While FKA twigs writes pop songs which evoke the zeitgeist and with it, all of the feels Generation Y has right now, just casually, she's arguably become the phenomenon that she has (although R-Patts might be helping with that rn) – and can commandeer the zeitgeist in the way she does – because she utilises multidisciplinary creative tactics, including but not limited to her insane flexibility, to deliver the messages in her music.
One of these methods is the way she dresses. Firstly, everything she wears is cool as shit. But secondly, and more importantly, there's meaning behind a lot of what she wears and how she accessorizes, be it in the designers she chooses and what they stand for, the societal references of a particular print, or the ethnic references of, for example, her septum rings and hand-jewellery. She has worked closely with London stylist Karen Clarkson since the beginning of her career (as she did for our exclusive shoot with FKA twigs last year), and by now the pair innately understand what will work, why it will work, and, most importantly, what it will communicate.
FKA twigs certainly isn't the first pop star to use the way she dresses to communicate messages. I've just finished reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, and am therefore v. buoyed by the breaking news she will release a new book, and am getting v. v. excited about her rendition of Horses at Primavera Sound, which I'm going to – jealous, much? Her style, most famously represented by Robert Mapplethorpe's Polaroid portrait of her for Horses' album cover, is inspired by her poetic heroes, particularly Arthur Rimbaud, which runs alongside the subject matter of that album, which is about A) the tragedy of the creative condition of the '60s (you know, the fact that everyone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix et al. were dying around her (Smith's early years in New York were tough)), and B) Being a woman in a man's world. If she didn't make the pant-suit appropriate attire for working women, I don't know who did. Similarly, where would Madonna, or for that matter, we, be, without Jean Paul Gaultier's conical bra and everything it represented? Or the oversize, grey suit David Byrne wore for Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense performance series?
At their most mundane, fashion moments, or movements, in music influence Fast Fashion trends twenty years after their inception (oh hai Grunge). At their most profound, they make us think, and those thoughts change society.
All of which is to say FKA twigs' live performances are all the more provocative because of the outfits she chooses to wear. Most musicians use lighting, their set lists and maybe some background visuals to set the mood, and FKA twigs does all of this, while you know, adding elaborate dances with specifically-curated scarves into the mix. FKA twigs wouldn't be the inimitable, dominating, Queen artist she is today without her on-stage wardrobe outfits, and we wouldn't be so universally *moved* by her without her killer wardrobe, either. Here are my five favourite outfits FKA twigs has worn for live performances, and a little background which may explain why she chose to wear them, and why they matter.
1) Coachella 2015
FKA twigs chose to wear an embellished, oversize gown by KTZ for her Coachella performance this year. KTZ is an English streetwear label, designed by Marjan Pejoski, which is known for imbuing their pieces with "ethnographic references and multiculturalism". Considering the stormy race climate in the States right now, and the propensity for festival goers to racially appropriate slash be blatantly offensive, could FKA twigs be delivering, for lack of a better phrase, a message of diversity to the masses at the festival? It worked at Woodstock.
2) Alexander McQueen's exhibition opening gala dinner, at the V&A museum
FKA twigs wearing Alexander McQueen's Bird of Paradise-inspired dress to the gala dinner celebrating the opening of his retrospective exhibition, Savage Beauty, is one of those definitive Moments, like Katharine Hamnett meeting Margaret Thatcher in 1983, wearing at slogan t-shirt emblazoned with 58% Don't Want Fracking, that we'll revere in decades to come as a Moment. In this Moment we have the current generation of socially and politically motivated creatives in England paying homage to one of the most important socially and politically motivated creatives in England – a kind of wonderfully technicolour passing of the torch.
3) The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
And into the fold come the aforementioned scarves, and, of no less importance, a Marina Hoermanseder breast plate. This Viennese designer completed an internship with none other than Alexander McQueen before launching her eponymous label, which takes inspiration from sex fetish items and 18th century orthopedic corsets. Together, these references speak to the simultaneous freedom and constraints enjoyed and faced by women in 2015.
4) Laneway Festival Australia 2015
FKA twigs fully embraced the body-con style she has been flirting with since forever, in her performances while on the Laneway Festival circuit in Australia and New Zealand. A bunch of FKA twigs' corsetry is designed and made by New York based designer, Yeha Leung, under the label Creepyyeha. Creepyyeha has also been worn by the likes of Jehnny Beth from UK post punk band Savages, and the label basically goes out of its way to dress the bad ass bitches of music and, through that, empower the rest of us.
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