Style. It’s a little word that packs a punch. It encompasses fundamental elements of history, culture and the more individual things like our tastes and personal preferences. But it begins in our formative years, in our childhoods. There are so many style icons I can recall. All have come together and influenced the sense of style I carry with me today.
My mum has always been incredibly fashionable, creating her own garments with traditional African fabrics, always tending to her appearance with a creative streak. Being a young child, my style was to a large extent controlled, but the variety, the colour, the different variations my mum let me try sparked my creativity. Soon enough, we would be going on shopping sprees and without even knowing I, as a little girl, would develop my own intimate taste.
Browsing through clothes in stores, I was mainly attracted to colour and flamboyant materials, but it was more than just picking the shiniest crown out of the dressing-up box. One memory that stood out to me was when I went digging through my mum’s wardrobe. I found an opalescent, sequined sleeveless turtleneck. I was just so drawn to the piece – I tried it on. Unsurprisingly, it fit my child body like a dress. From then on (and even now) I echoed my mum’s originality, marching forward with my personal style journey and finding my next style icon on a TV screen…
As I grew older, I would watch the Disney channel; that’s when I discovered iconic tv show – ‘That’s So Raven’. Wildly confident, fashionable and free-spirited, Raven was the first fashion icon I found in the media that somewhat resembled- well, me. She was also the first person I ever encountered that truly viewed fashion as more that the garments, but an actual art form in itself. She wanted to become a Fashion Designer herself, starting her career as an intern for Donna Cabonna.
Raven carried her distinctive style like an extension of herself: she didn’t care what others thought of her and flaunted her passion proudly. One moment that’s engraved in my memory is the episode that handled the issue of body image. At that time, I had never really thought about my own body image, but I am glad that the message Raven sent was a positive one. Her confidence in her style, authentic love for her craft and ethos that fashion is for everyone has made her one of my favourite childhood icons. With a new-found confidence within myself, I began to experiment with gender-dressing, wearing men’s attire as my next icon did…
As a teenager, I found myself glued to the screen watching british coming-of-age show – Skins. In season 5, I was swiftly introduced to Frankie – an introverted spirit who loved to dress in an androgynous manner. There was a rebelliousness about being able to wear things my parents, my siblings and even my friends would frown upon or think was too ‘out there‘. Having seen how cool it was to blur and play at the intersection where both gender and fashion stood, I set out to explore it myself. At first, I wanted to express my teenage rebellion through my clothing, purposefully choosing menswear as a means of doing so. However, I found myself truly appreciating the difference in the fit and feel of men’s clothing.
My favourite element to experiment with were patterns, namely tartan and check ones. Adding colour to my outfits made it more fun and more ‘Punk‘. Wearing fake facial piercings to sixth form, you would find me draped in heavy leather coats or my trademark green mac with patent boots. Buying men’s clothing was always a playful process, opening my eyes to see fashion as fashion; they’re all just metres upon metres of material, at the end of the day. Franky’s gender-neutral style felt freeing to me, not being stuffed into an orthodox box. My favourite piece was a men’s tartan blazer that I had bought from a vintage website. Soon after I found a new aspect to my style, I encountered my next icon nestled in another part of the world…
KYARY PAMYU PAMYU
My style was developing and so were my other interests. During my later teen years, I particularly became fascinated with Japanese culture, even wanting to study it at degree level. Through this, I found J-Pop and by extension, Japanese fashion. It was zany, unapologetic and unique: I found a part of myself in the street style of Harajuku. The unbridled diversity of the street style is what drew me to it, but seeing Kyary Pamyu Pamyu showcase her own flair made me want to try it too.
Her kitsch sensibilities and brightly off-beat style showed her individuality and a new side to fashion I hadn’t seen before. The playfulness of the styling and costumes were larger than life, making fashion a performance that deserved all the praises. I found myself creating looks, crafting them to a T, really thinking about my fashion inspiration. Sometimes I’d spend more than an hour looking at different iterations, from Sweet Lolita to Visual Kei, thinking about how I could mix and match them into my wardrobe. After saving enough pocket money, I managed to buy a Lolita style dress that was denim blue with a print of bears on a carousel.
Each of my fashion icons taught me something valuable, from opening myself up to fashion and being confident in myself, to experimenting with it in a variety of ways. Though all have very different styles, they have shaped and formed mine. I am especially grateful to my mum, because without her creative spirit, I would have never felt a genuine connection to fashion from a young age. It’s important to remember style never stops. It’s a live record of all the things you want to be, all the things you want to express and all the things you feel. Ultimately, I hope I can keep seeking out myself through this journey- the evolution of style.
Words by louise worthington
FASHION EDITOR – CHARIS CRAWFORD CORRI
Disclaimer- all images used within this article have been sourced from Google Images. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd. does not own the copyright to the images within this article. All rights reserved.