ETERNAL FLAME Designers for whom music is a constant source of inspiration
Idnspiration can come in, and take, all forms. It can be a one-off dalliance, like how the chance encounter between Jane Birkin and Hermes’ Jean-Louis Dumas led to the creation of the Birkin bag. Or it can be a multi-seasonal affair, with Maria Grazia Chiuri exploring the tenets of feminism at Dior. Or it can be a relationship that lasts a lifetime—as is the case for the designers below when it comes to one of the most powerful, pervasive and perpetual sources of inspiration: Music.
Together with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Dame Westwood engineered the ’70s punk phenomenon, a revolution that was based upon equal parts aesthetics and sound: Fetish-wear clothing and aggressive music that worked hand-in-hand to shock and titillate the senses. Post-punk,Westwood and McLaren’s “Pirates” collection, alongside the rise of musicians like Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet, was pivotal to the New Romantic movement.
GIANNI AND DONATELLA VERSACE
Till today, one of the most iconic instances of music and fashion colliding was when Naomi, Cindy, Linda and Christy sang along to “Freedom! ’90” while closing Versace’s fall/winter 1991 show. It was a moment dreamed up by Gianni, who also enlisted the likes of Elton John and Madonna to create music for his shows and star in his campaigns.The tradition lives on with Donatella, be it by playing never-before-heard tracks by Prince at Versace’s men’s spring 2017 show as a posthumous tribute; working with M.I.A and Zayn Malik on capsule collections for Versus; or being namechecked in songs by Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Migos.
Based in Los Angeles since 2008, Slimane has created stagewear for David Bowie, Daft Punk and other major musicians; and is deeply immersed in California’s alternative music scene, photographing indie rockers for books and exhibitions, and engaging them to appear in campaigns, editorials and shows. Slimane’s signature brand of rock ’n’ roll-meets-grit and glamour infused his collections at Dior Homme (skinny silhouettes with Pete Doherty as his muse) and Saint Laurent (Coachella-worthy ensembles with Courtney Love, Joni Mitchell and more for inspiration), and is almost guaranteed to be present in his upcoming work at Céline.
Ask any menswear and/or streetwear enthusiast to name their favourite designer, and there’s a very high chance that Simons will be on the list.The Belgian designer often looks to youth culture through the lens of music, most f amously through his collaborations (from his cult fall/winter 2003 collection to spring/summer 2018) with Peter Saville, whose album covers for Joy Division and New Order inspired him as a teen.“The whole existence besides school was built up around music,” he said in an interview with
032c magazine. Simons, too, is no stranger to song dedications. Just ask A$AP Rocky, whose song “Raf ”repeats the lyrics,“Please don’t touch my Raf ”, and sees Rocky donning multiple archival items from Simons’ past collections in the music video.
As Creative Director at Kanye West’s creative agency, Donda, Abloh earned a Grammy nomination for his art direction of Watch the Throne, West’s album with Jay-Z, in 2011. Now, on top of creating streetwear-meets-high fashion collections for Off-White and Louis Vuitton, and collaborating with brands from IKEA to Rimowa, Abloh has kept busy on the music front. In 2018 alone, he has performed at Lollapalooza as DJ Flat White; released his first official song,“Orvnge”, with Boys Noize; and launched an Apple Music Beats 1 radio show, recorded in the LouisVuitton atelier in Paris. ■
From top: Musicians from Beck to Justin Bieber and Joan Jett sitting front row at Hedi Slimane’s fall 2016 Saint Laurent show at the Palladium concert hall in Los Angeles. Lady Gaga with Donatella Versace. Hedi Slimane. Vivienne Westwood. Raf Simons. Virgil Abloh with Kanye West