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wonders never cease Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, 2009 play list of the week: fashion's a stranger.

[caption id="attachment_1973" align="alignleft" width="460" caption="click to listen"]<a href=[/caption]We started a little list a few weeks ago, celebrating the real style of Washington, DC. To honor our nominees (and to inspire our judges), we've crafted a play list dedicated to style-setting performers. We can't speak to the musical merits of said artists, but we can all agree on their aesthetic creativity (and often, courage. We're looking at you, Lady Gaga.). Behold, music + fashion through the decades: The 1930s 1. "Besame Mucho" - Josephine Baker (1930) Born into poverty in St. Louis, Baker quickly rose to international fame for her incredible stage presence. She wasn’t known for her singing, but one can surely forgive musical flaws when the performer is dancing in a skirt made of bananas. Iconic style: sequins, feathers, fruit, African-inspired costumes, a pet cheetah. 2. "Cheek to Cheek" - Fred Astaire A class-act, through and through. Whether dancing, singing, or hamming it up with Gene or Bing, Astaire showed his generation what it means to be a gentleman. (And why every man should own a tuxedo.) Iconic style: top hats, canes, tuxedos, shined shoes, Ginger Rogers. The 1940s 3. "God Bless the Child" - Billie Holiday (1941) Holiday's tragic end does not belie the incredible contributions she made to music in the 20th century, including this sweet number, composed by Holiday herself. Her influence on chanteuse-fashion can't be ignored, either. Iconic style: evening gowns, pearls, gardenias, the blues. 4. "Night and Day" - Frank Sinatra (1942) Fred Astaire first performed this Cole Porter hit, but Sinatra's velvet vocals and signature phrasing make his recording the better-known. And no one can resist Ol' Blue Eyes. Iconic style: fedoras, tailored suits, pocket squares, gin. The 1950s 5. "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" - Marilyn Monroe (1953) If "icon" is defined as "one who is the object of great attention and devotion," then Monroe fits the bill precisely. Like a few others on this list, she is known more for her presence than her talent, but Norma Jean never disappointed her fans. Who else could make the Birthday Song sound so enticing? Iconic style: white dresses, red lipstick, blond hair, diamonds, opera gloves, a mole, air from a street vent. 6. "Blue Suede Shoes" - Elvis Presley (1956) True, Elvis may have inspired more replications of his body language than his fashion sense, but we couldn't resist adding a song dedicated to one article of clothing. After all, the rule to accessorizing is simplicity. Iconic style: coif, lip-curl, aforementioned shoes, Vegas leisure-wear, hips. The 1960s 7. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" - The Beatles (1963) With this little ditty, the Fab Four crashed onto U.S. charts (and into young girls' hearts). Attention to their changing style would follow suit in the years to come, but the '60s wouldn't have been complete without their mop-tops and matching suits. Iconic style: skinny ties, turtlenecks, tweed, signature haircuts, British accents. 8. "I'll Be Your Mirror" - The Velvet Underground with Nico on lead vocals (1967) Andy Warhol insisted that Nico be featured in three songs on The Velvet Underground's debut album, including this Nico-inspired track. The whole band worked the now-typical "rocker" look, but it was Nico's so-simple-it-was-dramatic style that stood out. (Her smoky vocals were pretty cool, too.) Iconic style: dramatic bangs, black clothing, coal-rimmed eyes, high cheekbones, cigarettes. The 1970s 9. Side A of Portfolio - Grace Jones (1977) Discussions of '70s style would be grossly incomplete without Grace Jones. A model-turned-disco-darling, Jones' inimitable style continues to excite fans and photogs alike. Iconic style: geometric hair, androgyny, nudity, body paint, icy glares. 10. "Fashion" - David Bowie (1980) Yes, this song is technically part of the '80s, but we couldn't resist pairing Bowie with Jones. We wanted his '70s Ziggy Stardust persona to make the list, but how could we resist adding a song so aptly-titled? Iconic style: glitter, face paint, metallics, drama, and now, Iman. The '80s 11. "Beat It" - Michael Jackson (1982) An international icon that was a creative force, both in music and appearance. We love the urban-meets-glam style of this video, and we will always remember that red jacket. Iconic style: a glove, sequins, military jackets, moonwalk. 12. "Material Girl" - Madonna Another style-maven of the '80s who taught us all the importance of having lace, pearls, wedding dresses, and rosaries in your wardrobe. (And don't you love the Marilyn Monroe tie-in from the "Material Girl" video? We're so clever.) Iconic style: items mentioned above, plus an enduring spirit of reinvention, yoga. The '90s 13. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana Oh, grunge. Seattle's imports guided the youth of America out of pop and into, well, grunge. Flannel may be back in style, but at least everyone's showering now. Iconic style: flannel, torn jeans, long hair, angst. 14. "Wannabe" - Spice Girls (1996) These spunky Brits inspired their fans to be sporty, ginger-y, posh, scary, or baby-like and created "girl-power"-inspired anthems that are still guilty pleasures on many an iPod. And their fashion-dynamic informs the style of girl-groups to this day. Iconic style: see the adjectives listed above, and add a good helping of pigtails and high-heels and hemlines. The '00s 15. "SexyBack" - Justin Timberlake (2006) So talented. So handsome. So stylish. We're so pleased he escaped the brightly-clothed look of *NSYNC and returned to his natural hair color. Iconic style:three-piece, metallic, skinny suits, porkpie hats, a 6-pack, a hand in the occasional wardrobe malfunction. 16. "Fashion" - Lady Gaga (2009) Whatever your opinion of Lady Gaga's talent, you cannot deny recognizing her, um, creative fashion sense. (Grace Coddington used her in this month's Vogue, after all.) What will she wear next? Bubbles? A falcon? Silly Putty? She might just have to be on the list for the '10s, if she keeps this up. Iconic style: We're not quite sure, but it definitely does not involve pants.
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