Early 2000s FashionJanuary 8, 2024
Late 90s and early 2000s fashion were notable for their playfulness, experimentation and questioning of fashion as a pursuit of conventional beauty. There were concepts such as “Final Home”, a label that produced clothing that could be worn in case of natural disaster, unemployment, war or refugee status. Rei Kawakubo produced awkwardly padded shapes for Comme des Garçons, and the Belgian designer Walter van Beirendonck’s AW 2005 collection was simply entitled “Weird”.
Pop stars in crop tops, mini skirts, low rise jeans, and denim skirts graced the red carpet in the early 2000s. Fashion trends of the early aughts saw Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears in trucker hats showing their belly buttons. Juicy Couture, Von Dutch and Alexander McQueen were the top brands.
London Club Kids escaped fashion for their own codes of dressing up, which of course spawned high fashion imitators, particularly Christopher Kane, and Gareth Pugh came up through the club scene himself. He used many of his friends as models for his London Fashion Week catwalk shows. Though this was an exciting prospect for many of them, image conscious as they were, several were disappointed as his designs tended to either distort the body, obscure the face, or both.
Early 2000s fashion and the Club-Kid Influence
An up-and-coming singer called Paloma Faith noticed the talent from this crowd and commissioned costumes and stage sets for her increasingly elaborate performances. Faith wanted to to look interesting, different, and always gorgeous. Petra Storrs made her an incredible metal dress which was fabricated in a bell-like shape. The set and costume designer also made the singer another in paper, which must have been lighter to wear. Lighter still was a jumpsuit with enormous helium balloons attached, the Blimp Suit. This was worn for a performance at Glastonbury
To crown this, by the mid-late 2000s, Lady Gaga started to work with those creatives, claiming a lot of the credit and certainly the cachet for her crazy looks and outlook that were created or inspired by other people.
Lady Gaga and her Flock of Creatives
I fondly remember the artist Millie Brown. Her art consisted of a performance of drinking milkshakes which were tinted different vibrant colours, which she then threw up over canvasses or t-shirts. They made splashy early 2000s fashion designs. She once did this, to her great joy, while sitting on Lady Gaga’s knee. And it’s funny, because Lady Gaga’s music is not experimental at all, in fact, it’s always been very conventional and mainstream. Neither is it the kind of rave music that the club kids needed.
But they did enjoy working with her, and she was well-known in those circles before she became mainstream famous. When she did, shortly after releasing her debut album in 2008, she moved on to a more well-known stylist and slicker styles. Nicola Formichetti styled her and Nick Knight photographed her. So unlike, say, Björk, who has unconventional style built into her psyche, and the music to match, Lady Gaga evolved out of it whilst retaining the cachet it lent her.
Bjork in Early 2000s Fashion
Björk had risen to fame well before Lady Gaga, in the 80s with her band the Sugarcubes. In the 90s she embarked on a solo career. Her style was always ethereal and eccentric. Her early 2000s fashion was no different.
Björk released three albums in the 2000s. They were Vespertine, in 2001, Medúlla, in 2004, and Volta, in 2007. In 2000 she also starred in the Lars Von Trier film Dancer in the Dark, which was rather unexpected. She was incredible in it, and hauntingly sad. In some ways it showed that her rather ditsy public persona was not her whole personality. She gave the character of Selma, a factory worker slowly going blind, a great believability.
At the premiere for the film in Cannes she wore a beautiful pink tulle dress. Thich had a transparent bodice decorated with sequinned flowers, and a skirt formed from layers like a Christmas decoration. Well before the advent of Molly Goddard’s baby-doll ensembles, this child-like yet avant-garde ensemble was rather outré.
Interesting Outfit Choices
Her personal style within early 2000s fashion is hard to categorise, other than as some have said as broadly “weird”. But she loves layering, ruffles, transparency, and volume, and often plays with colour. She’s always tried out different hairstyles and makeup, sometimes intended to be pretty and sometimes deliberately clashing and challenging. The singer and actor also wore headpieces and masks since the early days.
Björk won the Best Actress Award for her role in Dancer in the Dark at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for her song, I’ve Seen It All. It was on the red carpet for the Oscars where she made a great stir, wearing a dress in the shape of a swan. Its head and neck were draped around her neck. Its body was formed by a beautiful tulle skirt. Björk proceeded to lay a few eggs on the red carpet, too.
Early 2000s Fashion on the Red Carpet
At the 2001 Golden Globes, Björk wore an outfit featuring Michael Jackson’s face made in sequins. For a bag, she clutched a rhinestoned owl. The press reacted not with joy to her outfits but with mocking and disdain. But come on, this is Björk, what did you expect her to wear? Not conventional black tie, that’s for sure. However, in these later years the outfits took their proper places in fashion’s canon.
But although this was great fun and she had a great time at her Oscars performance, perhaps the directorial experience with Lars Von Trier put her off. She had only been in one film before, 1990’s The Juniper Tree. Following that, there were two since. One of which was an art film made by her partner Matthew Barney in 2005. And one, a big Hollywood epic, The Norseman, made this year, 2022.