Street Style Before Street Style: Patti Smith
The best at blazers, turtlenecks, men's shirts and leather jackets, we look back at her style and shop the look.
Patti Smith's debut record Horses has to be one of the most iconic album covers of all time. Shot by longtime romantic-come-platonic partner, the late Robert Mapplethorpe, here is a woman without make-up and with messy hair, her pose either approachable or adamant, wearing a men's shirt and braces, jacket slung over her shoulder James Dean style.
Fusing poetry with rock and roll, Patti's sense of style has always been as wild and androgynous as her music. In both of these elements of her life — style and music — she has appropriated things typically associated with the opposite sex. As a front woman, she is untamed, her songs thinly-veiled spoken word performance pieces that are intense and demanding of attention. She did not stand on stage to look pretty and she needed no gimmicks. In fashion, she also found an affinity with masculinity. Breton stripes, turtlenecks, scraggly coats, utilitarian boots, ripped jeans, leather motorcycle jackets, and, of course, her signature button-up shirts have all become emblematic of her style.
In a 2010 New York Times interview Patti said, "My style says 'Look at me, don't look at me.' It's, 'I don't care what you think.'...Even as a child, I knew what I didn't want. I didn't want to wear red lipstick. When my mother would say, 'You should shave your legs,' I would ask, 'Why?' I didn't understand why we had to present a different picture of ourselves to the outside world."
Despite her decidedly punk attitude, as a child Patti gazed wistfully at the pages of Vogue and Harpers and is well-versed in the realm of fashion. During a show following Alexander McQueen's suicide, Patti dedicated one of her most well-known songs, 'Because the Night' to the late designer. She has become a style icon in her own right and a muse to many designers — one of them friend and collaborator Ann Demeulemeester. In 2000, they worked together on the designer's Spring Summer's 'Woolgathering', named after Patti's autobiographical novelette of the same title, where her prose was embroidered on garments. Another collaboration for Fall 2006 saw a menswear collection described by Tim Blanks as "pagan glamour."
When our Market Editor Ana Ifould was living in New York, she would regularly see Patti around the neighbourhood. "When her film [Dream of Life] was released, it showed for two weeks and she would often be there, and when I was there she stood up at the end to talk about it. It was a really poignant moment, of feeling so connected with the city. I'd see Kim Gordon and her walking around and it didn't feel real... It showed that the energy of what she represents in terms of New York still happens."
Living in downtown New York in the 70s, Patti would scour second hand stores to find one-of-a-kind oddities and could make thrifted items look perfectly appropriate. With this spirit in mind, Ana has scoured the internet and put together this selection of wares that would make Patti proud.
Patti's new album Banga will be out on June 8.