Stevie Nicks: From Imitation to High Fashion. A Deconstruction!

“She rings like a bell through the night and wouldn’t you love to love her?” Miss Nicks, like many divas, asks questions she already knows the answers to. YES!  We’d LOVE to love you! We would love to BE YOU!

How could one not? While many female pop stars fall prey to spandex, push-up bras, and attire better suited for working a pole instead of a mic stand, Miss Nicks opts for flowing sleeves, long scarves painting heiroglyphics in the wind, and layers–lots of silky, lacey, chiffon-drenched layers. Conceal, not reveal, is the style of Stevie, appropriately dubbed the high priestess of rock n’roll.

Miss Nicks said in an interview with Glamour in 1981, “I must have been eighteen–when I saw this girl in the audience wearing a mauvy pink chiffon skirt and very high cream suede boots. Her hair was kind of Gibson Girl–she she had some pink ribbons–and I thought, that’s it.”

 

Tamborines can frame yer face!

I find it appropriate that the look which Nicks has since called “timeless,” and spent her entire career cultivating and devoted to, was originally inspired by a nameless girl quite possibly tripping her balls off at a Janis Joplin concert. Once it made its way onto the tamborine-welding Stevie, the look has mesmerized the masses for decades.

Have you ever heard of Night of 1,000 Stevies? NOTS (as the event is abbreviated) is a ball-room sized event  that has gone on for over 20 years, where, QUITE LITERALLY, A THOUSAND PEOPLE of various genders, and sexualities ARE ALL DRESSED LIKE STEVIE NICKS. I googled Night of a 1,000 Stevie’s to pull up a photo as an example and guess what? On the second page of images, there I was, having a smoke back in 2009 wearing a veil and looking like I had a klonopin.

Me at NOTS 2009 surrounded by other chain-smoking Stevies.

There’s even a movie about NOTS. Gypsy 83 stars Sara Rue as a young Stevie Nicks fan taking the pilgrimage to NYC to attend the legendary Stevie extravaganza.

Stevie Nicks style will inspire you to get out of Ohio.

What is it about the black velvet gowns, the intricate lace, the drapery, the layering and flowy movements of all those shawls and scarves that draws people in from all over the world–inspiring events like NOTS, winning over both your mom in the midwest and fashion-forward designers? I think saying it’s dramatic and therefore attracts the theatrical, while somewhat true, is also an oversimplification and misses the point.

On a surface level, there is an air of romance. The very fabrics themselves are soft, inviting touch. And while some may be sheer, they are layered and draped about the body to suggest romantic inclination but never to assume it or demand it.  While the clothing of Stevie may be evocative of extravagant horse-drawn carriages or feasting on delicacies at the chateau while smoking the finest grass and sipping fine champagne while casting spells with your back-up singers (who are also your coven and in silent contract to imitate your style-choices at all-times AS WELL), it never puts the body on display in a way that seeks or even warrants overt sexual attention.  It doesn’t have to. Under the floral prints, fringe, and feathers, is an undercurrent of bohemian self-containment “I don’t need you, I don’t need anybody.”

Queen of Her Own Caravan.

They call her High Priestess of Rock n' Roll for a reason, kids.

Stevie-style can be found in the Goodwill, thrift-stores, and costume shops just as easily as in the apartment-sized closets of celebrities. I like to imagine Mary Kate Olsen and Nicole Richie meeting under a new moon, shrouded in couture floral gowns by Zuhair Murad, practicing witchcraft to ward off the desire to eat. (While the layering and billowy garments of Stevie-style is great for an air of mystery, it also cloaks the extremity of a protruding rib-cage, chiseled collar-bone or other signs of an eating disorder.)

Some, like musician Lykke Li, take Nick’s style and edge it up a little; less twirl, more pelvic thurst.

While others, like Florence Welch, have decided to nab the look, head to toe:

The first look is Chanel, the second, Gucci, but both (and much of Welch’s closet of late) is undeniably Haus of NICKS.

The Internet hasn’t yet gifted us with a “Shit Stevie Nicks Says” video, but she did upload a special message on the NOTS homepage  (http://www.mothernyc.com/stevie/ ) predicting what we should expect to see coming up in fashion.

Karl Lagerfeld apparently got the memo, (delivered by a white-winged dove I hope), and had Florence (who else) wearing this gorgeous gown complete with cape at a Herrod’s holiday sale.

floral gown by Zuhair Murad Resort 2012, very Stevie.

One place that is a little less red carpet, yet still has a case of full-blown NICKS, is Coachella. Here’s two girls, of unequal success, working Stevie Style:

Stevie Nicks fan or Lot Lizard? Both, its a look.

Miss Nicks would definitely discuss the various ways to work a sheer maxi skirt with this girl, maybe even go thrifting with her for what scarves look best tied around the strap of one’s purse.

Stevie Nicks has a treasure trove of looks, including sequin abuse (always an indicator of decadence and substance-struggles; drag queens, CONFIRM), untamed and relentless hair experiments (Miss Nicks is NOT afraid of split-ends), and nothing says “I run this circus,” like a jaunty top-hat.

For added authority--put a badge on it!

Have you seen any looks that you think are Stevie trickle-down? For the “gypsy, that remains.” From the runway, couture, thrift-finds, to Forever21, post your favorite Nicks inspired styles in the comment section. And remember:

XOXO,

Ben McCoy

About xoxobenmccoy

I may not remember your name but I will remember exactly what i was wearing on that day you failed to leave an impression.

8 comments

  1. I recently read a disturbing opinion piece lamenting how women used to try to look “pretty,” which the author equated with innocence, while now they try to look “hot,” which the author equated with sluttiness (which of course he thought was bad). So it’s really nice to be reminded that women don’t have to fall anywhere on the virgin/whore continuum. They can just look like brilliant goddesses.

    • xoxobenmccoy

      Exactly. Stevie often talks about her look being akin to ‘playing dress up,’and while that is certainly fun for anyone at any age or space I like to read into the dress ‘up’ meaning — literally, hoisting one’s self UP, elevating one self (6 inch platform boots always help with this) to some form of deity-like position. Of course that’s fun! But tapping into mythological looks are so popular I think because not only do they really elevate one’s feelings while wearing them, but they are so easily readable, so evocative to the viewer. A story, a character, a vibe. It really translates. Also, Miss Nicks is not afraid to rock the Grace Coddington hair which I’ve always thought was glamorously witchy.

  2. The great thing about Stevie is that she dresses like this in real life! I got to meet her once when she came to visit patients and families at Walter Reed when I was working there (and by the way- how incredible that she did such a thing!) and she was all witchy-woman-fabulous in flowing black. She rocks.

  3. Bellatrix from the Harry Potter movies (played by Helena Bonham Carter) looks a lot like an evil version of Stevie Nicks with the flowing dresses, the corsets, the lace, etc…

    • xoxobenmccoy

      I can’t believe I forgot to include Helena Bonham Carter! I feel like the Bellatrix wardrobe was probably 80% her own. Have you seen her on the red-carpet? She would definately blend well at Night of 1000 Stevies. But I guess being Tim Burton’s ladyfriend would do that to a gal. Also, a fan of jaunty-top hats :

      hats with veils!

      and if this doesn’t say a gypsy’s nite out of the caravan on their way to do a jig around the may pole….

  4. Ozzy’s outfit on the cover of Sabbath’s “Sabotage” has always struck me as very Stevie: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xgdFKJKrePE/Tr7yOV0zc7I/AAAAAAAAZ7s/vW2dZJXHYVA/s1600/BLACK+SABBATH+Sabotage.jpg

    OK, OK, so it came out in ’75… Ozzy must have also had a time machine.🙂

    Glam rock/metal also seems inspired by the same ideas — Steven Tyler, Cinderella, etc.

    • xoxobenmccoy

      Wow, Beth, he went for the whole thing— including the beige suede platform boots! I am sort of digging that paisely-ish sorcerer robe. WHAT IF ITS VELVET! I think I just dropped my dragonsbane.

      Also there is something I love about the names of “Steven Tyler/Cinderella,” together. The visual alone….

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