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Chic Tweak : George Michael's 'Killer' Clip Takes Shot at Crass Overmarketing of Street-Smart Styles

VIDEO VOGUE: Video Vogue is an occasional series of articles assessing the fashion impact of music videos.

June 04, 1993|MAUREEN SAJBEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

George Michael's new video "Killer/Papa Was a Rolling Stone" is such a perfect example of 1993's melange of rave/grunge/hip-hop and thrift fashion, it could be put in a time capsule.

The video is a satiric look at how street fashions have been marketed to death. As kids dance and ride the subways--in crochet vests, flag shirts, lace bell bottoms, knit caps, knotted hair and painful-looking pierced lips and noses--the words to the song become household product ad logos that float through the sky. Andy Warhol would have been proud.

Runway to Unreality: Madonna's "Fever" video uses items right from the fashion runway for fantasy effects. "It all started with a box of clothes sent by Jean-Paul Gaultier. It was going to be ethereal," says stylist Victoria Bartlett. "Madonna also wanted a Joan of Arc heroine's image."

Both looks stayed. Gaultier's contribution includes the completely sheer green "angel" dress with tattered "wing" sleeves. It passed the censors because Bartlett added a floral arrangement at the bikini line and a Gaultier flowered enamel bra. Also from Gaultier: the jeweled Eastern goddess bra.

Vivienne Westwood made the gold leather top with the tufted skirt and a pink corset top Madonna wears in a scene where special effect flames are projected on her lower body. The red lace-up cotton sateen top was plucked from Patricia Field, New York's funky East Village shop, and Michael Schmidt did the silver metal mesh dress.

Red Heads: Madonna's "Fever" hairdo is a strawberry blond bob with bangs. The flame-colored Peter Pan do she wears in the video is a wig--in line with the Technicolor hair trend in rock and roll videos right now.

Others have dyed recently: Perry Farrell, formerly of Jane's Addiction and now of Porno for Pyros, has a bright strawberry skullcap, with sideburns, in the video "Pets." Stone Temple Pilots' lead singer Weiland wears a Luke-Perry-from-Hell hairdo dyed a nuclear-accident orange for "Plush."

Ruffles Make Ripples: In current videos, it's the guys who get the ruffles. Duran Duran's bass guitarist John Taylor says the romantic thread that runs through his wardrobe for "Come Undone" reflects band members' flirting with the image of the early English punk rockers. Taylor says his white ruffled Vivienne Westwood shirt has a "great Gothic, English romantic thing to it."

In "2,000 Light-Years From Home," a psychedelic remake of the Rolling Stone's 1960s song, it's again the guy, not the girl, who gets the flourishes, and the reason is again rooted in rock history.

"It's my homage to Brian Jones, the Rolling Stone who died," says the single-named Roderick, who, with his wife, Anisa Romero, sings lead vocals for the alternative band Sky Cries Mary. "Brian Jones was the first one to have style. He was wearing women's blouses and makeup before any of those guys were hip to the idea."

The Long View: If you have any doubt about the popularity of longer skirts and dresses, just take a look at the "I Don't Wanna Fight" video. In it, The Queen of Legs, Tina Turner, covers up in the name of fashion. When she's not in thrift shop jeans, she's wearing a sleek, long black knit dress with a hemline that hides her famous gams. She got a selection of long black dresses for the video, by Claude Montana, Matsuda and other top designers, at the Maxfield boutique.

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