Amy Winehouse: Style Icon

Obviously, while I was on holiday, some pretty shitty stuff happened.

Amy Winehouse’s death has been picked over like a leftover Sunday roast, so I don’t want to bore you with any of my own armchair psychologist theories about her personality flaws and addiction issues.

I just wanted to devote a blog post to Amy’s style, because if I didn’t, I’d be ignoring the death of a girl who was certainly a style icon to me.

Like most people, I really started to notice Winehouse when she reinvented herself as a walking trademark, with the beehive, the tats, the ballet shoes and a choice of Jessica Rabbit-esque body con, or polo shirt and skinny jeans.

Where Amy’s cartoon styling was brash it was also unique; pretty and tomboyish in one; elegant and downright dirty, simultaneously. She took on board Russell Brand’s advice (along the lines of, if you want to be famous, make sure you have an instantly recognisable silhouette) and she ran a marathon with it.

I adored her look. Probably because she was doing everything I’d have done myself if I had the guts. I’d love to possess the balls to pile my hair up in a massive beehive every day (I don’t even need the weave) and cover myself in body art. I’d love to make more of a feature of a weeny frame and bust-out clingy dresses when I go down the corner shop. Amy even made a trademark of the unsightly gaps between her upper teeth – I’ve just spent four grand getting those same, gaping crevices closed.

My automated quality control gets in the way of the mad image I would like to project, you see; which probs explains why I don’t share some of the more destructive elements of the late, great Amy’s styling/personality traits either.

It was no surprise to me (or anyone else, surely?) that she inspired the Paris-Londres Maison d’Art show in London in 2007 and was described as a ‘style icon’ by Karl Lagerfeld. Her retro look encapsulated the noughties, really. While we were all struggling for an anchor, and trying desperately to resist the fast-fashion that has now, sadly, taken over, there was nothing hurried about Amy’s style; she was steadfast. Same with her music. It’s what made her so blimmin’ great, and such a beacon in a decade that was stylistically all over the place.

From the charcoal eyes to her humongous hair, Amy Winehouse blazed a trail that was utterly derivative, borrowed from heroes and heroines of the past. But she gave it a stamp that made it achingly contemporary. Perhaps it was her bad behaviour, in contrast to those pretty pumps and dainty dresses, that made it so real and flippin’ effective. You could copy just one tiny thing, one cheeky tattoo, or even an anchor-print dress, and it gave you a little buzz – a little bit of her charisma and her punch-you-in-the-face-soon-as-look-at-you London charm.

Yes, she was rough and she was rude and her very public personal life was a constant source of morbid fascination, but she also had more ‘girl power’ in her Monroe piercing than every girl band of the nineties put together.

That’s why I loved Amy. 10 years my junior, but I was wholly influenced by her sassy style. And the last time I saw her in the flesh, winding up her entourage of funky-looking bodyguards outside the American Embassy in March 2011, she really did look happy and healthy and so ridiculously ‘Amy Winehouse’ that I couldn’t help staring, open-mouthed and utterly in awe.

In her prime: Amy sings ‘Rehab’ live on Letterman:

Written by Johanna Payton