Breaking down the journey from musician to designer

Image via Yeezy
Words by Maki Morita

How well do they pull it off?

The fashion world has a well-established history of collaborating with musicians. Think of Bowie’s world of space-inspired characters or Prince’s iconic performance outfits. The clothes artists wear are intrinsic to the characters they inhabit in their music.

But sometimes the connections are more literal. Alongside their careers in the entertainment industry, musicians Peggy Gou, Kanye West and Victoria Beckham are just a few stars that have made the leap from performing in garments to designing them.

We delve into their collections to examine how some of their creations held up.

Kirin by Peggy Gou

When South Korean DJ and producer Peggy Gou isn’t making house music and jetting around the world to play sets at international festivals, she’s shopping, styling and now, designing. With a background in fashion working for Harper’s Bazaar Korea and initial career ambitions to become a stylist, Peggy’s latest streetwear label Kirin is a natural progression in her creative oeuvre. The DJ’s label was released earlier this year in partnership with Italian fashion company New Guards Group (the brains behind Off-White).

Peggy states that her approach to design and music are similar, as she wants her music to be energetic and happy, and for this to be reflected in her fashion brand. As a full-time DJ and producer with enough on her hands, Peggy was initially hesitant to launch a side project in fashion. However, her time spent in club culture has clearly brought a fresh perspective to her design work. The striking colours and cyberpunk trench coats in Kirin pay homage to the bold fashion worn by rave kids. And like her music, the label draws inspiration from Peggy’s roots, featuring a lion-like creature from Korean mythology. Kirin mirrors both Peggy’s cultural upbringing and love of house music. The breathless brainchild of this creative whirlwind couldn’t have been created by anyone else.

Yeezy by Kanye West

The king of rap, controversy and street style, Kanye West is no stranger to fashion. Having made numerous collaborations with high fashion brands including French label A.P.C., Louis Vuitton and of course his Yeezy sneaker empire now established through Adidas, Kanye has forged a successful career for himself as a fashion designer. The rapper and all-round entrepreneur is making no compromises in setting up his billion-dollar sneaker enterprise as the top of the industry.

To create his designs, Kanye claims to draw from influences as varied as cult Japanese anime classic Akira and the Bible. He sets Yeezy apart by refusing to follow the typical cycles of the fashion industry. Having already built himself a fortune through music and fashion, Kanye’s next move may be into the world of politics, spreading the flames of internet rumours that he will run for president in 2024.

As the multi-hyphenate creative ticks industries off his evil genius world-domination list (and his resume), there is still heated debate as to whether his designs are groundbreaking or merely courting controversy. Yeezy Crocs set Twitter alight earlier this year and he received industry-wide condemnation for pushing models to the point of heat exhaustion and collapse for his Season 4 show in 2016. We are yet to see a design of genuine artistic repute, but maybe he can see lightyears into the future us mere mortals can’t. 

Victoria Beckham by Victoria Beckham

The transformation from ‘Posh Spice: pop star’, to ‘Victoria Beckham: fashion designer’ didn’t come without its trials and tribulations. When Beckham decided to enter the fashion industry, she didn’t just want another fleeting collaboration, but to establish her very own label. Beckham said in a 2012 documentary that she took on the persona of ‘Posh Spice’ “because I liked the nice restaurants and the nice clothes, and that was my character,” foreshadowing her future in high fashion.

But the Spice Girls broke up in 2000, catapulting their fan base into a new century and an uncertain future. For Beckham, this officially signalled her turn from international pop star to fashion designer (although a cycle of Spice Girls reunions, break-ups, and more reunions has continued her Posh Spice legacy). Beckham initially found it difficult to be taken seriously as a designer, but her sleek and understated designs have won her numerous awards. Last year she celebrated 10 years in the industry.

Musicians that have made their mark in fashion may lack the technical training of designers, but their careers in entertainment have influenced their varied approach to design. Music and fashion are different in many ways but they converge in their reflections of culture.

Just the way all good art does.

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