The world of music isn’t just about sounds, but sights too. Any good frontman knows that you’re going to need a slick tie to match that treble clef, a blazer than syncs with your beat, and ultimately an ensemble that engages his audience.
Here is “The Style of Music”, an illustration project about clothing styles of famous bands, designed by Glenn Michael of Moxy Creative House, and illustrated by James Alexander. Enjoy!
Andre 3000 is always pushing the boundaries of both hip-hop and style, on and off the stage. Like his constant boundary pushing reinterpretation of the hip-hop genre, his loud stage persona is an exaggerated extension of his own personal style routed through dapper English gentry with a twist.
As Oscar Wilde, the definitive Dandy once said, “One should either be a work of Art, or wear a work of Art”, and no question Andre 3000 consistently achieves both, giving us his gift for music, and his unique passion for fashion.
Count on a hat being thrown into the mix almost always. Whether a fedora, panama hat, derby, newsboy, trilby, safari, or bailey, nobody has mastered the art of headwear in quite the same way.
Is it possible that Bob Dylan had too much cool? Iconic in Ray Ban wayfarers, buttoned up elegance, with a disheveled mass of hair to top it off, Dylan has been seducing generations since his debut album with his poignant perspectives and laid-back elegance.
Dylan brings the poetic lyricism of his works to his style, incorporating bumpkin charm, sombre country cool, and slim cuts for a unique style that is continually copied today by men and women alike.
We embrace the skinny blazers, stovepipe jeans, striped shirts, fitted pea coats, striped scarves, and mod boots to mimic that Dylan cool, but will we ever achieve his iconic effortless edge? It never hurts to try.
Everybody needs to get off the back of ‘The Killers’ frontman, Brandon Flowers and his exaggerated stylings. There is definitely a strong style element that comes with the flamboyant singer who has gone through a fair share of wardrobe changes over the years that have included gold lame suits, sequins, feathered blazers, fringe, snake skinned track jackets, and let’s not forget, the introduction of “guyliner”.
The showiness of his looks should come as no surprise seeing as Mr. Flowers grew up in the city of glitter and gold, Las Vegas. On a deeper level, it’s all about the American Dream- “We were these poor kids and the whole idea of being a band was to put ourselves out there as this glamorous thing. Almost the opposite of the Strokes — these wealthy kids who are these dirty rock ‘n’ rollers. Instead of dirtying it up, it was about excess, overindulgence, and Gucci. It’s almost a hip-hop thing. Bling – that’s kinda what it was like.”
Chet Baker brought a cool West Coast restraint to the jazz scene in the 1950s, a refined ‘White Boy’ cool that defied the style of the time. His compelling and vulnerable voice was matched by the vulnerability he brought to expressing himself in his iconic white t-shirts. Having had only come into popularity in the early 50s, the t-shirt was still characterized as a state of undress.
Baker would help pioneer the t-shirt as a viable option in an everyday ensemble. More casual and relaxed than a button-up, his perfectly coiffed hair and pretty boy image would go a long way to pull off the look with moxie and style.
Despite this laid-back, clean-cut image, Baker’s personal life would be characterized by lengthy periods of drug abuse. Think of his simple, clean looks as truly putting yourself out there for who you are. Nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t be too quick to dismiss ‘The King’ because of the parodied versions of Elvis you’ve seen since his passing. Surely, no one can forget the more flamboyant styles of his later days, most notably his Aloha Eagle jumpsuit and cape. But, let’s not hold it against the guy, and remember his innovation and style savvy.
Credit the music guru as a true style pioneer, searching the fringes of fashion for elements that he eventually popularized for the mass market. It was a clever juxtaposition of Southern good boy and rock ‘n’ roll misfit that quickly thrust him into the role of American heartthrob. Pioneering sharp suits, pegged pants, and high collars, Elvis popularized rockabilly style, and added some much needed edge to conservative white America.
So before jumping to the Army looks, the black leather, and the Western gear, remember the legend for his fusion of the clean cut American Dream with the soul and flavor of the deep South, and that signature hip grinding rock ‘n’ roll edge he gave to men’s fashion.
Style came as naturally to Jimi Hendrix as his amazing ability to make six strings sing. Alongside the phenomenal sound he delivered with his guitar, Hendrix brought an equally electric take on 60′s fashion to the forefront of his image. Of course, there are the bell bottom jeans, afro, and the head bands, but don’t be fooled into pinning the guitar hero as your typical hippie artist.
Rather, his style was a sharp and glamorous elaboration of bohemian style. There’s the leather jackets, fringe details, popped collars, ruffled shirts, chunky jewelery, and his unforgettable collection of military inspired jackets.
Hendrix was a free spirit in his style, as much as he was in life, and proved that with the right attitude you can pull of just about anything.
Jim Morrison was living a balancing act between earth and an unknown spiritual realm that continuously influenced his music, life, and style. His style is a mix of easy breezy California cool, basement poetry readings, and an indigenous tribal edge.
Call it ‘Beatnik Shaman’. With his booming voice, and poetic lyrics, Jim Morrison quickly became a god of sexuality, with his iconic tight low rise leather pants, and slithering snake-like moves that enraptured a generation of men and women alike.
He was a man of extreme confidence in his art, but in terms of style, he approached it with a hung-over nonchalance that only a true rock star could pull off. Laid back, body conscious and a little rough and tumble, this rocker was a style icon that reinvented the rock aesthetic.
“The Man in Black” with a “broken soul with a heart of gold” would be how entire generations came to know Johnny Cash. Dressed in black suits and leather jackets, his sense of style was dominated by a brooding masculinity, one that never shied away from a subtle sense of melancholy and romance. Like a tortured poet searching for redemption, he was consistently dressed in mourning.
Johnny Cash was a stylish man, keeping it simple, and tailored to perfection. Cash didn’t need ripped jeans, or beat up leather jackets to communicate his rebel style. Instead, he highlighted his presence with a simplicity and refinement that could only come from a man who knew who he was.
Cash communicated his emotions freely and deeply from his heart, allowing the subtleties of his refinement to elevate his enigmatic persona.
It’s funny to think that industry heavyweights didn’t think Kanye West had enough street appeal to make it in the industry, because today Kanye West is pretty much the definition of street appeal. West brought the hip-hop world away from the gritty back streets to the red carpet, in a unique incarnation of prep-school style with more than a hint of swagger.
There’s a bit of ghetto fabulousness in the mix: lime green, pink, violet, electric blue are just some of the colors in his clothing palate, not to mention a huge array of chunky gold jewelery, and insane eyewear. Thank the icon for adding some much needed punch to classic luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, for whom the artist has done several collaborations.
“Dress like you’re coming from somewhere, and you’ve got some place to go” preaches the style guru, and it might just be us, but we’ll definitely be stealing a tip or two from this ultra-unique cultural visionary.
Amongst the glitter and glam of the 1970s, emerged a foursome of misfits we now know as KISS.
Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley were enraptured by the escapism and showmanship of the Glam scene, but aimed for something a step above it all. Donning Kabuki style makeup, and a series of exuberant costumes, their rock star persona’s were born. While the critics were not so impressed by their outlandish looks, Kiss’ captivating costumes and makeup brought rock ‘n’ roll to a whole new level of fantasy that played off every parent’s notion of rock n’ roll: sex, drugs, and of course, the devil.
Today we can have a laugh at the virtuosity of some of these get ups, but one has to admire the courage it takes to make your mark on the scene with your face painted like that.
“Come as you are” is what Kurt Cobain crooned, and the youth have been embracing the spirit ever since. A pioneer of the ‘Grunge’ movement in the Pacific Northwest, his collection of oversized vintage cardigans, graphic T’s, ripped jeans, and Chuck Taylor’s would revolutionize fashion, music, and pop culture forever.
Ironically, the last thing Cobain had on his mind was becoming a trendsetter, since the grunge movement really began as retaliation against the main stream in support of uniqueness and defying convention. In the world of rock ‘n’ roll today, Grunge is the convention. Today Hipsters everywhere sport torn jeans, t-shirts, flannel, and nerd glasses in an attempt to solidify their cool.
He may not have had the life he imagined, but in making the outcast king, he gave new life to the millions of youth his music would influence.
Marvin Gaye had style in spades. Smooth and genuine, much like his music, Gaye ‘s style was an evolution in the same way as his iconic music was. Throughout Motown’s heyday, find Gaye in the smartest tailored suits of the time. His style was a mix of color, texture, and like any fine sartorialist, fit.
Dapper and refined with some signature funk, his styling was sleek and dignified. Throughout the 70′s and 80′s, Marvin transitioned to a much more casual approach to dress, always staying stylish, elegant, and masculine through sporting toques, denim shirts, and plain T’s.
Michael Jackson knew what it was to be a star. In fact, he knew what it was to be a King, and in some cases, and to some fans, a God. He definitely took every liberty in expressing himself in that way, giving us unforgettable looks time and time again. Who can forget the black loafers, rhinestone glove, red leather jacket, and of course that Jheri curl?
Everyone likes to tease, but before he was subject to all the harsh criticism of the media, there probably weren’t that many people who didn’t want to be even a fraction of what Michael Jackson was. Never an imitator, Jackson always went for the drama and sexy cool that being the biggest Pop star in the world affords.
Love him, or hate him, Michael Jackson will forever be remembered for his music, and the weird and wonderful world he created with his style.
George Frazier of Esquire Magazine once wrote of jazz pioneer Miles Davis, “thank God for the existence of people like Miles Davis: Except, of course, that there are no people like Miles Davis. He is an original. He is a truly well-dressed man.”
As a stylistic innovator in Jazz, his ever changing styles in music were consistent with his wardrobe. Whether playing it conservative in a Brooks Brothers suit or exuding European refinement with slim cut French silhouettes, Davis always gave his distinct spin, playing up a sophistication in tune with his own signature funk.
By the 70’s both his music and style had reached an eclectic avant-garde edge. Like a true artist, Davis always strived for innovation, evolution, and relevance in everything he did.
You might not trust Mr. Doherty with many things, given his track record, but trust his ability to put a unique spin on British fashion, bringing the Dandy to a whole new level of grime and dishevelment.
Doherty definitely has some fashion street cred, with multiple collections by Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme inspired by the infamous rock star, and not to mention shacking up with Kate Moss. If that doesn’t do it for you, look for Doherty on the street in some genius fusions of style that give a new attitude to accessories like derby hats, scarves, and beads.
Sadly, Doherty’s reputation as a junkie might forever eclipse his place in the style hall of fame, no matter how much he knew about putting together a great look.
Pharrell Williams has to be one of the coolest guys in the world. There’s just no debate. As a performer, producer, and most recently designer, the style star impresses with his effortless ability to play it cool. His secret? His style isn’t really one way or the other. It moves with the fluidity Mr. Williams needs to suit his lifestyle.
Find him relaxed in a hoody, graphic T, and jeans, with a unique flash only Pharrell could bring, never falling into the mold of the prototypical rap star uniform. Dressing up, find him polished in a velvet blazer, bow tie, and horn rimmed glasses. Pharrell creates an allure, never adhering rigidly to a single influence, consistently changing it up, and always keeping it individual.
Take a style tip: stay unique to yourself, and embrace a sense of style that gives you the freedom to be yourself in all your forms. Clean and polished, intriguing and evolved, this is why Pharell turns so many heads.
You just have to love Prince for all that he is, and all that he brings to the table both musically, and stylistically. In music, he brings technical prowess and an infamous perfectionism. To style, he brings a dapper, eclectic vision of Pop stardom.
While it might all be a little out of this world, definitely give the man credit for knowing the importance of a well fitted blazer. Year after year, spot at least one fantastically fitted blazer that, no matter the outlandish color or out of control embellishment, always manages to fit the man like a dream. Prince knows no matter what you’re wearing, if the fit is good, you’re in the money.
Bringing hip hop to the mainstream was no easy feat, but this trio managed to combine gold chains, track suits, and shell-toes into a look that seamlessly translated a musical genre to the masses for the first time. Almost everything synonymous with the early image of a hip-hop artist can be linked back to Run DMC.
Bringing the underground to the surface, Run DMC not only reinvented popular music, but gave the style of the streets a new voice in the market, and established sportswear as a solid foundation for any wardrobe.
The Beatles represent a true anomaly in the world of music and style because of the very fact that they remain influential some 6 decades after their having emerged on the world stage.
Their shaggy hair and smart styling created a revolutionary new look that took the world by storm. The Beatles would became the staple of minimalist Mod London in the sixties, but like their music, the band’s style went on to influence countless artists and everymen.
The Beatles remain classic with their timeless music, and the riff-raff rock edge they brought to classic British styles and tailoring.
You’d think that everyone would have to be over the ironic logo T-shirts of The Ramones, but on any given day if you look hard enough, expect to see someone sporting the iconic band’s mock-presidential seal.
What’s the secret to their longevity? The band never managed to crack into the Billboard Top 100, and their highest charting album peaked at No. 44 in the U.S., so it’s somewhat remarkable that these punk rockers have made such an impact.
The looks were All-American but dirty, roughed up by the street, ready to rock. Their music was as simple as their style, but the Ramones knew all they needed was the right attitude to pull it off.