Getting It On, the Clothing of Rock 'n' Roll, by Mablen Jones (Abbeville Press: $27.50).
Mablen Jones, an artist and fashion historian, brings a hip mythologist's eye to her study of rock clothing as she enthusiastically analyzes the relationship between style and substance in the last 30 years of pop.
Jones opens with the observation that "rock 'n' roll stars look dangerous--they express the romance of recklessness and the spectacle of excess at its outermost limits of agony and ecstasy. Shining skintight satins and spandex, pimp-dapper sharkskin suits . . . garish makeup and tonsorial styling create libertine images that separate the modish from the mean, the simps from the wailing sirens."
Along the way, in this lavishly illustrated volume, readers learn how styles have shifted as stars' lives have evolved. Elvis, for instance, "had to trade in street clothes for sacramental glamour" as he moved from working-class hero to become the King of Rock. Michael Jackson's plastic surgery, writes Mablen, transformed his "formerly virile male black visage into one suggesting a white female model," at the same time his music was increasing its appeal to multiracial audiences.