After performing live in the Super Bowl in front of an estimated 100 million screaming fans, Gwen Stefani is no longer “just a girl in the world.” The hard-bodied, platinum blonde has combined grunge and glamour to fashion herself into a trendsetting pop icon of “Madonna” proportions.
On the verge of launching her own fashion line, the award-winning singer/songwriter is responsible for three platinum albums and sold-out concert tours the world over. But will the savagely cut Amazon who begins her concerts with perfectly posed push-ups and stalks the stage in boxing boots ever be comfortable in her own flawless skin? Many of the hit songs she writes and sings are full of the same insecurities, longing, jealousy, and pain, that the rest of us mere mortals experience. Perhaps her group’s name, No Doubt, is more of a queston than a declaration.

Gwen certainly started life like the rest of us, except she had a rollercoaster in her backyard. Born on October 3, 1969 in Orange County’s Anaheim, home of the original Disneyland in Southern California, Gwen had two brothers, Eric and Tony, one sister, Jill, and competed on her high school swim team, then attended classes at Fullerton College.

“I Was Never a Leader”

When her keyboard-playing brother Eric invited her to join his newly formed ska-punk band, she obliged, not because she wanted to be a rock star or thought she was a great singer. Gwen joined the band because she was used to following her big brother. “I did whatever he told me to do. I was never a leader,” she says.

It was during the early years of the band’s existence that clouds first began to obscure the sunshine of Gwen’s young life. Her brother left the group to pursue other interests, and the group’s original lead singer, John Spence, took his own life. Gwen also began a tumultuous romantic relationship with the group’s bassist, Tony Kanal. No Doubt was eight years and two albums old before they got their first hit, Spider Webs, on their soon-to-be smash album, “Tragic Kingdom,” a dark play on Disney’s “Magic Kingdom” in Gwen’s old neighborhood, where she was still living at home with her parents. Gwen has come a long way sice moving out and going on her first concert tour. At least, it would seem that way on the outside. She lives in a gated villa in the Griffith Park section of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, and, as of September 14, she’s happily married to her six-year love, Bush front-man Gavin Rossdale, whom she met in Southern California in the Spring of 1996, when the two bands were on tour together. They now split whatever time they have together when their bands are not on tour, between Gavin’s London flat and Stefani’s Hollywood home.

Their weddings (there were two, actually, one in London, one in Los Angeles) were the stuff of fairy tales. Gwen’s friend, Chanel’s John Galliano, designed a stunning, traditional pink-tinged, cream-colored dress especially for her. The first ceremony, held mostly for Gavin’s people, took place in St. Paul’s Church in London’s posh Covent Garden. Gavin wore a tuxedo and his trademark designer shades through the entire ceremony. His Scottish mother wore a traditional British morning suit, and even the couple’s Hungarian sheepdog Winston was decked with pink and purple flowers on his collar.

After a quickie honeymoon in France, the couple went thrugh the nuptial routine again in California on September 28. That ceremony was attended by the princess-like bride’s celebrity friends, including Ben Stiller and Courteney Cox Arquette.

Gwen’s Fabric Kingdom

Gwen’s belly-baring, bindi-wearing style has been voraciously copied by “Gwenabes” the world over, who now will be able to go legit. Gwen is laundhing her own fahion line. The apparel line won’t fully debut until spring of 2004, but she’s teaming with LeSportsac for a series of bags and accessories due in stores September 1.

The line has been dubbed L.A.M.B., an acronym of her favorite words – love, angel, music, baby – which will be printed in white letters on the bags. Items to be rleased this fall inclue wristlets, CD and iPod cases, cosmetic clutches, handbags, wallets, totes, even a tour bag duffel, most made of rip-stop nylon with grosgrain accents, antiqued metal hardware and woven guitar strap handles. They’ll be priced from $20 to $158.

The winner of the best Rock Style at the 2001 VH1/Vogue Fashion awards owes much of her look to friend and stylist Andrea Leiberman, but the two work together to come up with Gwen’s unique look. And there have been more than a few “misses.” Her baggy, low-slung plaid pants in addition to heavy leather, chains, and bathing suit tops, have landed her on more than one “fashion don’t” list.

“You get dressed up and share it with people,” Gwen says, without much ado. “I’ve always thought about being a fashion designer. But I never did anything about it.”

Even with a life most of us would consider beyond perfect, Gwen still has doubts. “I think I’ve been able to fool a lot of people because I know I’m a dork,” she says. “I’m a geek.” Most people would have no doubt the opposite is true. To many, Gwen Stefani has become the Queen of Cool.