Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Flashback



The Story of the Supremes, an upcoming V&A exhibition of the performance costumes of the seminal girl-group, makes it pretty clear that it's not just Marge Simpson that Amy Winehouse is channelling. The beehives and the beestung lips, the doll-like get-ups and the larger-than-life voices: it's there in grainy black-and-white stills of Diana and co from the early 1960s, and in a million grainy YouTube clips of Amy circa 2008. Winehouse uses the retro image to position herself in a roll call of female singing icons dating back to Ross and beyond, and distance herself from the world of contemporary throwaway pop. But no amount of hairspray can disguise how much the pop world has changed in four and a half decades: while the Story of the Supremes tells an old-fashioned tale, from the first album cover with its Woolworths pearls to the days of Bob Mackie gowns, the Amy show has been all about downfall, not rise. If the Story of the Supremes is about how to construct female fame, Winehouse, vulnerable in her overexposed body and unsteady on her five-inch heels, is about how vulnerable female stars really are.


Guardian

13 comments:

Badaude said...

Why the Winehouse obsession?
xb

Anonymous said...

I thought more the Ronettes. I remember showing my 15 year old daughter a You Tube clip of them when Winehouse started to get popular. There's nothing new under the sun.

Geri

Toby Wollin said...

I'm of an age that when I look at Winehouse, what I see is not the Supremes..but the pictures of the girls in my older sister's high school yearbooks from the 60s, who emulated that look - not very successfully, I might add and in a very "we're a thousand miles away and a lot of money away" fashion. But they did try. This is especially true when Miss Winhouse opens her mouth and shows off her dental work - or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

Winehouse's vulgarity makes me weep for the next generation - she makes Tracey Emin look like a real lady!

Kelly said...

Amy Winehouse really looked good with the emulation for a hot minute. I don't know what happened, but lately she's just been...ugh.

There was a time, though, when she pulled it off beautifully.

Duchesse said...

The Supremes had deportment lessons; now the singers have stylists, but no one's working on the behaviour side.

Susan said...

I agree with Kelly, Amy did pull her look off beautifully to start with - and then she started getting those vile tattoos.

I noticed she had to cover up the topless woman tattoo on her left arm when she was on American TV, by drawing a bikini top onto it.

phyllis said...

Amy's fashion choices are not the problem – her drug abuse is the problem. I've always kind of liked her campy beehive and Sharpie eyeliner, but to pull this off this look you need to be healthy, like Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson of the B-52's.

Anonymous said...

While I love all the classic girl groups, Amy is something more. She's a real musician. She has got it. So sad to see her pissing a great talent away.

(FWIS, her look isn't so much the Motown/Barry Gordy lady, but the New York/Philly tough girl look.)

-- desertwind

PS - I saw the Supremes at the Allentown State Fair in 1968. It was thrilling.

Anonymous said...

I agree - 'Back to Black' is brilliant. She seemed to model herself on the the tragic chanteuses of the past, wilfully aping their abuse. Unfortunately the game went wrong and now she can't seem to get back on track.

Geri

Anonymous said...

We live in a liberal age where we stand by and watch a beautiful young talented fellow human being gradually lose control. Have we gone too far?

Ms Baroque said...

Anonymous, well what are we going to do about Amy Winehouse? Hang around in Camden waiting to catch her as she arrives home at 3am?

It has always been perfectly possible for someone to live this way - look at the so-called Gay nineties of 110 years ago - if they so choose. I would just hope that in our era it may be easier for Amy to get back on track if she so chooses, as we now have much better rehab facilities etc.

I too think she is a huge talent. And it is awful how far off the rails she is. (An it's equally awful in a different way, her having to draw a bikini top on her tattoo in America! What is that about !?!) And all the girls love her.

Belle de Ville said...

Sorry to be snarky but you would think that with the money she has made at least she would do something about her teeth.