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Friday, August 8, 2008

When Fashion Met Music Videos: PJ Harvey

Dean Mayo Davies pays tribute...

Polly Jean Harvey—aka PJ Harvey—is, simply, one of the greatest female recording artists of our generation, and one of the best live acts you'll ever witness. Aesthetically, she keeps fans on their toes (and ears), but she's by no means a pop-chameleon who feels the need to reinvent herself every six months. That philosophy all too often implies a lack of authenticity, a resistance to commit to something wholeheartedly. Whatever PJ’s custom-made style, her essence remains the same—and that’s the difference. Here, in celebration of the diminutive diva (in stature, not stage presence), three YouTube moments...


1. This Is Love

In head-to-toe bespoke Todd Lynn—complete with ultra-long fringe—PJ keeps it simple in this video (from her "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" album of 2000). Pretty much all you see, besides her killer look, is a white room, a Fender Telecaster guitar and a confrontational declaration of euphoria from the lady herself. Come to think of it, maybe it's not so simple after all. Can you imagine anyone else making this work? As described on YouTube: "The best video ever."




2. The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore

Even in a bra and PVC miniskirt, Polly Jean owns the stage. While an outfit like this is charged with provocative connotation, she remains aloof to such unseemly thoughts throughout, adding even more intensity to the live performance at Reading Festival in 2004.




3. White Chalk (performed live on BBC’s Later with Jools Holland, 11/16/2007)

After having worn everything from pink Lycra catsuits in the mid '90s to two bootleg Spice Girls T-shirts sewn together as a mini-dress, PJ played her most recent shows in austere Edwardian monochrome gowns by Annie Mochnacz (in collaboration with director/photographer Maria Mochnacz and PJ herself). It's a look that goes hand-in-hand with the purist, almost folkloric nature of her new album, White Chalk.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

When Fashion Met Music Videos

Dean Mayo Davies on the perfect harmony...

Fashion and music have had a powerful, symbiotic relationship ever since the advent of the rebel in the 50s, when wannabe James Deans could throw on a white tee, leather jacket and immerse themselves in the newly created rock & roll lifestyle. Every subculture since—Teds, Mods—has forged itself from the meld of a unifying philosophy and a fabricated identity. After all, every army needs a uniform. In the 70s, Westwood, McLaren and the Sex Pistols collided in the ultimate blow-up of youth culture, and introduced (anti-)branding to the equation. Of course, today's tribes—bubblers, moshers, indie kids, ravers et al—have the music video, where their creations can remain as untouchable, intangible, beguiling, provocative and sexy as ever. And fashion labels haven't been slow to see the potential...


1. The Kills: Last Day Of Magic

This is the forthcoming release from the London-based, chain-smoking vegans VV (aka Alison Mosshart) and Hotel (aka Jamie Hince—yes, Mr. Kate Moss, in yet another link to fashion). Jamie has explained that the vengeful lyrics are about "being in a place and wanting someone who has abandoned you to be there." Thus, the setting, naturally, is Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Obsessives will note that Alison rocks her well-worn gold Dior Homme boots from fall/winter 05, which may or may not be the reason Jamie is fighting with her (who wouldn’t commit a little bodily harm for to get their hands on those?). In a brainy blur of leopard print, literature, black, scarves, art, tailoring and drainpipe jeans, the duo's myth is built with this video. The most alluring band in the world today, surely.




2. Róisín Murphy: Let Me Know

Róisín continues her persona as post-Saturday Night Fever street diva in this track from last year's Overpowered LP, strutting into a greasy-spoon cafe in a Margiela square-shouldered cape, Corto Moteldo bag and flying-saucer hat. The genius of Róisín's creative direction is the juxtaposition of a cartoonish surrealism with a more mundane daily existence, creating a tension that doesn't take itself too seriously. You'll remember her previous video featured her on the night bus wearing a Gareth Pugh foil coat with inflatable collar, while her latest video, Movie Star, is set to feature Richard Mortimer, of BoomBox fame, and performance artist Scottee.




3. Sonic Youth: Sugar Kane

Sonic Youth played at Marc Jacobs' fall 08 show, a true fashion moment for those who were there. They banged out Jams Run Free and Kool Thing, but it's not the first time these old friends have collaborated, not even close. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore posed in 2003 for a Juergen Teller-shot Marc Jacobs campaign, but way back in 1993 they set their Sugar Kane video in Marc's showroom, featuring his notorious Grunge collection for Perry Ellis, the stuff of fashion folklore. The clip also marks Chloë Sevigny's first appearance on film.

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