Hurray! The ‘Top of the Pops’ 1970s reruns are back, and this year the focus is on 1978. The introductory series ‘The Story of 1978’ was shown on BBC4 last night and got my very excited about this years focus, as it was the year that two of my absolute, all time style icons really found fame. I’m talking of course about Blondie’s Debbie Harry and the inimitable, unique Kate Bush.
These two ladies helped change the perception of female singers. Not mere puppets or sex objects, they were woman in control, talented females whose music and personal style have stood the test of time. Kate was just 18 when she rocketed to number one with the incredible ‘Wuthering Heights’, her strange, ethereal singing style so different from anything that had come before. She combined this with a look that was decidedly boho, almost gypsyish, with acres of scarves and floaty materials, along with pieces that looked forward to the early 1980s dance obsession. Kate was an otherworldly beauty, sort of girl next door, but only if you were lucky enough to live next door to one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her look and temperamental talent has influenced a generation of singers, notably Natasha Khan of Bats for Lashes, and also singers like PJ Harvey.
Debbie Harry found fame when she was in her 30s, after years of playing in venues like CBGB’S in New York. Her music was a melodic version of punk/New Wave, and Debbie’s eye-catching looks soon caught the attention of the music buying public. Rumours swirled that she was the illegitimate daughter of Marilyn Monroe, with her blue eyes, peroxide blonde hair and bee stung lips. I loved Debbie’s style as a young girl because she decided not to conform to any set image, at home in a gorgeous white cocktail dress a la Parallel Lines album cover as she was in a beaten up leather jacket. Never just the pretty front (Blondie is a group was one of their slogans), Debbie was a strong role model for me growing up, one who showed that being beautiful and feminine could be used in a powerful way.
I salute my 70s icons of style and beauty.
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