initially couldn't care less) about the way in which fashion can be used as a medium with which to innovate, communicate and seduce.

KATIE BARON is a journalist, author and creative consultant specialising in fashion, retail, design and popular culture. Her latest book Fashion + Music: Fashion Creatives Shaping Pop Culture is published by Laurence King, £30. laurenceking.com; katiebaron.com

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us