Weird and Wonderful Women Musicians
(Who Eat Lady Gaga For Breakfast)
Bands & Projects: X Ray Spex
Time and Place:1970s London
Quote: If anybody tried to make me [a sex symbol] I’d shave my head tomorrow.
Poly Styrene was barely twenty-one when her band, X Ray Spex, released their only album, Germfree Adolescents. The lyrics, written by Styrene, confronted consumerism, ageism, human relationships and “the sales machine.”
Sartorial Style: Poly Styrene ran her own, eponymous fashion label in her late teens. It failed to break even or get off the ground; however, she had a lot of fun with it and created very interesting clothes. From an interview:
I would go to the DIY store and buy sink chain, which doesn’t tarnish and is quite shiny and chrome plated. I would also buy plastic tubing and then I would run the sink through the plastic tubing, and turn them into chokers and ankle and arm bracelets. It was funny, because I had people like Marianne Faithfull, Amanda Donohoe and Paula Yates coming in and buying them. I am sure that they didn’t know that I had bought it at the DIY store…
One of my friends, Sophie Horgan, was at fashion school. I designed some things and she made them for me. There was an eggs and bacon dress, which we did just for a laugh. We went down to Peter Jones and I bought some vinyl table cloth fabric. I then asked Sophie to applique an eggs and bacon design like a working man’s greasy fry up on it. I thought that it would be funny to put it on a dress, especially as I was a vegetarian and I didn’t eat stuff like that. (source)
Styrene closed down the boutique, since the band was taking off and she had to choose one or the other. But her fashion sense didn’t just stop on a dime once she took up with the band. Press photos and videos from that time show Styrene wearing proto-Ghost World outfits, such as a bright blue pantsuit, army helmets, black leather soldier’s caps, and handmade, A-Line dresses in interesting patterned and shiny fabrics.
Styrene had an afro, which she accessorized with hats, helmets, head wraps and ribbons.
Styrene’s most famous accessories were doubtless her braces. Though in her late teens and early twenties, Styrene’s braces made her look much younger and, somehow, more threatening.