District MTV Names Gwen an Icon

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Though this was posted a few months ago, we just came across it and wanted to share! Gwen was named an Icon from District MTV (a UK based site featuring closer looks at global fashion) back in September of 2012. They posted a pretty neat video showcasing several music videos and performance and some photos of Gwen’s iconic looks from the past. It’s amazing to see how far she’s come and Gwen still raises the bar to this day.

Live 105's BFD 1996 - Mountain View CA

District MTV — When it comes to pop stars, everyone loves the flawed icon, the shadowy backstory or the edge of controversy. There are some figures, however, that seem to skirt all that, rise above it, by virtue of being a bit different – or a bit special. In pop, it’s rare you get the whole package – beauty, talent and a sense of style. Gwen Stefani is one of those rarities. Forget the good-looking husband and two gorgeous kids, her look is enough – baby blonde hair, red lips and Minnie Mouse eyes.

Stefani’s style confidence actually stems from a love of fashion from the start. From a family of seamstresses, she started making clothes early. For her first stage appearance – as Maria in her school’s production of The Sound of Music – she recreated Julie Andrews’ famous tweed dress. Not bad for a teenage amateur. It was a hobby that continued. Reminiscing recently, she remembered buying thrift clothes and altering them – “a lot of glue guns, lots of velcro” were involved, apparently.

It was her time in No Doubt that cemented a look for Stefani – toned midriff became her much-envied trademark. Describing style for the band as something “that we don’t really dive too deeply into, it’s just something that kinda happens naturally,” she certainly has developed an affinity for it. Joining the band in 1987 as the 18-year-old kid sister of keyboardist Eric (fun fact: Eric then left the band and worked as a cartoonist on The Simpsons), Gwen was, as she said later, a “super-ska girl. I wore only black and white and hoop earrings.” It was bass player Tony Kanal – with whom Stefani had a seven-year relationship – who introduced her to artists like Prince and Lisa Lisa. From Minneapolis and New York respectively, Stefani – who hails from suburban California – sucked up looks that collaged risqué glamour and street culture, reinterpreting them in her own version.

She had time to let it simmer. No Doubt hit the big time in 1995 with Tragic Kingdom, their third album and the one that unleashed a ska-meets-rock sound on the world. The third single ‘Don’t Speak’, went number one globally and Stefani was suddenly a front woman with all eyes on her. It was a role she had been waiting her whole life to play. Introducing the band to MTV in ’96, the 27-year-old had her look down, big goofy grin, lots of cut-off T-shirts, combats, coloured shades, combat boots and that signature peroxide hair in a bob, pinned back with bobby pins.

The look was tough but with that face, girly at the same time. She provided something different from the downbeat style of the zeitgeist – Courtney Love in a slipdress and runny eyeliner, Alanis Morrisette’s anti-glamour, Bjork’s burgeoning kook. Talking to MTV House of Style in 1996, she told supermodel Shalom Harlow, she was “such a girly chick, it’s stupid.”

Or perhaps it was very clever – she was ‘just a girl’, as the track goes, but she was a girl mad about fashion, able to put a look together with ease and flair. Before stylists ruled over oufits for their charges to go grocery shopping, she was making her own style up with flair. Boys swooned and girls stared. They wanted to be just like her. After the ‘Don’t Speak’ video was released, you’d hazard a guess that polka dot slipdress sales went through the roof.

If a street influence dominated her No Doubt years, when the band took a break in 2002, Stefani’s look – as well as sound – flourished in a solo career. The street was still there, in beanies and wifebeaters as well as a new gang in the shape of the Harajuku Girls – but sometimes Stefani turned into a character. See Alice in Wonderland (‘What You Waiting For’) or the best cheerleader even Glee have never come across (‘Hollaback Girl’). It makes sense when you know Disneyland was a short drive from her hometown in Anaheim.

The forties-style hair previewed in ‘Don’t Speak’ foreshadowed a silver screen goddess look – she even got to play her idol Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator – and this is something that has become signature Stefani. Never a pastiche, Stefani’s style is hip but it’s also classic. See a look in April this year – Stella McCartney jumpsuit with a peplum and sheer sides, it was old school Hollywood but given a new twist with minimal makeup and a dollop of sexiness. That’s Stefani now – she loves fashion, and sees it as a bonus to all her hard work. “After you make all the music, it’s sort of the reward – to get all dressed-up,” she told us. Like we said, the full package.

5 Replies to “District MTV Names Gwen an Icon”

  1. Jenny can you tell me if there is a bigger version of the pic you used of Gwen? Not the two pics here but the one where she looks like she has an evil smile lol

  2. I’ve seen Gwen on the Distrikt MTV advert on the tv loads here in the U.K, during loads of advertisements it has been on, just a little old school clip of Gwen and then it just says a little about Distrikt MTV, I get so happy every time I see it!

  3. I LOVE THIS LOOK from the AMA’s. Gwen rightfully so is a true icon who earned it!!! she didnt have to fall to any mindless antics like Lady Gaga or Madonna to get her spot, she did it with her genuine craft and self respect

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