In 2013, music and fashion were like two people dating, who had great chemistry but understood nothing about each other. At the punk-themed MET ball, no one really “got” punk. The event was a reminder that the politics of music can easily get lost in its aesthetic. Kanye West also reinforced that message, scolding people for buying into luxury goods on “New Slaves” as he paraded around with career materialist Kim Kardashian on his arm and left his creative post at Nike for a $10-million deal with Adidas (which, he admitted, was very much about the money).
Still, it seemed as though musicians engaged more with fashion than in recent years. Rather than tote each other around as badges of success, the two worlds were in conversation. Migos and Versace had a mutually beneficial relationship: as the the Atlanta rap group propped up the fashion house, the brand in turn helped give them careers and used their ode “Versace” on the runway. In some cases, the relationship between musicians and artists grew beyond sponsorship and obligation. In Kanye’s post-kilt wake, more rappers than ever were in tune with emerging designers like Hood By Air and cult favorites like Ann Demeulemeester, named-checked by “Fashion Killa" A$AP Rocky. Rappers also experimented with bold, androgynous “fuccboi” looks. From Paris to Kmart, here are 23 important moments where music and fashion met in 2013.
Kanye vs. the fashion industry
Kanye started out the year in a straitjacket and Yeti mask. It was a good indication of how the rest of 2013 would play out for him: the more he pushed to make people understand his avant aspirations (see his interactions with Zane Lowe, Sway and Jimmy Kimmel), the crazier he was made out to be. The rap world told him you’re too far out and the fashion industry said you’re not commercial enough. Case in point: the now-ubiquitous leather jogging pant that Ye tried to bring to Fendi six years ago. (The art world, meanwhile, was more accepting.)
So Kanye’s year, despite a critically-acclaimed album, may be best remembered for his public monologues. He’d fly off the handle at everyone from Louis Vuitton to Zappos, Vogue, Barneys New York, Nike, and even worked those rants into each night of his Yeezus tour. One of the frequent targets of his scorn was Hedi Slimane, who inspired “I Am A God” after the Saint Laurent head tried to restrict what Paris Fashion Week shows the rapper attended.
When Kanye collaborated with the fashion world he was also cantankerous: he abruptly severed ties with Nike after a successful run of the Air Yeezy—they refused to release the second, the Red Octobers, a pair of red sneakers that he paired with his custom Maison Martin Margiela wardrobe on tour—and was allegedly difficult to work with at A.P.C., where he created a wildly overpriced capsule collection of basics. But, there’s hope for Ye yet. A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou recently revealed that their next collaboration is in the works and Kanye is already working on a full line for Adidas which will drop next September.
Beyoncé models for H&M, recruits revered models for visual album
Unlike her husband, Beyoncé’s fashion endeavor was highly cop-able. While modeling for fast-fashion giant H&M, Bey debuted a new song "Standing on the Sun" in a video directed by Jonas Åkerlund, who worked on two of the singer’s videos for her self-titled fifth album. Bey also worked with Supreme co-head Ricky Saiz on the most fashionable clip of her visual LP, “Yoncé,” which nodded to the era of supermodels with its back shots of Beyoncé and models Joan Smalls, Jordan Dunn, Shaun Ross and Chanel Iman.
Versace regains its music cred
Thanks to Drake’s remix of "Versace" by Migos—whose members are barely old enough to remember Gianni Versace’s heyday—the baroque-loving fashion house was emblazoned into the fiber of 2013. On a smaller scale, Versace made a comeback on the music world’s red carpet, outfitting Grimes and 2 Chainz for the VMAs (in matching outfits, no less). The house also made R. Kelly look like a Tumblr-style star with a fuccboi look for the AMAs and Saturday Night Live, and dressed his SNL duet partner Lady Gaga countless times while making her the face of their most recent campaign. On the road, Versace created tour wardrobes for Grimes and Angel Haze, and teamed with M.I.A. for a very meta capsule collection worn by her on-stage crew. Coincidentally or not, Versace’s return dovetailed with the trendy logomania shown on the runways for spring—so don’t expect to see its reign end anytime soon.
Rihanna collaborates with River Island and M.A.C., debuts Styled to Rock TV show and causes controversy with #ghettogoth style
Rihanna was the subject of more fashion headlines than ever this year. In addition to about a million paparazzi photos where she showed off the best runway styles on the planet, she unveiled her first collection for UK clothing line River Island to big success—and gradually improved the line each season, with help from her stylist Adam Selman (who also made his Fashion Week debut this year). Meanwhile, the singer worked with M.A.C. on four makeup collections that sold predictably well, despite one woman’s alleged contraction of herpes from one of the lipsticks. Riri also unveiled a Project Runway-inspired reality show dubbed Styled to Rock, where contestants competed with music-inspired designs while being mentored by Pharrell Williams and others. Then there was Ri’s second major cultural appropriation scandal (the first being her seapunk SNL performance), when she tagged her new dark look on Instagram with #ghettogoth, a hashtag that was derived from the GHE20 GOTH1K movement in NYC started by DJ Venus X and Hood By Air’s Shayne Olivier.
DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith walks in Saint Laurent show, stars in campaign
DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith walked the runway at Saint Laurent’s menswear show, after starring in their campaign alongside fellow musicians Ariel Pink, Kim Gordon, Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love, and Beck.
Sky Ferreira books scads of modeling gigs
Smith’s girlfriend Sky Ferreira, who also models to fund her music, landed several high profile gigs this year: she starred in Saint Laurent’s pre-fall ‘13 lookbook and Maison Kitsuné’s spring ‘14 lookbook. She'll also be the next face of Redken and walked the runway at Marc Jacobs’ spring ‘14 show.
Drake collaborates with Nike, gets outfitted by Calvin Klein, opens pop-ups
A mere week after Kanye’s departure, Drake designed his debut shoes, the OVO Jordans. His other stylish endeavors this year included teaming up with Calvin Klein for a custom wardrobe on his Would You Like a Tour? and opening pop-up stores across North America to sell and give away promotional gear.
Solange collaborates with PUMA
Blinked and you might have missed it: In the 2013 video for Solange’s “Lovers in the Parking Lot,” taken from last year’s True EP, the singer danced in bright PUMAs. It was an omen of things to come—recently, it was announced that Solange art-directed a campaign for the sneaker company and collaborated with them on a capsule collection, due out next February. In addition, she just killed every red carpet this year with really bold, fashion-forward outfits.
Lil B inspires a fashion collection
For her senior thesis, Parsons student Isabel Simpson-Kirsch dubbed her collection “BASED” and used Lil B’s image and message of love and positivity as her visual inspiration. FADER caught up with her after her show to talk about how the viral collection came to be.
JAY Z collaborates with Barneys, plugs Tom Ford
From Samsung to Barneys, JAY Z had a habit of distancing himself from his fans through brand deals. His 15-piece holiday collection for Barneys was the most alienating of his collaborations, ringing up at a total of $155,003—an average of $1,033.53 per item. He was criticized for standing by Barneys in the wake of their racial profiling scandal, but at least decided that all proceeds from his collection would go to charity. Where Barneys’ sales hurt, Tom Ford’s rocketed. Thanks to JAY Z’s ode, the designer saw a 155% increase in sales. Later, Ford dressed JAY Z’s arena tour partner Justin Timberlake for his solo tour.
Grimes models Balenciaga, poses for Hedi Slimane and hits the red carpet
Grimes’ Claire Boucher didn’t release any of her own creations this year, but the recent Roc Nation-signee worked closer with high-profile labels than in the past: She modeled Alexander Wang’s excellent Balenciaga debut in a spread for Vogue, starred in avant genius Iris Van Herpen’s spring 2013 campaign and posed for Saint Laurent’s creative head Hedi Slimane. Grimes also co-hosted the VMAs red carpet where she interviewed human meme RiFF RAFF. The best part about that gig? The fascinating promotional interview she did with riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna.
Givenchy taps Erykah Badu and outfits Rihanna, Ciara and Beyonce
Givenchy’s head Riccardo Tisci, previously responsible for JAY and Kanye West's Watch the Throne artwork, kept up his penchant for musician collaborations throughout 2013, outfitting Rihanna for her Diamonds world tour and brilliantly recruiting Erykah Badu to be one of the faces of his spring ‘14 collection, which she also inspired.
Frank Ocean models for Band of Outsiders
Frank Ocean mostly kept a low profile this year, though he appeared in a series of Polaroid-style photos for LA-based clothing label Band of Outsiders. It was pretty much the perfect pairing of sensibilities since both parties are known to keep their style simple but thoughtful.
Nicki Minaj designs for Kmart
True to Minaj’s personal style, there is absolutely nothing demure about her design debut for Kmart. But that is totally okay because it’s so clear she didn’t sacrifice any part of herself in her corporate collection. It’s loud, splashy, skin-tight and print heavy, with chains, animal spots, baroque diamonds and spacey motifs. Let us know if you find someone who can pull off the collection other than Minaj.
Hedi Slimane designs Daft Punk’s suits
For their reemergence, Daft Punk worked with Hedi Slimane on their masterly tailored suits, including the sequined ones they and cohorts Pharrell and Nile Rodgers wore in the video for “Get Lucky.” The duo got a lot of mileage out of their Saint Laurent threads—they also wore them for spreads in Vogue, CR Fashion Book, and WSJ.
David Bowie’s V&A Museum exhibit in London
After 45 years of reinvention and sartorial boundary-pushing, David Bowie’s innovative style was immortalized by both a museum exhibit and his earning the title “best dressed Britton of all time” by BBC History Magazine. Not surprisingly, the retrospective was massively attended. It was not only the London V&A museum’s fastest-selling show, it also forced the institution to keep their doors open till 10 p.m. to accommodate visitors. The show features over 300 Bowie items, from the iconic Aladdin Sane “Tokyo Pop” bodysuit to handwritten lyrics, and makes its only U.S. appearance next September in Chicago.
Deerhunter don Proenza Schouler
In press photos for Monomania, Deerhunter wore clothing straight off the runway at Proenza Schouler’s fall ‘13 show and one of the shots made it onto the back cover of the CD. Frontman Bradford Cox was such a fan of the collection, he took his dress on tour. Speaking to Style.com, he said, “Honestly there was nothing in [fashion] that interested me-- only the clothing of Proenza Schouler showed me anything worth looking at. I think they honestly are the most artistic and the most liberated of all the designers.”
Kenzo commissions Jamie xx and Mike D for runway soundtracks
Artsy fashion house Kenzo, helmed by Opening Ceremony’s designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, had some of the better runway music this past year. The pair tapped Jamie XX and Beastie Boys’ Mike D for stellar mixes.
RiFF RAFF’s ode to Dolce & Gabbana
“Dolce & Gabbana” was RiFF RAFF’s off-brand answer to A$AP Rocky’s “Fashion Killa.” Amazingly, RiFF RAFF’s visual clip doesn’t contain even one blouse, bag, or belt from the Italian brand, whose name he’s also mispronouncing. It’s all the more hilarious considering Dolce & Gabbana were at about their lowest point in history when the video was released.
Danny Brown Models for Uniqlo
Last year, Danny Brown suited up for menswear designer Mark McNairy. This year, the former FADER cover star struck a more casual note in a Keith Haring-inspired t-shirt for Uniqlo.
Musicians contribute to fashion films
David Bowie wasn’t the only music artist to work on a fashion film. This year brought other music-brand visual collaborations including How to Dress Well’s score for Patrik Ervell and Toro y Moi who penned the song “ABC of Fashion” for the newly relaunched i-D Magazine.
VFILES debuts music show and releases Bikini Kill collection
Online community and store VFILES enlisted Blood Orange, Kilo Kish, A$AP Ferg, Le1f, Mykki Blanco, A-Trak and many others, for the first season of their music show, “Out Hear” aka “the Tumblr version of MTV’s House of Style.” The site also released a capsule collection with Bikini Kill, signed off on by Kathleen Hanna, which featured a “Kill Me” tee (a nod to one of Hanna’s infamous stage outfits) as well as posters, an anthology of riot grrrl, and chapstick, which can still be purchased.
The MET’s not-really-punk gala
Finally, there was a lot of angst surrounding the retrospective exhibit on punk fashion at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, which, for many, felt like a caricature of the late ‘70s movement. (That the exhibit featured urinals taken from CGBG, placed a few feet away from a gown by Versace, is kind of case in point.) Those cynical inklings were confirmed by the MET Gala, the annual event organized by Anna Wintour to celebrate the kickoff of each exhibit, where A-list attendees either misinterpreted the theme (see Sarah Jessica Parker’s mohawk) or completely ignored it (Nicki Minaj in her basic blue dress). Oddly, in her unexpected gothic floral Givenchy gown with gloved arms, Kim Kardashian became the most punk thing about the event.