[Written by Lily Kuenzler ]
[Image Credits: 1. Thelma and Louise: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 2. Sex and The City: HBO 3. Images of Princess Nokia: @princessnokia (instagram)]
Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise has two of my all time most iconic movie moments: the first is when the women are driving their turquoise Cadillac over the edge of the Grand Canyon. The second is when Geena Davis appears on screen wearing a ripped biker’s t-shirt, washed-out jeans and the cap of the pervert whose lorry they just blew up. This film is my style bible, and I would gladly wear every single one of both Thelma and Louise’s outfits from start to finish – and they change a lot. At the beginning of their journey, Thelma and Louise look like the perfect picture of domestic small-town American life, down to Sarandon’s perfect shade of red lipstick and Davis’ blue eyeshadow. But as the film progresses, and they get further away from this life, driving head-on into a world of rebellion and outlaw, their outfits also change. The women’s faces become dusty and sun-tanned, their skirts are swapped for jeans and they rip their shirt sleeves. That’s why Davis’ outfit at the end is one of my favourites; it is a complete expression of freedom, fun, rebellion and self.
This is a great segue into Sex And The City. Love or loathe Carrie’s style, you can’t deny she has guts. For me, sometimes this works, for example her bandeau and cow-boy hat combo which I adore, and sometimes it doesn’t, like the mysterious belt hovering around her midriff. But that’s not really the point. The point is that all four of the characters use their style as a way to stand out and stand up for themselves – and always with a sense of joy and fun. Sex And The City was pioneering in that it gave women power and agency over their bodies and sexuality in a way that hadn’t been done before. Although some of the feminism does seem outdated today, I think we still have to acknowledge just how groundbreaking it was to have a show centered around four women talking about things like orgasms and sex toys on screen. And their clothes are a huge part of these women expressing and taking ownership over their sexuality. Every time I watch Sex In The City, regardless of whether I would wear the outfits or not, I’m inspired by just how fearless these women are with their fashion, and how much fun they have with it because of that. It inspires me to try that jeans/skirt combo that my flatmates begged me not the leave the house in because, whether it’s hideous or whether it’s kinda great, I’m having fun either way.
Today, my queen of fashion rebellion is Destiny Frasqueri, AKA Princess Nokia. Refusing to fit into any one style of music, or prescribed female aesthetic, she admits: “A big reason why I wrote 1992 Deluxe, [her debut album] was because I was like man, everyone around me is a fucking glamazon and I just can’t get it no matter how much I want to.” So, she created her own style – a mash-up of the punks she loved seeing in the streets of New York during her youth, and the baggy street-style she found later. And it is precisely her refusal to comply to fashion and beauty standards that makes her style so gorgeous: “I don’t mind looking a little crazy, looking a little smelly. It’s just me. My ugliness was my shield of beauty because it was strong and I could own it and make it beautiful.” In her latest single, released just last week, Balenciaga, Frasqueri proclaims: “I dress for myself, you dress for the likes.” Like Thelma and Louise and Carrie Bradshaw, Princess Nokia uses her fashion to let herself be her most free self – beyond the oppression or gaze of society. To me, that is aspirational. What’s more, in the song she brags about how she can make her put together thrift-store fashion look like it’s Prada.
I’m a huge fan or charity shops and second hand clothes. This up-cycling of clothes that Princess Nokia raves about, is also present in Thelma and Louise. Thelma rips the sleeves off a denim shirt to make it a much cooler vest. Louise uses the cut-offs from the shirt to make herself a denim necktie to replace her jewelry. Along the road they pick up old pieces of clothes from the people they meet and make them their own. In Balenciaga Princess Nokia asks: “Is that retail? Or is that resale? I look so fly, you can’t even tell.” In every way this stands up against modern trends in fast fashion and champions finding individual style in unexpected places. Although Thelma and Louise was filmed before environmentally conscious fashion really took off, it nonetheless encourages finding new ways to re-vamp old clothes, instead of simply replacing them with something freshly bought. In Balenciaga, Princess Nokia calls for “imagination”. For my own style, I try and personalise things wherever possible. And this is easier than you think – I’m a pretty rubbish sewer, but I’m a good tearer. I had a pair of dungarees that I got a huge stain on – I thought they were ruined, until I decided to cover them all over in splats of paint so the stain blended in. When it comes to accessories, it’s my personal opinion that there’s nothing that can’t be improved by a bit of superglue and some rhinestones, glitter or googly eyes. And even though pretty much everyone I know and love has begged me to burn my laptop case, I don’t care, because it’s mine, I had loads of fun doing it and I like a bit of tack. In the end, it’s totally up to you what you do with your style, and that’s the beauty of it: it’s completely yours.