Fashion and music go hand in hand, and the flow of inspiration goes both ways. Musicians are dressed by designers who are in turn inspired by the stars of the stage… and sooner or later, the looks sported by pop and rock stars always make their way into mainstream fashion.

Diana Ross

Big hair, dramatic makeup, sparkling jewels, flamboyant dresses, glitter, sequins, feathers and tulle (lots of it) – the goddess of Motown practically wrote the diva playbook. After launching her career as the most Supreme of them all, she embarked on a fabulous solo career, perfecting her leading lady body language – including that essential diva skill: making us all feel unworthy of being in her presence.

[Photo: Harry Wad via Wikimedia Commons]

The Beatles

It all started with THAT haircut. Cute enough to drive young girls to hysteria, unconventional enough to shock their parents, the moptop style was considered long and accordingly rebellious at the time. Over the years, the band’s style changed with the times and set numerous trends. Their collarless suits, heeled boots, hippie tunics, John Lennon’s round glasses, and many more signature looks still resurface from time to time.

[Photo from Nationaal Archief via Wikimedia Commons]

David Bowie

The man who wowed the world with his daring looks and outrageous style from the moment he first set foot on a stage has been many things over the years: Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, a Berlin Hipster, a gender-bending glam rocker, a New Romantic clown – and presumably an Earthling all along (although sometimes we’re not quite sure).

[Photo: Hunter Desportes/Flickr]

Paul Weller

The man now revered as the Modfather started out at a time when looking sharp and belonging to a style tribe was essential for street cred. He has remained true to his Mod roots ever since. When the second wave of Britpop came around in the 1990s, its stars embraced him as their style icon. Approaching 60, Weller still oozes cool – and men of a certain age would do well to take his Style Council.

[Photo: Mark Kent/Flickr]


As a rule of thumb, if others are still imitating your looks 40 years later, you must be doing something right. Since the 2015 Met Ball, Cher can add Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce to a long list of flatterers-by-imitation. After all, the singer donned a spangly nude-look gown by Bob Mackie on the same red carpet way back in 1974.

[Photo: David Carroll via Wikimedia Commons]


The first rap group to reach gold sales also pioneered the now-ubiquitous habit of name-dropping in hip hop tracks. My Adidas was confirmation of their clearly visible love of the three stripes, and the brand were quick to tap into that marketing opportunity. An official endorsement catapulted the auspiciously named Superstar sneaker and Adidas tracksuits into the fashion spotlight – and launched urban streetwear as we know it.

[Photo: RickyPowell via Wikimedia Commons]


The Queen of Pop was certainly not the first artist to court controversy with her racy outfits, but she is the one who did so most often and most memorably. From sloppy fishnets with fingerless gloves to underwear as outerwear, couture dominatrix, blonde bombshell and gothic Lolita served with a side of blasphemy, Madonna has reinvented herself again and again – and keeps it interesting every time.

[Photo: Pascal Mannaerts via Wikimedia Commons]

Debbie Harry

The ultimate rock chick, Harry imbues any outfit she wears with effortless cool. Her style has been versatile and eclectic since Blondie’s early days in New York, when she would go from CBGBs-appropriate casual jeans and T-shirts to disco glamour for nights at Studio 54. The singer doesn’t consider herself fashion savvy, but she brings one essential ingredient to every outfit: attitude.

[Photo: Jean-Luc Ourlin/Flickr]

Spice Girls

It may be painful to admit, but nothing encapsulates ‘90s style more perfectly than a picture of the ultimate girl group at the height of their success. At least we can console ourselves with one thought: if Posh Spice managed to escape this dark chapter of her sartorial past unscathed, there’s hope for all of us.

[Photo: Melanie Laccohee via Wikimedia Commons]

Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain

On the other side of the ‘90s mood board, grunge reigned supreme – and its undisputed king and queen set trends that eschewed mainstream fashion. With their head-to-toe vintage outfits (before vintage was even a thing), like sloppy nighties with torn stockings on Courtney and lumberjack shirts with grandad cardigans on Kurt, the couple defined the grunge look.

[Photo: A Horse with No Name/Flickr]

Pharrell Williams

Yes, he’s a sharp dresser – and with N*E*R*D, Neptunes, as a solo artist and producer – a major music influencer. What really makes Pharrell a style icon is his savvy choice of collaborators. With his casual cool designs available from (among others) Billionaire Boys Club, Uniqlo, Adidas, G-Star and Moncler, anyone can dress like the music mogul.

[Photo: Shawn Ahmed via Wikimedia Commons]

Lady Gaga

Not a trendsetter in the true sense of the world (we can’t see meat dresses, Kermit the frog jackets or giant eggshells requiring porters coming into fashion any time soon), but Lady Gaga never stops pushing the boundaries of what’s considered wearable. Her main message to her adoring army of “Monsters”: be who you want to be, wear what you want to wear, and embrace individuality.

[Photo: loveyousave via Wikimedia Commons]

Florence Welch

Florence was already popping up on fashion radars before she had hit the charts big-time with the Machines. Of course, with her height, ivory skin and flaming locks, she looks striking no matter what she wears. Her favourite stage uniform of floaty, ethereal gowns – often quirky and/or vintage, but frequently made for her by major designers – turn her into an almost otherworldly creature.

[Photo: Kairi p via Wikimedia Commons]


Nothing Björk has ever done has been derivative or mainstream. From her groundbreaking music, visual art and film projects, right through to her outlandish fashion choices, the Icelandic songstress is avant-garde to the bone. Case in point: her most infamous outfit, THAT swan dress she wore on the Oscars red carpet.

[Photo: Cristiano Del Riccio via Wikimedia Commons]

John Lydon

Legend has it that the Johnny Rotten stage name was a reference to the state of his teeth, but a lackadaisical attitude to dental hygiene wasn’t the only thing that made Lydon an unlikely fashion icon. When the Sex Pistols burst onto the music scene with the irreverent God Save the Queen, their safety-pin-pierced ears, rainbow-coloured hair and shredded garments were as much a shock to the establishment as their music.

[Photo: Nationaal Archief via Wikimedia Commons]

Article by Fiona Brutscher

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