As Gwen Stefani, lead singer for the band No Doubt, gets ready to go on stage, she looks like a pumped-up, punked-out Jean Harlow.
â€œIâ€™ve always been obsessed by the days of the Hollywood starlet.â€ said the platinum blonde, whose coiffed, peroxide locks mix with glittery stage wear, including primary-colored cropped tanks over rhinestone-studded bras, parachute pants, Doc Martens and a gem glued to the center of her forehead (a look she says she adapted from an ex-boyfriendâ€™s East Indian mother).
Stefani credits a range of fashion influences â€“ from East India to East L.A., from Doc Martens to workout wear â€“ for her glam-punk look.
Post-concert, itâ€™s a similar style â€“ minus the shine â€“ with an emphasis on comfort. The rigorous tour has her relaxing offstage in Adidas workout pants and sneakers, for the most part.
The schedule has also affected Stefaniâ€™s old shopping habits.
â€œBefore, I was always going to thrift stores,â€ she said, in a girlish, scratchy voice a day after a raucous concert at Roseland here. â€œThese days I hardly have time to go get toothpaste.â€
The Anaheim, Calif.-based band has been on a whirlwind tour for a year in the wake of its double platinum album, â€œTragic Kingdom.â€ Critics and fans have rallied behind the groupâ€™s blend of funk and pop.
At her shows, the high-energy 26-year-old bounces around the stage and shows off rippled abs to the moshing fans, diving and body-surfing across the crowds.
â€œAre there any girls here?â€ she screams to the audience before belting out the hit single â€œJust a Girl.â€
The crowd erupts in a volcanic roar, as fans approve the nose-thumbing lyrics about a womanâ€™s perceived place in the world.
Part of Stefaniâ€™s charm emanates from a childlike aura â€“ complete with an attentive gaze and high-pitched voice â€“ despite her tough-girl stage persona.
After shows, Stefani strolls around backstage, shaking hands with music critics and signing autographs for young fans. Itâ€™s likely she hasnâ€™t forgotten that the bandâ€™s nine-year ascent was built on many late shows in nightclubs and gigs in parts unknown.
A spokeswoman from No Doubtâ€™s record label, Trauma, said the band is truly a Cinderella story. Two prior albums and a West Coast following were just fractional indicators of success. With Tragic Kingdom, the band broadened its style to include more of a pop sound than before â€“ and hit pay dirt.
Success hasnâ€™t spoiled Stefani.
â€œGwenâ€™s anti-drug â€“ sheâ€™s become like a spokesperson, unofficially, for young girls in this country,â€ said the Trauma spokeswoman. â€œSheâ€™s not into that whole drugs, sex, rock â€˜nâ€™ roll thing. Sheâ€™s one of the most wholesome people I know.â€
Stefani still relates to the girls-next-door and they relate to her.
â€œI was the type who thought I could never influence anyone, this loser from Anaheim,â€ Stefani explained. â€œBut I have such normal experiences â€“ the mainstream Orange County chic-girls can relate.â€
Girls relate not only to her lyrics, they also emulate her sense of fashion. The mostly teenage audiences at the shows mirror the hip-hoppish pants-and-tank combo, with many Adidas logos in the mix. And Stefani just filmed a â€œHouse of Styleâ€ episode for MTV, in which she details her tough-but-sexy chic.
â€œIn high school, I couldnâ€™t stand to have the same thing as everyone else,â€ she explained. â€œI always made my own clothes â€“ and had many disasters.â€
She still designs for herself, but the fashion disasters are over. Stefani has teamed with Deborah Viereck, a Los Angeles designer who also does custom work for rock stars Marilyn Manson and Seven Mary Three through her company, called â€˜T ainâ€™t.
â€œShe goes through phases,â€ Viereck said. â€œAt first it was like a Chicano gang-member look, but with touches like reflective strips.
â€œThen she started getting really sparkly. We do things that catch the light a lot, like sequin pants.â€
Pants are key, due to the aerobic nature of a No Doubt show.
â€œShe wears a lot of punk rocker bondage pants, in red, green, blue and yellow,â€ Viereck said.
In the heyday of the Sex Pistols, fans could be seen in multi-zippered numbers, usually in tartan plaid. Viereck gets in all those special straps, zippers and chains, but in Stefani style.
â€œWeâ€™ll do a bright yellow pant with black zippers and straps or red with yellow,â€ Viereck said. â€œContrast is one of the most important elements of her clothing. Itâ€™s almost like a cartoon-animated style.â€
When Stefaniâ€™s not touring, Viereck said, the looks are more tempered, with a retro feminine flare.
â€œShe wears all that nice feminine clothing offstage, like cute Forties-style dresses and shoes,â€ said the stylist.
Stefani seems pleased with the custom collaboration. Who knows? A spinoff could be in her future.
â€œI would love to start a line with Deborah,â€ she said. â€œI love fashion.â€