the swell of pride I felt walking out of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s Sex shop on London’s King’s Road with my very first pair of PVC pants. Black PVC pants; a lime-green and electric-blue mohair sweater from Fiorucci; blue-black hair; Alice Cooper-style makeup – that was my look. There weren’t many traces to kick over then – nobody can have been a more liberal parent than my mother – but boy, did I kick and kick as if there were.
Well, you couldn’t step out with a mohawk now (not unless you want to be bundled into care by your family), but that spirit of rebellion, of inappropriateness, of not giving a damn, all feels very now. How can one hijack the past, though, without looking like a caricature? How can you obtain the essence of that hard-core, full-on look, rather than the actual look itself? The judicious deployment of certain elements, of course. And if you are asking me what best signifies a bit of rebelliousness, it is leather. (Or,
if you are a Versace kind of gal, polished black vinyl). Not head to toe or skintight, though. You would have to be a braver (and younger) woman than me to wear it the way it was worn on the Versace runway, like liquid melded onto the body. But what about in Current/Elliott’s boyfriend jeans, or a black pencil skirt by Givenchy? And right there you already have two staples (three with a pair of black leather lace-up boots from Jason Wu) for your Grown-up Rebel closet.
It is not just clothes, though. In this instance accessories make the woman. If you are a built like a truck driver (as Helmut Newton once told me he liked his female subjects to be built), you could probably pull off a spiked dog collar or even an oversized metal harness, as Newton’s models did.
“That spirit of rebellion, of inappropriateness, of not giving a DAMN, all FEELS very NOW”
Bit kinky for me, though. Instead, what about a spiked pump by Valentino (otherwise the most ladylike label in the world), a riveted clutch by Saint Laurent, or an edgy ear cuff by Maria Black? (N.B. Ear cuffs. Underestimate their nowness at your peril).
Think if you will, that you are dressing for a Queens of the Stone Age concert (download Era Vulgaris immediately!) and that should steer you on the right course. It all chimes with the resurgence of post-punk/heavy metal, and while I wouldn’t advocate mullets and/or Goth makeup, I would recommend a lot of kohl and glossy red lipstick (see Eva Green for how it should be done right) and maybe, just maybe, a Tilda Swinton-style quiff. Could you handle a pierced nostril like Daria Werbowy’s on the September 2013 cover of British Vogue? No, I know, me, neither. But that’s okay, because here’s the thing: we may want to come across tough; we may want to come across a little androgynous – but we will always want to look pretty, too.
A leather pencil
skirt gives a classic a rebellious edge.
The lady punk’s essential accessory:
a studded bag.
A pop of classic red lipstick is the perfect final touch.