The “romance” between artists and fashion designers, between music and fashion on grandiose shows

The "romance" between artists and fashion designers, between music and fashion on grandiose shows

From Madonna to Beyoncé, and then to Taylor Swift, over time, world tours have gradually become clear evidence of the relationship between music and fashion, especially with the world of haute couture.

The "romance" between artists and fashion designers, between music and fashion on grandiose shows
The “romance” between artists and fashion designers, between music and fashion on grandiose shows

There always exists a profound relationship between fashion and music. In this interrelationship, there is mutual influence. For example, many times music fashion brings fresh creative inspiration to designers. Or fashion becomes an important factor in music videos. And many designers, renowned brands become the main “sponsors” for appearances on the red carpet or performances on stage. With the collaboration of star images and personalities, designers have created “unique” designs in the fashion industry. Now, not only do dresses on the red carpet make headlines, but the “wardrobe” accompanying artists on world tours has become the most talked-about topic in the fashion world today. Even when attending any concert now, audiences not only enjoy quality performances but also feast their eyes on mini “haute couture shows”. Before Beyoncé stirred the world with meticulously invested appearances in the Renaissance World Tour or Taylor Swift brought moments of beauty to “explode” between fashion and music in the Eras Tour; the romantic relationship between artists and designers on stage has been formed for many years.

In the early to mid-20th century, when jazz, swing, and blues music began to thrive, singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Ruth Brown, and Nat King Cole, asserted their fashion image with timeless elegance (similar to the spirit of quiet luxury that is making waves today). Unlike the elaborate costumes we imagine, their performance costumes were not too flashy. This era is considered a miniature image of the seduction representing Old Hollywood. This is also why the stage appearances of artists at that time were always characterized by a noble, glamorous beauty without much breakthrough.

The context began to “shift” towards the end of the 20th century. Stars like David Bowie, Diana Ross, Elton John, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley were the “leaders” in this revolution – those who paved the way for “fashion shows” to appear in music tours like today. Their shows were not only meticulously staged, with grand stages, held at large venues, but they also opened up a new era for concert fashion – a completely different era from the gentle, elegant stage costumes the world had seen before. From Bowie or John’s daring outfits, to the dazzling appearances of Ross, Presley, Cher, or Jackson, couture fashion continuously spread its influence in a “new territory”.

To be responsible for the entire public appearance image of artists, designers must not only have excellent skills but also know how to use the language of fashion to interpret the artist’s personality cooperatively in the most authentic way. And the relationship between couture fashion and concert tours has brought forth a series of creative “geniuses”. From Kasai Yamamoto, Bill Whitten, Bill Belew, Michael Bush to Dennis Tompkins, they are all names behind the performance costumes of many famous artists. They transformed music tours into more stylish and fashionable events.

One designer who became famous in this field is the renowned costume designer Bob Mackie. He has worked with top stars like Ross, Cher, John, and Whitney Houston. Although his clients are all famous artists in music and entertainment, Bob Mackie is always recognized as one of the most talented designers like any other “god” in the mainstream fashion world. As the trend developed, concert fashion continued to thrive and grow stronger every day.

In the 80s and 90s, Madonna became the “spark” for haute couture play, and concerts became even more explosive. The legendary artist and designer Jean Paul Gaultie together created iconic performance costumes in the sophisticated fashion sense, from then until today. Her cone-shaped corset in the Blonde Ambition Tour is one of them.

Concert fashion in the 2000s revolved around sparkling designs, metallics, from cropped tops, low-waisted skirts, mini skirts, … Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, Spice Girls, and Gwen Stefani, … their performance costumes contributed to making the concert fashion scene at that time more vibrant than ever. However, in the 2000s, artists began to “abandon” high-performance designs, and started to prefer designs that, although glamorous and individually designed, had to be normal enough to wear offstage. Nevertheless, we also have some exceptions, notably “Mother Monster” – Lady Gaga. Throughout the 2010s, from music videos, event red carpets to stage performances, her outfits will never be forgotten in the world of fashion and music, and their boldness will never be “overtaken”. We will never forget the bubble dress designed by Hussein Chalayan that Lady Gaga wore on The Fame Ball tour in 2009; the human hair dress by Charlie le Mindu; transparent lingerie by Rachael Barrett in her 2010 Lollapalooza performance.

Similar to Lady Gaga, during her world tour “Renaissance”, Beyoncé constantly “stirred up” the fashion world with moments of fashion ecstasy. Instead of choosing one or two designers to accompany her throughout the tour, the superstar “dated” a variety of brands from top-notch fashion houses to emerging designers, such as Balmain, Ferragamo, Feben, Mugler, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Ivy Park, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Alexander McQueen, … and many more. Talented designers have turned the songs on the “Renaissance” album into extremely fashionable characters in real life. Those specially crafted designs not only revolve around a “power game” in the fashion world but also convey to the audience an interesting spirit of dressing, encouraging the Beyhive to create glamorous outfits for themselves when attending idol performances. Not only creating a couture fashion show with a “1-0-2” score on stage, Beyoncé and collaborating designers also contributed to creating an interesting fashion playground for tour attendees. In addition to Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour, Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour also brought unique fashion performances from high-end fashion houses – such as Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Alberta Ferretti, Oscar de la Renta, and Elie Saab.

The competition among designers to individually design costumes for their superstar clients during their tours is a way to reaffirm the position of haute couture, as well as create a new vision for the future of this luxurious world. If on traditional runways, today’s haute couture designs are often seen as “unattainable” with reality, but on stage, these meticulously crafted costumes will bring a very different feeling. Because of the talent of the artists and the impressive performances, the luxurious “wardrobe” in concerts becomes more approachable. Not only narrowing the gap between the audience and the exclusive world of haute couture, but these integrated music and fashion stage performances also spread the love of fashion to a younger audience. As the lyrics in Queen Bee’s song “Pure/Honey” – “It costs a billion dong to look this good,” yes, those “sky-high” dresses have and are creating a more brilliant era for concert fashion.

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