An article in the New York Times offers an affectionate tribute to Amy Winhouse’s style, giving her credit for creating a unique look based on several Bad-Girl templates.
The article reminded me of how many girls still try to imitate Bettie Page. There are millions of clones out there with dyed black bangs and deep red lipstick, all going for the same trampy rockabilly look. With all due respect, it’s a look I’m really sick of. I think it should be saved for Halloween or costume parties.
The article also led me to the work of Karlheinz Weinberger, a Swiss photographer whose pictures of sleazy hooligans and teenage delinquents made him famous among artists and intelligentsia. Looking at his work, I finally undertand the aesthetic that Gnarlitude Jen and her ilk are so infatuated with.
Biker paraphernalia, big messy hair, tough sullen expressions, it’s all there in Weinberger’s old photos. It’s a look that I personally affected when I was around twelve years old, trying to copy the tough Mexican gang girls who represented rebellion. By fourteen, though, I was over it.
Today, the only way to be a style rebel would be to dress inconspicuously.
Still, I’m happy to remember Amy as an original force in style as well as music. Her mixture of 50s and 60s influences, punk, pin-up, tough, girlie, retro and rapper, added up to something fresh, defiant and irresistible.
God bless her, and all bad girls everywhere.