Search “fashionable musicians” and all you get are lists of male rock stars. Like, duh Elton John and Prince are fashion icons, but there are so many rockstar ladies who deserve a shoutout. Thus, in honor of Female History Month, I’ve compiled a timeline of the most fashionable female musicians from the 1960s onwards. I only regret I couldn’t fit them all since there are way more fashionable female musicians than I have room to showcase!
Diana Ross is the Diva of divas. Born and raised in Detroit, Ross rose to fame as the singer of the best charting girl group in US history: The Supremes. Not one intimidated by big curls, big fur, and big jewels, Ross bedazzled audiences and helped define the style of Motown.
Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Joplin eventually moved to San Francisco where she joined psychedelic band Big Brother & the Holding Company as the frontwoman. She later embarked on a brief but impactful solo career cut short by a heroin overdose in a Hollywood hotel in 1970. With her long beaded necklaces, wild printed pants, and feathers and fur, Joplin was a leader in Haight-Ashbury hippie fashion trends which would evolve into modern-day bohomian style.
Sisters Veronica and Estelle Bennett, and cousin Nedra Talley composed The Ronnettes: one of the quintessential girl groups of the 1960s. They placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, were the only girl group to tour with the Beatles, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. With their signature matching dresses and beehive updos, they were also fashionistas whose 60s style glamour would later be emulated by artists like Amy Winehouse and Adele.
Stevie Nicks was born in Pheonix, Arizona, and began performing at just age four in her parent’s tavern. She performed in a few different groups before joining Fleetwood Mac, which soon after released the album Fleetwood Mac (1975) which skyrocketed to No.1 in the US, thus catapulting the band to fame. Her signature bohemian-meets-rock ‘n’ roll style with billowy shawls and long dresses earns her a solid place on the list of most fashionable female musicians.
Cher, aka “The Goddess of Pop,” topped billboards in the 1960s as half of the folk-rock duo Sonny & Cher. She later became a television personality in the 1970s with shows like The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, where she was known for rocking elaborate outfits. Her skin-bearing, Goddess-esque style went on to inspire many pop stars in the 2000s.
Debbie Harry was the vocalist of rock band Blondie, a pioneer in the early American new wave and punk scenes. Debbie Harry is gorgeous enough I’m sure anything would look great on her, but regardless she has great style. She’s especially known for her rocker chic look, which often features a fierce smokey-eye, over-the-knee boots, and denim.
Jamaican-born Grace Jones moved to New York at age 13 and began a modeling career that would bring her onto the covers of Elle and Vogue. In 1977 she signed to Island Records and became a star of New York City’s disco scene, later moving into a new wave sound in the 1980’s. Jones was a fearless fashionista, known for her androgynous style and bold bodysuits.
We all saw this coming. The original Material Girl has rocked both the music and fashion industries, spearheading many of the trends that became synonymous with 80s style. In addition to producing many of her chart-topping hits, she also has produced four fashion brands, one of which, Material Girl, is a collab between her and daughter Lourdes Ciccone Leon.
Lady Miss Kier
Lady Miss Kier, born Kieran Magenta Kirby, moved to New York City at age 19 to pursue fashion design. She briefly studied textile design at FIT, but soon met “Supa DJ Dmitry” whom she began experimenting writing music with. After joining forces with another DJ, Towa Tei, they formed the band Deee-Lite. Her wild 1960s-inspired style made her into a fashion icon who went on to influence everything from Jeremy Scott’s fall 2016 line to Essie’s nail polish color “Groove is in the Heart.”
I’ve been the biggest Selena fan ever since I watched the film inspired by her life starring Jennifer Lopez. Although her life was tragically cut short by a homicide, in her 23 years, her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers, earning her the title”the Queen of Tejano music.” Billboard magazine named her the top-selling Latin artist of the 1990s, while her posthumous collaboration with MAC cosmetics became the best-selling celebrity collection in cosmetics history. Her sexy, sparkly style has fans everywhere, including Kim K who dressed up as her for Halloween last year.
Björk first came to prominence as a vocalist for avant-pop sextet, the Sugarcubes. However, the Icelandic musician’s career really took off when she went solo. She rocked crazy outfits on the runway before Gaga did; the most iconic of which may be the swan dress, designed by Marjan Pejoski, which she wore to the 73rd Academy Awards.
Courtney Love is famous for a number of things: being the frontwoman of Hole, being the wife of Kurt Cobain, her various drug-related arrests… Her signature the-morning-after-Prom look is also well-known and has inspired numerous fashion companies, like Nasty Gal, who collaborated with her in 2016 on a Love, Courtney collection.
Rihana, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was discovered in her home country of Barbados by an American record producer. This led to her auditioning for Jay Z in New York City, signing with the label Def Jam, and you know the rest. Besides topping charts, Rihana has also made waves in the fashion industry, both as a street style favorite and as the creator of Fenty beauty.
Korean-born musician Karen O is the lead singer of the indie band the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. Her eccentric style, often complemented with her signature black bob and bright red lipstick, often resembles something you’d see at an art gallery. Most of her ostentatious outfits are designed by her friend, fashion designer Christian Joy.
Another no-brainer, Lady Gaga has shaken up both the music and fashion industries with her fearless and ever-evolving style and sound. From the red-lace number she wore to the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards to the meat dress she followed it up with the year after, Gaga has fashion reporters at the edge of their seats wondering what she’ll wear next.
All images via Pinterest.
Also published on Medium.