It’s undeniable that electronic music and fashion are constantly interacting. When rave culture blew up in the late 1980s, party-goers helped push fashion into adopting a more relaxed, loose style that was comfortable enough to dance in well into the early hours of the morning. With the help of the punk and grunge movements around the same time, fashion inevitably picked up on the trends that musicians and music fans alike were favoring; since, the worlds of fashion and dance music have been inescapably intertwined, and today, everything from ready-to-wear to high-fashion is taking cues from the electronic music, not only as the soundtrack to the industry’s top runway shows but as inspirations, campaign faces, and muses. Here are our picks for the 10 best fashion and music collaborations of all time.
10. Maison Kitsuné (2002-present)
When Maison Kitsuné (featured earlier today) was conceived in 2002, founders Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki wanted the label to engage with both the fashion and music communities. Loaëc, Daft Punk’s former manager, and Kuroki created the Kitsuné brand as a hybrid fashion house and record label; despite a rather subdued take on fashion that resulted in prep-inspired schoolboy separates and an overtly classic aesthetic, the record label has signed some of the strongest names in electro and indie electronica, with artists like Hot Chip, Simian Mobile Disco, Cut Copy, and Yelle all releasing under the Kitsuné name.
9. Chanel x Chromatics (2012)
Karl Lagerfeld is one of the most recognizable names in fashion, not only as the man behind iconic French label Chanel, but also for his crass statements on just about everything. Despite his almost 80 years of age, Lagerfeld is regarded as one of fashion’s most influential designers and the go-to voice for opinions of every kind; it’s no surprise, then, (or maybe it is) that the Kaiser himself invited American synthpop group Chromatics to perform live at his Spring 13 runway show, which was, in and of itself, a sight to behold. The show, which took place at the Grand Palais in Paris just a few weeks ago, featured a massive runway with huge, looming wind turbines rotating overhead, and Chromatics providing the live soundtrack, conceived exclusively for the show by frontman Johnny Jewel. Both new and archive tracks were present in the mix, including “Tick of the Clock,” “Kill for Love,” and their version of “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush. Even though the collection and the soundtrack seemed to clash slightly, the collaboration was celebrated by industry leaders.
8. Saint Laurent x Daft Punk (2012)
After being appointed creative director of famed Parisian fashion house Yves Saint Laurent this past year, designer Hedi Slimane made waves in the industry with a shocking re-brand of the label in its entirety; right down to its obviously iconic name. Despite doubts (and a lot of hate) from the fashion world, Slimane continued to pursue his vision for the house with a debut menswear collection inspired by glam-rock legends like David Bowie. His Spring 13 womenswear runway soundtrack, however, was mixed exclusively for the show by French house duo Daft Punk, who took edited vocal and guitar clips from American juke-joint blues singer Junior Kimbrough’s “I Gotta Try You Girl,” resulting in a funky, tenacious, twang-driven set. The collaboration was so well-received that even Slimane haters couldn’t help but take notice.
7. Rick Owens x Zebra Katz (2012)
In a highly thematic season that took inspiration from Brutalist architecture with a paradoxically romantic twist, American designer Rick Owens’ Fall 12 collection was something to behold—typically dark with now-iconic slashed ski masks providing an almost masochistic vibe. A perfect complement to the pounding brutalism of the show itself, Zebra Katz’s “Ima Read” provided a pulsating minimal bassline to the harsh reality of Owens’ designs. Subsequently, the track became the “soundtrack” to Paris Fashion Week—Owens and Zebra Katz even collaborated on a short music documentary with Dazed Digital. The partnerships didn’t stop there, with Zebra Katz going on to collaborate with Owens’ wife Michele Lamy and London producer Matthew Stone on a remix of Stone’s “How Do You Feel?”, released in August.
6. KENZO x Nguzunguzu (2011)
When Carol Lim and Humberto Leon took over the then-failing Japanese fashion house KENZO, in 2011, the brand’s rebirth brought a fresh aesthetic geared towards a younger, playful customer. Far from the KENZO designs of the past that were infamously granny-esque, the brand launched into a new era that has been at the head of the industry ever since. Manifesting their keen cheekiness through colourful yet rebellious designs (a quality first celebrated since the founding of their own label Opening Ceremony), Lim and Leon made waves when they paired up with LA-based duo Nguzunguzu to create the soundtrack to their Fall 12 runway show. Comprised completely of original tracks, the mix is an incredibly on-point distillation of their cumbia-infused, trip-hop beats, and marked a turning point for the duo’s career. Since, the mix has been on heavy rotation with fashion lovers, with Nguzu drawing more ties in the industry with an exclusive mix for Canadian luxury retailer SSENSE.
5. Alexander Wang x Diplo and Die Antwoord (2011-present)
American contemporary designer Alexander Wang is one of the most musically integrated major players in fashion. Often choosing a singer, rapper, or DJ as the face of his campaign instead of the traditional model or celebrity muse, Wang has worked with everyone from Azealia Banks to A$AP Rocky and Die Antwoord—and his work with Diplo has undoubtedly been the most renowned. Often described as Wang’s muse, Diplo was named the face of Wang’s diffusion line, T by Alexander Wang, back in 2011, and the two have been inspiring one another ever since, with Diplo’s fusion of hip-hop and electro house building on Wang’s astutely downtown style; the two likewise released a campaign for Fall 12 to commemorate the opening of Wang’s flagship store in Beijing, featuring rapper A$AP Rocky and strangely, Penn Badgley (who has nothing to do with fashion or music) telling the story behind their creativity and their personal style. Wang also paired up with South African rave-rap project Die Antwoord, featuring their single “Fatty Boom Boom” in his campaign video for Spring.
4. Gareth Pugh x Matthew Stone (!WOWOW! Collective) (2004-present)
Marking one of the longest ongoing collaborations between a fashion designer and a musician, British designer Gareth Pugh and producer Matthew Stone have been working together since 2004, when they conceived The Children of !WOWOW! in Peckham, London. The collective, which includes artists like Hanna Hanra, Adham Faramawy, and Boo Saville, is a group of fashion designers, writers, and musicians who started out throwing warehouse parties in South East London. Since then, Stone has mixed and produced the soundtrack for Pugh’s infamously forward-thinking runway shows. Pugh is renowned for his architectural designs and ominously modern construction, elevated only by the grinding, pulsating beat of Stone’s deep, dark minimal house and techno.
3. Dazed Digital x The xx (2010)
This particular partnership might be slightly on the fringe side of music-fashion collaborative crossovers, but the exclusive video from The xx and online fashion and music magazine Dazed Digital was a revelation in its day. The video was used as a digital video cover for Dazed Digital’s April 2010 issue, featuring sounds from The xx’s freshman album, and starred band members Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, and Jamie Smith in a hazy, high-contrast dream-like sequence. Shot by acclaimed fashion photographer Pierre Debusschere (who recently shot the bizarre, fragmented campaign for Raf Simons’ Spring12 season) and styled by Dazed menswear editor Robbie Spencer, the video was an adventurous new interpretation of digital publishing and helped put The xx on the map.
2. rag & bone and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (2011)
American design duo Marcus Wainwright and David Neville are self-confessed long-time fans of iconic British alternative electronic project Radiohead. Since becoming friends with frontman Thom Yorke in recent years, Wainwright and Neville (the minds behind contemporary ready-to-wear label rag & bone) collaborated with Yorke for a tailor-made soundtrack to their Spring 12 runway presentation in New York in 2011. The two featured tracks, “Stuck Together” and “Twist,” leaked online back in January, with full versions released in the following weeks, and are both decidedly “Yorke”; “Twist” is a textural, experimental electronic sound with dream-infused landscapes and breaky, repetitive vocals, perfectly complemented by “Stuck Together,” which combines ethereal woodwind sounds with white noise-like percussive elements. An effortless partnership that resonated strongly with fashion and music lovers alike.
1. Alexander McQueen x Björk (1997)
1997 marked a shift for Icelandic singer Björk, when she began incorporating orchestral elements and unusual vocals into her quixotic, eerie electronica, distinctly present in one of her most famous albums, Homogenic. The cover for the album was a collaboration between Björk and the late Alexander McQueen (who remains one of the most respected designers of the 20th century). A directional distillation of both Björk’s and McQueen’s styles, the crossover was, although not the first, one of the most notable partnerships in music and fashion of its time. McQueen went on to direct the video for Björk’s “Alarm Call” in 1998; a highly saturated interpretation that somehow perfectly complements the gritty energy of the pop-electronic track, the video cleverly represents the untouchable strangeness of both Björk and McQueen.
Can you think of any big collabs we missed? If so, let us know in the comments below.