The Many, Many Looks of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour and What They Mean

Oscar de la Renta. Versace. Alberta Ferretti. Robert Cavalli. Ellie Saab. Christian Louboutin. Zuhair Murad. Ashish. The list of designers who created Taylor Swift’s look for his Eras Tour began in Arizona just over a month ago, and he finished in California in August before heading overseas. message tea.

The resulting dress-up extravaganza was, understandably, greeted with heart-thumping enthusiasm…a lot of clothes! So sparkling! It is very fun! There’s an online story page that breathlessly chronicles “every outfit Taylor Swift wore on her world tour during her time.” Ellie Australia put it). And new styles continue to emerge, enabling new coverage. As if wardrobe abundance is an achievement in itself.

It is possible. The logistics alone are daunting. How could it change so quickly during a performance?

Entering the Summer of the Divas has definitely raised the bar for the next touring artist. Madonna embarked on her retrospective tour (imagine that look) and Beyoncé set the standard. She goes from her August, cyborg goddess to cowboy lord to hitman Audrey to her Hepburn via the trailer for “I’m That Girl,” which includes at least seven of her looks compressed into minutes. High in the sky when you drop some kind of teaser.

But you can also look at something else, like all these Swift outfits, all those wardrobe switches. It could be more edgy meta-commentary in hopes of one-upping old images and unveiling new versions for our viewing pleasure. Infinitely. And the message that Ms. Swift has probably been calling the whole time.

The promise of reinvention is a core American value. It is the belief that everyone has the right to a fresh start, limited only by their own imagination and capabilities. It is inherently tied to fashion possibilities, as well as hanging new-your-appeal. You can try different selves until you settle on what feels right to you.

But Swift has made a habit of embedding meaning in her wardrobe choices, as she said in the 2020 documentary Miss Americana.

“Female artists I know have reinvented themselves 20 times more than male artists,” she says in her narration towards the end of the film. Ringlets, shimmering blue eyeshadow and the princess in her dress. ‘1989’ Taylor, ironed bob and sparkly bodysuit. “Reputation” is an angry Taylor with snakes crawling up her limbs.

This is necessary, Swift continues.

At the time, she was talking about her newfound political voice and new album, “Lover” (now three albums and at least two Taylors ago: Earth nymph Taylor on “Folklore” and “Evermore”, and ” Evermore’ Dreamer Taylor). “midnight”). But in many ways, what she meant (so to speak) becomes clear on the Eras Tour.

Each musical era revisited on the show had its own look, and there were a dozen or so of them all. Watching her go through them one after another is not just about the amazing clothes worn with purpose, but the constant fashion that has modeled for modern female pop stars ever since Madonna set the tone in the 1980s. It is also to see no reinvented hamster wheel.

It stands out especially when compared to another musical act currently touring with similar responses and acclaim as Bruce Springsteen. Mr. Springsteen is now 73 years old, but his style has changed little in his 50 years. He is still wearing tattered jeans and denim his shirt, bracelets on his wrists and boots on his feet.

To be fair, there are male rock stars who have made the game out of reinvention. Most notably David Bowie, but also Harry Styles to some extent. Some women rebelled.

But Cathy Iandri, adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School and author of God Save the Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop, says the pressure to dress up and change is real. increase. She falls for women exponentially. She is “1,000 percent,” Iandri said. “Female pop stars have a level of costume that’s how labels market their creativity. And if you’re known as an evolutionary artist, you’re always like, ‘What’s the next version of you? ?”

Ms. Swift turned that pressure more openly for her own ends than anyone else. Her makeover, which coincides with the evolution of her sound, is not the same makeover imposed on the protagonist in Lady Her Gaga’s version of “A Star Is Born.” New dance moves her — a leaner version of herself she rejected after the death of her husband.

Ms. Swift, by contrast, is a wardrobe mistress of her own (along with stylist Joseph Cassel Falconer), and many of her fans show up dressed as their favorite Taylors.

But even Gaga, a master of fashion and musical makeovers, opted for ripped jeans and a black T-shirt at this year’s Oscars, rather than changing into yet another eye-popping gown for her performance. It seemed defying its obligations when wearing it subverted all expectations…and scrubbing her face bare, as if to say to the watching world: Enough is enough .

Fernando Garcia, creative director of Oscar de la Renta, said he created a crystal-embroidered t-shirt dress to match a lavender faux-fur coat and a midnight-blue crystal-embroidered jumpsuit for the tour. . Swift on Eras felt “like a perfect circle moment.” If so, it’s also a sign that another era is coming to an end.

At one point on the Eras show, when Ms. Swift sings “Look What You Made Me Do,” all the old Taylors are embodied by different backup dancers in different costumes in different little glass boxes. I’m here. Trapped in the past, my limited space, my old wardrobe, finally freed.

As a fashion metaphor, it cannot be overlooked.

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