Spice Girls: Girl Power and Fashion

Craig Lomas

Well where do I start? At the very beginning, like Julie Andrews taught me.I graduated with a degree in Fashion Design in 2009 and have since set up my own bespoke clothing label.Currently working full time as a costume designer.My main passion is buying things I don't need... I WANT!

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Bursting onto the music scene in 1996, the Spice Girls not only redefined ‘Girl Power’ they also influenced a generation of fashion. Sky-high platform boots last seen in the 70s and a playful style put these five young women at the top of an influential 90s set. From album to album, they proved that a continually evolving image was not only a clever marketing strategy, but also allowed their many fans to confidently experiment with fashion too.

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From the beginning each member had her very own sense of style, which cemented their signature monikers – Posh, Ginger, Baby, Scary and Sporty. Whether it was a leopard print catsuit or platform boots, they made their mark not only on 90s fashion but also on today’s fresh experimenters, who look back to the 90s for their vintage fix.

I was 10 when ‘Wannabe’ was released and I remember the electric  hype around the group. Their songs brought friends together, to mimic dance moves and put on school concerts (just me then?). A big part of the fun was trying to mimic the Spice Girls’ looks. Soon girls (and a few boys) were wearing Union Jack jersey dresses and the more tomboy types sported Adidas like it had announced a planned supply shortage.

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As each album passed they continued to amass yet more momentum and quite deservedly became the bestselling girl group of all time. However their first album Spice featured the most talked about single of their careers: ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

This wasn’t for any lyrical genius or the overall catchiness. It was the live performance at the Brits that made people stand up and listen. Who can forget Geri strutting down the stage in leather platforms and the infamous Union Jack dress – the same dress that was imitated thrice more by the high street? Fashion was once again what it should be – jovial and fun.

Out of their hugely successful back catalogue, I think that ‘Spice up Your Life’ was by far the best single and best video styling, honing in on the hugely popular grunge and goth scene. The Spice Girls were styled up to the nines in black leather, heavily worn in makeup and all-black ensembles.

For myself, and I’m sure many other devoted followers, following the Spice Girls became a much more accessible way of exploring a trend.

In 1998 I went to my first ever concert to see them perform, though one member down after Geri’s abrupt departure (*dabs tears*). Seeing the stage costumes, I realised I wanted to be a designer. I wanted to create clothes to be worn by vivacious characters like this. I remember for days after I drew costumes on my fashion wheel, expecting I would be snapped up as the next Versace (oh, the innocence of youth!).

2007 brought all five women back together for a reunion tour, and who better to create their stage costumes than world renowned designer Roberto Cavalli! The costumes all highlighted perfectly the personality of each member, adding to the ultimate spectacle of music and fashion. The best section I felt was Victoria using the stage as a catwalk, rather than singing one of her solo singles (it was for the best in all honesty – she sashays much better than laying down vocals).

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Music has always been a massive part of my life and also the main factor in my pool of inspiration. I can’t design without music – a creative match made in heaven. Where the Spice Girls differ was that the music was almost a secondary influence to me and the fierceness of each individual inspired me to achieve for myself. From primary to secondary school, I adored these women and all they had managed to inspire in me. These five incredible women will forever leave their mark on the creative industry as well as individuals like myself (GIRL POWER!).

With their 20th anniversary the most talked about event in recent months, I certainly hope it comes to fruition this year. It would be the perfect way to celebrate the influence and dominance of the greatest group of all time – and with any luck, it’ll inspire some brand new fashion trends as well.

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