Off The Rails - Debbie Harry

Celebrity wardrobes exposed
DH-fashion.jpg
Debbie Harry sits calm and composed in her London hotel room. Tonight she’ll be playing a charity gig in Hammersmith. When asked who she’ll be performing with, she coyly grins, “Oh, just a bunch of old farts.” Those old farts, it turned out, were The Who, Jeff Beck and Richard Ashcroft. The legendary front woman clearly holds her ground among the predominantly male rock ‘n’ roll scene and is no doubt recognised as one of the world’s greatest and most beautiful rock chicks.

Now sixty-five, those infamous cheek bones and doe eyes are still every bit as captivating as they were in her youth. She is talking to Clash and unveiling her treasured and best-loved garments acquired over the years; “Almost like a show and tell,” she smiles. A close friend is poised elegantly by her side, in a large pair of shades. The two have evidently shared many good times together, as when Harry pulls various items from her suitcase they reminisce excitedly: “Remember these...?” she begins, admiring a pair of 1990's worn velour, Kenzo floral print gloves, and a puzzling debate follows as to where she must have picked them up.

Harry is not into labels and never has been. Her favourite purse is a small, lace cloth bag, covered in satin roses from Oxfam, which cost about £7. She taps her feet as she tries to think of her oldest most treasured belonging. “Oh, I guess one of the Stephen Sprouse dresses, the little black dress,” she offers, explaining it became one of her staple items. “I wore it for everything, with the thigh-high black boots and black tights.” She met the designer in the late-Seventies, living in the same building in the Bowery, New York. “He had been working for Halston at the time so had access to some of their collection, which I also wore a lot of.”

Debbie has compiled quite an archive of clothing over the years and always finds it hard to pack when going on tour. “Do I travel light?” she asks. “Never! I travel really ridiculous.” She recently cleaned out her closet to create some space and mentions giving away “a pair of ferocious Sprouse leggings with a camouflage pattern” at a charity auction. “I thought, ‘Oh god, how could you have done that! I mean I’m not sad that the charity made some money though.”

As she rifles through her suitcase she pulls out an assortment of items; her iconic thigh-high Sprouse boots, some vibrant red Todd Thomas trousers, a necklace with a raven pendant bought from the airport, and some gold brogues that were a gift from Office.

Though difficult to believe, she appears naïve in the acknowledgement of how much her style has influenced generations of youth culture. She is somehow unexpectedly demure and quite modest as she speaks of her career and fashions over the years.

She revels in recounting the incarnations of NYC venue Max’s Kansas City, when the shift from Max’s in the ’60s to the mid-’70s brought in more musicians. Harry was among the many legends to have socialised at the notorious club. “We were all crazy, I think sort of obsessed - obsessed with the rock dream, the big...” she gestures and makes an exploding sound. Amid the decadent glamour of a city moving to its own sound, the Blondie star was born, and she still looks amazing.

Blondie’s new album ‘Panic Of Girls’ is released as part of a Future Fan Pack on May 30th. Blondie are touring this summer: for more details visit www.blondie.net

Words by Camilla Felici
Photo by Bella Howard

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