With their wild, sexy and sometimes absurdly fantastic outfits, who wouldn’t want to look like a rock star? From Van Halen’s signature snake skin, skin tight pants to Madonna’s black rubber fabric elbow gloves in the Human Nature video, almost every rock star, pop star or other musician has a look that fans just love to imitate. But did you know that many of our favorite rock stars’ outfits are made of costume fabric with reptile print or snake skin print, fake leather or rubber fabric?
Thanks to vinyl’s incredible versatility when it comes to textures, prints and colors, as well as the ease with which it can be used to assemble costumes, costume fabric, rubber fabric and fake leather have been favorites among the stylists of the stars for decades. And the rock stars themselves love wearing outfits made of costume fabric, thanks to its flexibility and light weight, which allows them maximum range of movement when they’re performing, on the red carpet or attending a publicity event.
Back in the seventies rock bands like Kiss, Twisted Sister and Van Halen were known for their long hair and skin tight pants, often in snake skin or reptile print. Their hundreds of thousands of fans adopted the look, bringing both mullets and leggings to street fashion. A generation later, rock bands Poison and Bon Jovi continued the trend, firmly establishing the costume fabric and fake leather skin tight pants as not only a fad, but an actual style. But the seventies also saw the birth of a very different kind of music: punk.
Darker, sometimes wilder and often quirkier than rock, punk spoke to a whole generation of kids growing up in economically challenging times. Many of the outfits worn by punk bands were born out of creativity and shortness of cash; unable to afford real leather, fake leather became the material of choice for ankle length coats, heavy worker’s boots and even the quirky waistcoat.
Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders championed a punk movement that enjoyed the freedom of expression fashion deserves, but refused to kill animals to clothe themselves. Fake leather, in snake skin or reptile print, or other forms of costume fabric like rubber fabric, offered an animal-friendly solution.
Musicians continue to love costume fabric and rubber fabric and use both kinds of vinyl in their stage costumes as well as their daily lives. Most notably, the amazing Britney Spears uses both costume fabric and rubber fabric for her exquisitely sexy stage outfits. With her now-familiar flirt with the world of fetish, one of her most extravagant outfits to date featured PVC nipple tassels – apparently inspired the cone bra Jean Paul Gaultier designed for Madonna.
More recently, good girl turned bad Miley Cyrus has exchanged her sweet schoolgirl look for a sexier, slinkier style that leaves her legs and midriff bare: fake leather hot pants and the tiniest of fake leather bustiers. The switch worked for Britney and Christina, and it looks like it will work for Miley too!
When it comes to rubber fabric at its best, nobody does it better than Lady Gaga. Wildly innovative on stage and confidently sexy when off, Lady Gaga even wears rubber fabric corsets to go shopping. Practically every music and style magazine wants Gaga’s image to grace its cover.
Costume fabric, fake leather and rubber fabric have always been the choice of cutting edge musicians pushing the envelope of self-expression not only through their music and lyrics, but also through their costumes and videos. Costumes made of these materials act like amplifiers to guitars, making musicians more visually memorable as performers.