Saturday, 26 November 2011

Karen O: Style Icon Extraordinaire

Karen O, lead singer of New York based indie rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is a true style icon. As well as being one of the greatest front women ever, she manages to embellish all of her artistic endeavours with the pizzazz that is so resonant in her music, particularly when it comes to fashion. Her stage outfits range from the magnificent to the extraordinary to the plain bizarre, yet she always seems to exude coolness and charm. Her friend and long time collaborator, designer Christian Joy (Christiane Hultquist), is responsible for the majority of Karen’s eclectic collection, and her reputation has grown as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs became more and more famous with Karen receiving attention from the fashion media for the captivating outfits she donned at live shows. Karen’s latest project is her opera Stop the Virgens and she has expressed the importance of the costume and make up in the show, commenting “The costume, hair and makeup tell the story just as much as the music and choreography do.” She enlisted the help of Joy, along with make-up artist Mike Potter to bring her vision to life. Their mutual respect and understanding of each others creative perspectives made it very easy for them to create a fantastic spectacle for fans to enjoy, but Karen admits that she likes to let them have freedom in designing. "The way I work with Christiane and Mike is to mostly let them do what they want. It works best that way." For a month and a half, Joy and her team made costumes for the main cast which includes Karen, seven main Virgens, 33 chorus Virgens and two Sentinels. The show boasts costumes including lotus glasses (with 3D flowers projecting from the eyes), a gilded stuffed lobster claw and a mammoth spiky crown that adorns Joy’s personal favourite of the costumes. The look is comprised of tiers of white ruffles and is the first of the seven looks that Karen wears. Potter wanted the make-up to transform the actresses so they looked like a "happy yet melancholy" doll and he painted the lips naked and applied opaque white cream around the eyes to make them huge and round. The Virgens are supposed to look “scary, beautiful and sublime”, and Karen always enjoys experimenting with her make-up, though usually sports a rocky black eyeliner with red lipstick which is a failsafe classic look. I wonder whether we will be seeing a new doll-like style to Karen’s make-up choices in the future? Hopefully a new YYYs album and tour soon will allow us to see Karen’s next fascinating fashion step!

T.F.A. xx

                                    Karen in her opera, Stop the Virgens.

Joy's designs for Stop the Virgens.

                                          The staging for the opera.

                                          Some of Karen's style hilights: Her leather 'KO' Jacket,
                                          channeling Chanel chic with her bandmembers, and her
                                          psychedelic native american attire.

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