Monday, 11 October 2010

'The Entertainers' - Annie Lennox and Grace Jones

Lets start the show. Two little case studies of Eccentric Style - Lennox and Jones. Two potentially controversial but highly inspirational women. Take a look :)

GRACE JONES A panther, masculine, womanly, athletic, a model/singer/actress, icon and unforgettable. She adopted in the 1970s a severe, androgynous style, with square-cut hair and angular padded clothes. Defining her style are bold shapes, striking unusual silhouettes, and a lot of black and other vampish colours. With fierce accessories galore, including hats, hoods, masks, gloves and shades, she’s often left looking like some kind of outlandish warrior. Being not masculine and not a typical outspoken-but-physically-unable ‘empowered woman’, she is a woman and strong - two independent labels - and her style designates her as such. She is proof you shouldn’t tell any woman what she should be.

ANNIE LENNOX - A real performer, with an amazing voice, stage presence, dignity, sexiness and sophistocation. When performing, she is a chameleon, adopting different personas, often provocative, for different songs. These ‘characters’ include an angel, a showgirl, an 18th Century French Aristocrat, an orange-haired androgynous suit, an obsessive-compulsive middle-class housewife, a blonde Marilyn-Monroe-like sexual vixen, a leather-coated androgynous figure performing to a gang of Hell’s Angels and a masked figure in a space-age ball-gown. Her style revolves around her performances, presenting the theatrical, with dramatic and comedic flourishes, being unafraid to experiement with gender-bending attire – all set off by her strikingly beautiful face and voice. She achieves something that many female performers have failed at – She can express a sexuality and strength, while still remaining dignified, dazzling and fully-dressed. She knows how to be a woman, how to doge stereotype and how to wear a suit.


...I keep using words like ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’ and ‘androgynous’. This is where it gets interesting. (See if you can follow my train of thought.)

Remember, the concepts of 'Masculinity' and 'Femininity' refer to attributes that are indeed associated, but not exclusively, to gender. And what is typically a 'masculine' or 'feminine' characteristic has usually been defined as such by a biased past or at least by a past drastically different from our present state. We are taught that men must be strong and not feel, while women must feel but remain somewhat passive. But let us consider it instead as Yin (‘female’ energy) and Yang (‘masculine’ energy). I was taught a couple of years ago that everyone, regardless of gender, has ‘female’ energies (e.g. emotion, intuitive, receptive, nurturing) and ‘male’ energies (strong, action-oriented, forceful), and that to achieve a balance between the two is to be a rounded person. A Yin/Yang balance means our actions (Yang/’masculine’) support our feelings and heart’s desires (Yin/’feminine’).

This might all sound like pretentious hippy-talk, but basically what I’m saying is that when something is called ‘masculine’ it is not instantly a compliment to a man and a derogative term to a woman (and vice versa for ‘femininity’).

Just think – find a balance. Type into Google Image Search 'Annie Lennox' or 'Grace Jones' and you'll get an idea of what I mean. Emotion and strength. Actions and feelings. One and the other. Yin and Yang. Suit and tie with high heels, pastels with biker boots. It’s all a bit of fun. And it’ll keep the world on its toes :)

Give it a go.


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