THIS WEEK, NANCY BUCKLAND KIRK HAS BEEN TAKING INSPIRATION FROM LADY GAGA’S NEW POWER SHOULDER…
It’s a good job I love Lady Gaga, as it is hard to escape her at the moment. If you haven’t seen her monumental performance in A Star Is Born, are you even a His & Hers reader? I first spotted her on an episode of The Hills back when reality TV hadn’t really yet uncovered a Kardashian. She took quite a traditional, old-school route to fame: she was no overnight sensation. But when she arrived, she certainly made an entrance.
Gaga is in a class of her own in every sense, and sometimes the comparisons placed upon her must become difficult. Her beauty is individual, artistic and miles away from what a standard music executive would order up if they were creating a perfect pop star. Her style is impossible to define. She rarely does understated and yet, in A Star Is Born, it suits her wonderfully. But her choice to wear a dress made out of a butcher’s off cuts is who she is in real life.
This week, Lady Gaga made headlines as part of Elle USA’s Women In Hollywood event, which has applauded women in the industry, led by the magazine’s powerhouse editor, Nina Garcia. It certainly has ruffled a few film feathers, that’s for sure. In a time of such cultural change, Lady Gaga took to the stage to speak not in one of her out-there creations, but in an oversized Marc Jacobs trouser suit.
It has been described in the press as a moment in feminist history. I think to give that power, literally, to a suit, is to take in the image without hearing the speech. Power dressing is nothing new. I had a few suits like that, back in the day, one of which still languishes in the back of my wardrobe as I can’t bear to part with it. But the difference between power dressing in the 1980’s and what Lady Gaga chose to wear earlier this week is tremendous. Back then, the whole notion of having a wardrobe for work which you wore like armour had more historic connotations. It was shown off in films like Working Girl, and of course, Mrs. Thatcher didn’t quite throw on a pair of pants but she took the message to the max. And the message was clear: I will take any man on, because I am just as good as him. At the time, it was a vital piece of communication. The Equal Pay Act was still quite fresh, the country was coming out of the grips of recession, and young women were the daughters of women who had fought for some hard won freedoms.
Lady Gaga talked about her outfit in her speech. She said she had rejected the idea of dresses, in order to wear the trousers. She nodded to the fact that she was tired of an industry that treated women as though they were still in a beauty pageant. But they were just the introductions. What she did then was use that powerful voice to talk about her darkest vulnerability, and how she has lived with it and tried to overcome it. She has already made a powerful Neflix documentary about this side of her life. Now she was speaking in public, and that’s where the decades flew by. She was saying that she was wearing something powerful, whilst revealing her true identity. It was one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard.
What does this mean, though, if you are not a Woman In Hollywood? What if you are from Halifax or Hull? How do you make a bit of your own statement without a Marc Jacobs budget? For the first time ever, we are not talking about fashion as a way to garner attention or to win likes. It’s about having choices, making them to suit yourself, and being able to talk honestly about who you are. Maybe you won’t be doing it on a world stage, but you can when you are meeting your friends, talking to your partner, or even with your colleagues.
Purely from a fashion standpoint, a trouser suit is always a great idea. You can’t go wrong in Next, and Reiss is always a sure-fire winner. You might want to make it more fitted, or you can go for the Gaga effect if you want to. But you can still put on your make-up and if you want statement hair, go for it. If you want to wear it loose, it always looked the part on Katherine Hepburn, who was no slouch in the power dressing stakes herself.
It’s 2018 and in a world where so much change is happening, some of it enlightening and some of it downright jaw-clenchingly challenging, take a cue from The First Lady of Music. Whatever you put on, be it an oversized jacket or a fitted cocktail dress, the very best way forward is to literally wear your heart on your sleeve. Whatever attention that may be bring, you can never argue with the truth. Accessorise with an orange lip, a dose of bravery and a whole heap of talent, to really make your look one to remember. Whether on a world stage or in your spare room mirror, fashion is a vital part of who you are. Accept no restrictions and hear your own voice first and foremost: that’s what real equality is all about.
This article is dedicated to two hugely inspiring women l am lucky to have known: my late mum, Doreen Buckland, and Jean Hill, the genius behind a lot of the pieces you will read on His & Hers.
About the author: Nancy Buckland Kirk is a writer with a keen interest in fashion and beauty and a career which has spanned modelling, teaching and spreading the word about leading beauty brands.
Related feature: Nancy’s take on All Saints’ comeback.