I’ll never forget the first time I saw a photo of Mick Jagger playing Hyde Park in 1969; it was at a concert two days after Brian Jones, the original Rolling Stone, had drowned in his own swimming pool, something rock conspiracy theorists would later claim was murder. Mick, playing for free to a crowd of thousands while the band set free hundreds of butterflies to memorialize their lost friend, was wearing a garmet that existed somewhere between a poet’s shirt, a white tutu and some sort of Victorian mini-dress fit for a very loosey-goosey countess.
I had already fallen in love with every little lick I’d heard of Exile on Main Street, but I was just as amorous over the vision that someone like Mick presented: the inextricable link between music and fashion, both high and low, and what a certain item (from Janis Joplin’s scarves to the Ramones’ jeans and motorcycle jackets, the very vision of which has inspired my leather habit, as disastrous as that is to my poor wallet) can project. I have been known to roll my eyes when musicians tell me that the “look” is unimportant: artistry is all about a complete package, and even Kurt Cobain’s ripped knees and ratty sweater was at a level of intentional unintentionality. (Kim Logan wrote us a poignant essay once on the dying art of the musical fashion muse).
Which brings me to Nashville’s Amanda Valentine, the uniquely talented local designer and fashion stylist, whose aesthetic of rock ‘n’ roll alien is perfectly suited to the mix of artists whose looks and frocks she fashions (and tugs on my own personal heartstrings due to a penchant for my own holy grail, fringe and leather, particularly when they are combined).
Amanda, whose brother James plays guitar for Maroon 5, was a contestant on Project Runway Season 11, but the show didn’t entirely showcase the breadth of her work (crazy deadlines, reality TV pressure and editing can do that), which is unique in its combination of exotic textiles, hand-drawn patterns and modern shapes. In addition to her own line, Valentine Valentine, she also styles scores of musicians (her first job was helping out on the set of her brother’s first music video, as you will read below in her Nashville Five).
Fashion is such an important part of music – just take a look at that Mick Jagger tunic to see why – so we asked Amanda to give us her top five musical moments, from Wanda Jackson’s fringe to Esperanza Spaulding’s diverse dresses. Maybe one day we’ll get a dream Valentine Valentine fringey-leather number, too. After all, fashion is about fantasy…
By Amanda Valentine :::
After about 9 years of styling/designing and working with musicians- here’s what I’ve got:
1. Helping Wanda Jackson pick out a fringed top. (for her Thunder on the Mountain music video): She came prepared (though at the time I was still doing hair and makeup as well as wardrobe, so I did get to touch up her gorgeous face). I just helped her choose tops and shoes and add jewelry. She was as pro as it gets- and wasn’t afraid to tease Jack White the whole time we were shooting.
2. My very first music video was my brother’s very first music video. (Maroon 5’s Harder to Breathe video): I was still in college when my brother joined Maroon 5 (then Kara’s Flowers) and they shot their FIRST music video. Everyone was working for free. I spent my spring break visiting and assisting their stylist putting together looks for the band. I remember Nellie (their stylist at the time) dropping me off at Warner Brothers Costume House (basically 2 airplane hangers full of clothing floor to ceiling) and said- “Here’s a list of the kind of stuff I want. Go find it.” 5 hours later, tired and sore, I thought- I must really like this. Because it really is the opposite of glamourous.
3. Sending dresses to Esperanza Spaulding. Over and over again: Ms. Spaulding’s stylist lives in Nashville and quickly became a good friend of mine. And Esperanza really prioritized finding new young designers and wearing something different every night. It’s really commendable because it’s a lot to juggle in addition to you know- playing show after show and traveling the world. She features everything she wears on her style blog.
4. Designing a dress for Miranda Lambert on national television: After several stressful weeks of reality tv, nothing felt better than a country challenge to remind me of music city. As a designer on Project Runway, we were asked to design a dress inspired by and made for Miranda Lambert. I kept it simple- short, tight, and fring-y.
5. All the crazy collaborations I have going now: In the end, I design women’s clothing but style mostly men. My styling and designing has started to merge and now I’m creating custom pieces for my clients- which is more fun than I ever thought I could have! I just made a Georgian style coat (but somehow modern) for the lead singer of For King and Country, made 5 matching white suits with zany trim for Family Force Five, and created custom pieces for Twenty One Pilots – and they just wore them on the MTV Movie Awards!