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NBGA No Basic Girls Allowed

7 Iconic Costumes from the Music Videos You Can’t Forget

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a music video in the age of digital consumption. We filter music into our lives as background noise through headphones to get from A to B, to then tangle the headphones away into an unfathomable knot, when arriving at the destination. The experience is almost two-dimensional, somewhat ironic in the face of technological advancements, with a progressive emphasis on multi-sensory experience. Music consumption sits a few steps behind, with little engagement and understanding into a song’s genesis, using only use one sensory method at a time. The hours of artistry that filter into the cameos of sartorial stories become overlooked by the fast-paced usage of media. Don’t just stop and listen, stop and watch.

Lady Gaga – Bad Romance 

The threshold of Gaga’s eccentricity will be forever remembered by her meat dress, or the entrance to the 2011 Grammy’s, hatching from a capsule shaped like an egg. But one of her most iconic, and often forgotten outfits was her heart-warming, tangible tribute to her designer-friend, Alexander McQueen. With the news of his death, Gaga became the parent of three pairs of armadillo heels from his crescendo collection “Plato’s Atlantis”. Her metallic, amphibian-esque attire showcased the creative genius of McQueen’s mind, defying the laws of physics, and a testimony to Gaga’s set of strong ankles. 

Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?

Educating women through her music, Gwen Stefani probably taught you how to spell bananas. For some, she encouraged you to read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as soon as you saw the video, What You Waiting For?. Charging the literary classic with kitschy, experimental undertones, Stefani’s influence stemmed from the street-style tribes of the Harajuku culture, an eclectic mix of American and Japanese culture in Shibuya, Japan. Her amalgamation of grandeur and eccentricity transpired into the costumes, with veiled white top-hats and corseted silk dresses. She transformed the novel’s dainty Alice into a raunchy fantasia, falling down a John Galliano rabbit hole that we long to pushed down. 

Rihanna – Pour it Up 

Dollar bills never looked so good. Clearly the songstress without the seamstress in this video, note her in a barely-there crafted denim thong, that once led a fruitful life as a pair of jeans, but thankfully she had tact and kept the pockets to fit her hefty pile of notes in. Flirting with Hollywood glamour, Rihanna works pinned peroxide curls and black satin gloves, fused with lashings of vintage jewelry from Gianni Versace’s Medusa emblems, to Chanel chain in adoration for the stripper-aesthetic. If in doubt, wig it out. 

Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much 

Shania Twain pioneers the metamorphosis for a woman to unleash the animal within. Festooned in a full-length leopard print costume, championing elegant but a provocative touch to her feminine ordeal, championing girl power, through the rejection of her ex-lovers (reincarnated as thank u, next – anthem). The record saturated stereos and charts, as did her perennial attire, captured by Marc Bouwer into the fashion industry. While she may be unimpressed by the unattractive attributes of her exes – shots at Elvis and Brad Pitt -everyone’s impressed by your leopard hood, Shania. Don’t feed us to the animals, feed us to you.   

Lily Allen – LDN

Lily Allen’s penchant for being outspoken doesn’t just come down to her words. Her outlandish ascension into the fashion industry began with her signature look, combining vintage prom dresses with battered Nike Air Max. Parading the gritty streets of London, the movement of Allen’s claret red prom dress and hooped earrings deconstructs a kaleidoscopic narrative of society, through “rose-tinted spectacles”. The couple kissing turn to the couple arguing; the pen on the floor morphs into a cigarette, the chewing gum to the injector. Against the backdrop of the dreary city concrete, her free-spirit speaks as loud as her jewelry collection, prancing through the streets of west London, with a collar of gold abundance, against the deprived metropolis.  Never has a music video felt more relevant thirteen years later. Keeping it real, Lil. 

Janelle Monáe – Pynk

A salute to the nether regions, Janelle Monáe debuted her pink-hued “Vagina Pants” last year for her panegyric video Pynk. Celebrating femininity and queer sexuality, the contentious trousers, designed by Duran Lantink paid homage to the shyness around sexual power and the beauty of the female body. Striking up a conversation, Monáe’s antagonistic testimony transforms legs into labia’s, sporting knickers that exclaim “I grab back” (@Trump) in hot-“pynk” lettering. Her light-hearted vagina monologue is a vivacious celebration of self-love. Sit patiently for the pussy power to hit retailers.

Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life 

Ruin My Life will ruin your bank account when you watch 21-year-old Zara Larsson totter around in petite feather mules and a canary yellow dressing gown, from Boudoir by D’lish. Think Satine from the Moulin Rouge with a hint of Cabaret and you’ve captured the Scandinavian singer at her superlative. Through her gripping romanticism of toxic relationships, she transitions into a holographic two-piece, casting a light on the heartbreak and confusion of unhealthy love. By the end of the video, she casts aside her yellow robe, it’s just a shame we weren’t there to pick it up and wear it. 

By: Scarlett Baker
Cover Photo still from Janelle Monáe Pynk