Mu­sic

Anne T. Don­ahue ex­plores the ever-present re­la­tion­ship be­tween mu­si­cians and beauty.

Fashion (Canada) - - CONTENTS -

An ex­plo­ration of the long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween beauty and mu­si­cians; Po­laris winner Lido Pimienta talks about her on­stage beauty look; Met­ric’s Emily Haines has a fresh take on fra­grance.

In sev­enth grade, I wanted to be Baby Spice. So, de­spite hav­ing wavy brown hair and not be­ing al­lowed to wear real makeup, I pulled my hair into pig­tails, swiped on clear lip­gloss and told my­self that by do­ing these things, I looked just like Emma Bun­ton.

Of course, we didn’t look alike, sound alike or dress alike. But em­u­lat­ing her through hair and makeup made me feel less awk­ward. Be­cause I had pig­tails like Baby Spice, I could feel cute and grown-up and, more im­por­tantly, “zig-a-zig-ah” (what­ever that meant).

And I wasn’t the only one. More than two decades af­ter the re­lease of “Wannabe,” we still tie the Spice Girls to what they looked like. While beauty and mu­sic both rely on evo­lu­tion, the two still find them­selves rooted in spe­cific per­sonas or even sub­cul­tures, and where mod­els and ac­tresses rely on be­ing aes­thet­i­cally fluid, mu­si­cians make beauty seem like an ex­ten­sion of self.

This con­cept is hardly new. When Beatle­ma­nia hit in the 1960s, the Fab Four not only brought in­ter­est­ing hair­cuts with them but also in­tro­duced North Amer­ica to Eng­land’s mod cul­ture and the fashion and beauty that went with it. In the 1970s, David Bowie pre­sented the masses with bold an­drog­yny, blur­ring the lines be­tween tra­di­tional mas­culin­ity and fem­i­nin­ity with bright hair, vi­brant makeup and se­quined suits. In the 1980s, post­punk brought with it dark hair and lined eyes thanks to acts like The Cure, while the same decade de­liv­ered Madonna, a woman whose ca­reer is based on the ver­sions of her­self that she cre­ates over and over again.

And then there were the 1990s. Eclec­tic and re­ac­tionary, this decade cre­ated space for more gen­res (fi­nally) by cel­e­brat­ing artists like Se­lena (whose makeup be­came so iconic that M.A.C re­leased a col­lec­tion based on it—21 years af­ter her death), Court­ney Love (whose dark eye makeup and smeared lips be­came sta­ples of the ’90s) and TLC (with their hair­styles that were—and still are—un­par­al­leled). Plus, there were pop acts like the Spice Girls, Brit­ney Spears and Christina Aguil­era, whose aes­thet­ics lacked risk but made them seem ac­ces­si­ble to young lis­ten­ers. Now we have singers like Rihanna (who just launched a best­selling makeup line) and Ari­ana Grande (for­ever one with her trade­mark pony­tail) who con­tinue to change and evolve but still re­main loyal to cer­tain beauty choices. And we still as­pire to look like them.

Well, not tech­ni­cally. In 2018, au­then­tic­ity is cur­rency, es­pe­cially when it comes from mu­si­cians. But that’s why we grav­i­tate to the artists whose looks rep­re­sent the traits we want to see in our­selves. When we use Fenty Beauty, we’re not try­ing

to copy Rihanna—we’re try­ing to chan­nel her com­plex­ity and her con­fi­dence. When we wear Grande’s M.A.C lip­sticks, we don’t think any­one’s about to mis­take us for the singer, but we do feel closer to who we think she is (and the as­pects of her art and mu­sic and per­son­al­ity that we wish we had). And that makes rein­ven­tion even more ex­cit­ing, be­cause if a mu­si­cian taps into a part of them­selves they haven’t ex­plored be­fore, through beauty, what will this new phase teach us about our­selves? The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.

This is par­tic­u­larly true be­cause rein­ven­tion and change are cru­cial to good mu­sic. And while some beauty trade­marks may not com­pletely dis­ap­pear (see: Grande’s pony­tail), most artists do tend to par­al­lel their new mu­si­cal eras with new ap­proaches to aes­thet­ics and beauty. And why wouldn’t they? An artist who re­mains aes­thet­i­cally stag­nant can be ac­cused of stag­na­tion in their craft. Think about it: Drake grew a beard to (we as­sume) ap­pear more adult. Rihanna has had a dif­fer­ent hair colour and hair­style for ev­ery al­bum. Grande may still have the pony­tail, but her makeup is darker and more dra­matic. Even when it’s sub­tle, change can be afoot. Not ev­ery­body has to be Madonna. And not ev­ery­one should. While Madonna’s ca­reer has been largely built on her abil­ity to shape-shift, she has also reg­u­larly made gross mis­steps through cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion (see: her bindi phase).

To many mu­si­cians, evo­lu­tion comes in the form of com­plete aban­don­ment. Harry Styles cut his hair off in the wake of One Di­rec­tion go­ing on hia­tus, and Justin Bieber and Mi­ley Cyrus bleached theirs upon en­ter­ing new, riskier life phases. But not ev­ery sign of evo­lu­tion needs to in­volve shock-worthy change. Bowie stopped be­ing Ziggy Star­dust decades be­fore his death, but he never con­demned that era—or any­one who still loved it. Love no longer prefers her lip­stick smeared. Posh Spice changed her bob, and Bey­oncé’s hair looks noth­ing like it did dur­ing her Des­tiny’s Child days. To in­cite change through tran­si­tion­ing one’s hair and makeup is healthy and good, but to con­demn any­thing that came be­fore them is not, es­pe­cially since it sug­gests that any­one who em­u­lated that era was wrong.

And I don’t think I was. Sure, I was a 12-year-old girl with un­even pig­tails in North­ern Get­away sweats, but I felt like a grown-ass woman named Baby Spice. And while I wouldn’t do it again, I still ap­pre­ci­ate that it al­lowed me to feel how I imag­ined a pop star feels—even though I was read­ing alone at re­cess.

THE MA­TE­RIAL GIRL, PRE-BLEACH BOT­TLE, AP­PLY­ING LIP­STICK IN 1979

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