Kim Gordon is not only one of the most definitive musicians of our generation, she is a bona fide style icon too – something that is heightened by the combustible notion of paradox. She is not slavish to fashion, but has powerful friends in the industry, she talks of it from an outsider’s distance, yet is feted by designers, magazines and beyond.
Perhaps it’s because, apart from her transgressive talent and obvious intelligence, she has the bewitching energy of empowerment. When Gordon wears a garment, she gives it meaning beyond shopping – like she’s recharging it somehow. And that is when the power of true style takes hold.
One of rock’s ultimate polymaths, renaissance woman Gordon is entering her fourth decade in pop culture. From the fucked-up tunings and feedback of Sonic Youth – primitive = early period; sprawling = mid; on a leash = most recent – to numerous leftfield music projects, producing, directing, acting, her other band Free Kitten, her work as a fine artist and fashion collaborator, she’s steered a creative output so rich that even dissertations are dedicated to her.
Though her mother made clothes from home (“weird kaftans and things like that”) Gordon’s career within fashion culture began with Daisy von Furth at X-Girl in 1994, the sister label of the Mike D (of Beastie Boys) interest X-Large. “It was a pretty frustrating experience,” she remembers honestly. “Things never really came out the way we wanted – hugely too small or big, limited by budget and we didn’t know what we were doing either. But, importantly, it was a really great name!” she exclaims.
Since X-Girl’s punchy, urban wardrobe, Gordon has evolved, collaborating with brands in various capacities. There have been T-shirts with Marni, a collection for Sportmax, as well Gordon’s own line Mirror/Dash in 2009. In shops now is Kim Gordon x Surface To Air, S/S ’12 collection for the Paris-based label and creative agency.
“Mostly I was interested in doing day-to-day stuff, though the colour orange (or reddish-orange) is good to wear on stage. I like that their clothes overall have a minimal palette, in terms of the lines and the suggestion to project things on them. Not literally, but in relation to ideas about what fashion is. Their clothes suggest femininity or suggest sexiness or suggest minimalism – without being any of those things.”
Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the Rodarte sisters, are amongst Gordon’s most contemporary high-fashion fans, but there’s another American designer, Marc Jacobs, whom she has enjoyed a friendship with since 1993.
“We met when we did the video for ‘Sugar Kane’ featuring his [Perry Ellis] grunge collection,” Gordon looks back. “We had no idea what it was or what it would become.”
Sonic Youth played more recently at Jacobs’ A/W ’08 show, hammering through ‘Jams Run Free’ and ‘Kool Thing’ as models swanned by magnificently. From the girls’ demeanour, it was clear they were enjoying the most rousing soundtrack of the season. Attendees too got in on the action by enjoying a free tote, printed on one side with Goo’s Raymond Pettibon artwork, the other side MARC JACOBS FALL 2008. Debbie Harry proudly posed with said bag – and this time we’re not talking the watercolour, cookerless, Design Office version.
“I would like to have a distance from myself for the art I do, which is one reason why I want to resurrect [Design Office],” Gordon declares on that subject. “Obviously I want to be able to utilise being who I am, over the last thirty years or something. But I want to control it and not feel controlled by it. I don’t want to be industrialised like Madonna – I mean not that I could be.”
Words by Dean Mayo Davies
Photography by Ari Marcopolous
This is an excerpt of the cover feature of the Clash Fashion Issue, out 9th February. Find out more about the issue HERE.