From Stage to Runway: Music’s Most Fashion-Forward Superstars

In a 1976 interview, David Bowie said, “IF YOU TRULY want to amuse an audience, you have to look the part.” And the visual aspect of music has had just as much of an influence as the auditory aspect, from the Beatles’ moptops to the Ramones’ leather jackets to Run-Adidas. DMC’s This has never been more true than it is right now when trendsetters like Beyoncé, A$AP Rocky, and Doja Cat have the power to rapidly change the zeitgeist by creating big viral moments.

As a result, fashion has emerged as one of music’s fastest-growing revenue streams. This can be attributed to artists striking large-scale partnerships with well-known companies (like BTS did when they signed on to serve as Louis Vuitton’s ambassadors) or disrupting the fashion industry with their own avant-garde collections (like Rihanna’s Fenty and Kanye West’s Yeezy).


Music's most stylish superstars

As Grimes grew up in the 1990s, she incorporated elements of rave, grunge, and goth into her vibrant aesthetic. Nonetheless, the singer’s appearance is wholly contemporary and not at all recycled. The Iris van Herpen outfit she wore to the 2021 Met Gala, which came replete with a metallic face mask and a sword created from a melted assault weapon, is a good example.

Grimes is utilizing fashion as a means of making a statement as well as telling stories, drawing inspiration from the sci-fi classic Dune. Grimes isn’t just pretending to be someone else, as her stylist, Turner said to The New York Times, “She’s a portrayal of a woman that is powerful.”

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Music's most stylish superstars

Kai, the gorgeous, pouty-faced singer, rapper, and dancer from the groups Exo and SuperM, is one of the few K-pop singers who is adored by fashion designers all over the world. With a sartorial swagger that is simultaneously slick and coy, Kai’s style ranges from preppy to punk, and he masterfully fuses fashion inspirations (and accessories!) with musical genres.

His sex symbol position was solidified by the revealing crop top he wore in Exo’s “Obsession” music video. Also, he appeared in promotional photos for his most recent EP, Peaches, wearing anything from casual denim to hanbok-inspired attire. In a recent interview, he claimed, “I walk about choosing outfits myself.” “The concept is the most crucial element. We need to decide if we want to play it safe or accept a challenge. With Gucci naming Kai as its first-ever global ambassador from Korea, brands are starting to take note as well.


Music's most stylish superstars

These Italian rockers burst onto the scene in 2021 by reviving the original Bowie-Queen swagger, reaching the top of the U.S. pop charts in the process. They were covered in a swirl of BDSM harnesses, thick black eyeliner, fitted suits, and a shit-ton of flesh. Mneskin emerged in the middle of the 2010s, with a very traditional emo-punk aesthetic.

They connected with Italian stylist Nicol Cerioi, who helped them increase their glam factor, which led to Mneskin winning the 2021 Eurovision song contest while dressed in special Etro leather suits, and that is when things started to shift. Bassist Victoria De Angelis told Women’s Wear Daily in May 2021, “Fundamentally we strive to have fun experimenting with styles, without setting restrictions but just wearing what we enjoy.


Music's most stylish superstars

In her “Whip My Hair” video from when she was nine years old, Willow Smith established herself as a fashion outlaw. She wore a spiky blue vest and multiple rainbow-colored hairstyles. She said to Pharrell Williams in Interview in 2016 that she and Jaden “would wear the weirdest stuff” when they were youngsters. Her style has since maintained the same free-spiritedness as her music.

Last year’s Recently I Feel Everything, which saw her swing towards pop-punk, also had an influence on her stage attire, as shown in the hot-pink dress and black combat boots she wore during her appearance at the Life Is Beautiful festival. She also changed her appearance in real time in 2021 by shaving her head in front of the camera while she sang (what else?) “Whip My Hair.” At a Rolling Stone Musicians on Musicians interview last year, the singer said to coworker Travis Barker, “Honestly, singing with a shaved head is the freest feeling.

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Rina Sawayama

Music's most stylish superstars

Rina Sawayama’s original style has been characterized by an avant-garde approach, offering feminine shapes with added bite. Her innovative sound is equally influenced by early 2000s pop and nu-metal. The British Japanese rule-breaker has embraced aspects of grandiose fantasy in her outfits since making her debut a few years ago, such as the tulle-frenzied violet Balmain gown she wore at the Brit Awards last spring.

She told Gay Times, “I draw a lot of inspiration from Instagram and the archives of 1990s to 2000s fashion. “I love changing it up because the wardrobe idea truly gives the job of a character onstage — it allows me to reinterpret the song or performance in many different ways without having to modify anything about the music,” says the performer.


Music's most stylish superstars

Rosala’s music videos offer a brief glimpse into her varied, thought-provoking, and fusion of traditional and modern influences and personal aesthetics. In “Auto Culture,” she poses wearing a furry Didu coat and Mordekai bespoke nails, and she emphasizes her brief “WAP” cameo with red latex. She is eager to display items like Balmain, Gaultier, and Givenchy alongside oversized cartoon T-shirts and casual sportswear for her 18 million Instagram followers.

I don’t really believe in seeking a middle ground. She cited the streetwear company Skoot, the fusionists at Palomo Spain, and the avant-garde goth king Rick Owens, who dressed her for the 2021 Met Gala, in a Vogue interview from a year ago when she declared, “I enjoy extremes. “It has to do with how you feel when you see something.
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Dua Lipa

Music's most stylish superstars

Dua Lipa rose to fame in 2020 (as seen by the six Grammy nominations she received for her disco-themed album Future Nostalgia), but it wasn’t until 2021 that the singer truly came into her own as a rising style sensation. Lipa is a fashion chameleon who coolly straddles the border between streetwear and high street without skipping a beat, from teaming with Puma to being the face of Versace.

It’s kind of like music, she said to Refinery29 in 2018. “You can’t force fashion,” The singer opened the Milan Versace spring-summer 2021 show in a barely-there magenta gown before walking the catwalk in a black skirt suit. “You are as much a star on the runway as you are on stage,” Donatella Versace commented to Lipa on Instagram after the event.

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Harry Styles

Music's most stylish superstars

In 2020, Harry Styles said to Vogue, “Clothes are there to have fun with, experiment with, and play with. “When you remove the phrase “There are clothing for men and there are clothes for women,” obviously you widen the field of play.” In the gender-fluid tradition of the idols of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly David Bowie and Prince, the former member of One Direction turned solo superstar and Gucci muse has emerged as a new-school fashion icon.

Styles has given menswear a seductive, disco-leaning twist with the help of his longtime stylist Harry Lambert, frequently prompting his admirers to attend his performances wearing boas, flared pants, and vibrant, psychedelic hues. Lambert recently stated, “I think any time fashion starts a debate, that’s fantastic,” in reference to his collaboration with Styles.


Music's most stylish superstars

BTS’s popularity has inspired other artists to improve the quality of their live performances, but the group has also raised the bar for concert dresses by making them more fashionable. Few other musicians have advanced menswear as much, mostly due to their notion of masculinity, which covers anything from baggy suits to blinged-out matador jackets and sparkly blouses when on tour. BTS has always embraced fashion with the same intrepid spirit as its music, challenging gender roles one leather corset at a time. BTS was referred to as “one of the most powerful groups in the world” when Louis Vuitton named them as ambassadors last spring.

Cardi B

Music's most stylish superstars

Cardi B’s sense of style is just as unapologetically daring as her raps. Her ability to effortlessly combine prized Chanel items with tacky Fashion Nova pieces sets her apart from other fashionistas. Cardi made Mugler bodysuits fashionable in the “WAP” video a year after wearing one while attending the Met Gala in a blanket intended to resemble a quilted vagina.

Her go-to stylist Kollin Carter recently remarked, “If I could characterize her style, I would say drama,” to Women’s Wear Daily. Several of the rapper’s riskiest and craziest ensembles have been created by Carter, but they always succeed because Cardi is completely in charge of her image and wears each new item with a believable appeal. She famously remarked, “Elegance always wins.