If it were in couples’ counselling, the relationship between fashion and music would be rightly diagnosed as best placed to break up. Compulsively narcissistic, hopelessly co-dependent, and frequently in-bred, this is one long-term partnership that shouldn’t work, but just can’t help it. It’s the inevitable marriage of the model and the rockstar: the hot musician will always find his genetically-blessed plus-one, and it will always be tough to tell whose payoff-by-association is greater. So we really should stop arguing about whose idea was whose in the first place (did Jean-Paul Gaultier make Madonna, or was it the other way around?), start the healing, and join in on the style/sound love-in.
After all, the velvet rope that separates the two has all but disintegrated. With Cat Power showing up to play Karl Lagerfeld’s S/S ’07 Chanel catwalk, and Sonic Youth rocking out on Marc Jacobs’ A/W ’08 runway, music and fashion have never been quite so up-close and personal. Aside from the obvious motivations of free clothes on one side, and publicity on both, there’s a very good reason for designers’ direct collaborations with musicians, and it’s back to the counselling psycho-babble: it’s all about feelings, baby.
Speak to any designer worth their salt, and they’ll explain their conceptual underpinnings within a monologue that is at some point likely to include the words: ‘vibe’, ‘air’, ‘atmosphere’, or, for the bold, ‘aura’. Like musicians, designers are storytellers; and stories are tricksy, slippery little things that need to be anchored with definite, reinforcing bulldog clips from the outside world. Whilst writers may use overblown metaphors to accomplish this feat (see previous sentence for details), at their headline shows – their catwalk collections – designers use music.
Music can be pivotal for designers’ audiences to ‘get’ the feel of their collections, providing clues about their influences, their inspirations, and nailing down that elusive ‘vibe’. The right sound is so crucial to mood construction that designers routinely hire DJs to create tailored mixes to work as sound illustration. Or they hire Cat Power.
It is for all these reasons that you’ll find, should you turn just one page to your right, a helpful playlist attached to this month’s shoot. In order for you to securely catch the particular vibe we’re throwing out, each Skinny shoot will come accompanied by Shoot Sounds, a little aural compass, all the better for feeling with. Look, listen, and feel it out – we’ve made you a mix tape because we love you.