"Annie Lennox" may be a catchphrase for androgynous style, but on stage and in other kinds of performance, Annie can be chameleon, adopting whatever persona fits the song (or the occasion). Unlike many celebrities, she's always been in charge of her own costumes, both in videos and on stage. Deciding what to wear, what role to play, is a fundamental part of her artistic process. It's the difference between real singing and lip-synching. Annie has genuine style as well as an amazing voice. No wonder she’s an icon!
You can see her awareness at work in the video for the song "Why" where she starts bare-faced and then step by careful step applies the makeup and costume of the Diva. Born to the working class and still practical to the core, in real life she has never been a “diva” as we typically use the term (i.e. a temperamental woman who's hard to please). But what is a diva, she seems to ask...and who gets to throw that label around at whom, and after all, don't we all feel operatic emotions at times and need to express them? These are all the years we've spent/ this is what they represent....do you know what I feel?
She is, after all, a rock star. But a lot less hard edged than that term seems to imply, at least most of the time. Photo 1 is the most RATE she ever really gets. In #2, I tried to recreate it, and felt….uh…ridiculous!
And yet...with just a few tiny tweaks (no midriff exposure; maybe a different tank) this outfit would feel downright great, even at my advanced age. Put me (or Annie) in the right pair of jeans and we come home to ourselves. It's as simple as that.
Annie may like to dress with a boyish flair, but she’s always a consummate lady. Consider her choice for receiving the OBE. (Photo 3) A reporter asked her why she didn’t wear her HIV Positive t-shirt to the event. After all, the whole reason she was getting this award was for her charitable work on behalf of AIDs.
But as Annie pointed out, wearing a short sleeved casual tee would not have been respectful to the Queen. Instead, she purposely chose an outfit that she hoped would please Her Majesty. Right down to the paste pearls! (Talk about adjusting your outfit to suit your audience!)
In the end, I think she looks a bit like a bridesmaid. But not just any bridesmaid. One who got to choose a flattering colour.
In trying to recreate the look I discovered that I am sorely lacking in the right components. For example, I’m quite sure that black is utterly unacceptable for an afternoon reception with Her Majesty, and I doubt if it's ok to go sleeveless either. Also, I don’t own a fascinator. Fortunately, like Annie, I do have some thrift store bling. And at least I know how to curtsey. (Pics 4/5)
Speaking frankly, I’d feel very awkward in this outfit in real life so I’m glad I don’t have to wear it. I prefer a more streamlined look, both on myself and on Annie.
As a consummate performer, Annie always has plenty in her closet for those last minute awards presentations. Take, for instance. her classic black gown in Pic 6. Doesn’t she look amazing? Impossible for me to recreate since I don’t have a full length evening gown. But my blue linen cocktail sheath in Pic 7 (and a copy of Angie's turquoise dress) captures something of the same simple drama, I hope, and did me very well for receiving a National Magazine Award.
Then there is the fabulous 30s inspired cold shoulder dress she wore to receive her Oscar. (Pics 8/9). I have nothing remotely like this in my closet. But I do have a 20s inspired silk that makes me feel super feminine.
(Note to self: Must purchase a fabulous white silky satin gown for the Giller presentations...)
As beautiful as Annie looked at those two events, who will ever forget her amazing performance at the 2015 Grammies? Listen if you haven’t yet — she’ll put a spell on you. She mesmerized the audience and critics alike. Age, she showed us all, brings power, depth, resonance, and fire.
I had the most fun yet recreating my version of that outfit. BR sequin culottes, Trouve jacket, BR necklace. I actually wore a slightly more casual version (with denim jacket instead of tux jacket) just last week and I know I will wear this version at some point, too. Sequins and star power. What could be better?
Stay tuned for the final instalment of this series: Shining Light.
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