Caz McKinnon continues our semi-regular feature, exploring the relationship between music and a particular fashion trend.
The year is 1976. A British American folk rock band are about to perform their single ‘Rhiannon’ to a live crowd at a taped performance. The front woman approaches the microphone and emphatically mutters that the song they’re about to perform “is about an old Welsh witch”. She is wearing a black, floor-length dress with a crocheted lace finish; her arms are covered by chiffon bell sleeves so sheer that the chunky silver bangles she wears underneath flicker in the dim light. Her mane of sunkissed blonde hair is shaggy and untamed and her eyes have a striking outline of black kohl around them as she belts out the lyrics to the song in a voice that is simultaneously girly and rough. The band are Fleetwood Mac. The front woman is Stevie Nicks.
‘Rhiannon’ charted at 11 in the UK and would be remembered as a song indicative of Fleetwood Macs’ 1970’s sound: simplistic guitar riffs, a stripped-back rhythm section and contrasting folk lead vocals by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. That being said, it was arguably Stevie Nicks’ witchy fashion sense paired with her emblematic performance that gave the band their iconic status.
When music stopped being purely for entertainment and became about creative individualism in the late 1950’s, an overlapping connection between music and fashion was born. What’s really amazing about this relationship is when the artist’s image goes on not to just define a trend but a timeless style that will encounter countless fashion cycles over long periods of time. Grace Jones’ high-top hairstyle, David Bowie’s colour-blocking suits or, in this case, Stevie Nicks’ boho chic.
Boho chic is typically an aesthetic comprised of loose-fitting blouses, oversized hats, torn denim, lace stitching and feminine floor-length skirts. It’s a style made for long sunny days and tends to make an appearance each summer. Contemporary fashion figures like Sienna Miller, Cara Delevigne and Mary-Kate Olsen don the same casual, effortlessly chic style that Stevie Nicks introduced to the mainstream forty years ago.
What ultimately gives Stevie Nick’s boho chic look icon status is how the music she creates compliments the artistry she puts into her image. The character that Stevie Nicks calls on often in her music from 1972 until now is a character who is often pensive, introspective, looking towards the future; her clothes evoke the same poetic connotations, the wisps of her tulle skirt grazing the stage that she stomps on with her platform boots in a feminine paradox between fanciful flower girl and angsty rock witch.
She manages to encapsulate the sense of wonder and wistfulness that boho chic explores. As with any fashion trend there needs to be room for experimentation, mystery and possibility. The imagined magic of Stevie Nicks’ inspired boho chic has these factors in abundance. This, I believe, is the reason for its longevity as a style and certainly one of the reasons Nicks holds the credit for bringing it to the mainstream.