In 1963, The Rolling Stones known for banging out Chuck Berry covers took their first official photo on the streets of London’s Chelsea district. Five bad boys, some still sporting adolescent pimples, slouched in a ratty sweater, rumbled jackets,and ill-fitting trousers. They all looked like students stumbling through a 3-day bender after getting expelled.
Over the next five decades, the Stones turned the stage into the world’s largest runway. The transformation of their looks was constant and radical, even as they stayed true to their filthy, blue-based sound. The band’s hugefashion legacy was displayed at a show in New York. “Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones,” portrayed the biggest collection of the Stones’ stage outfits, musical instruments, and memorabilia ever assembled.
The techie, multimedia exhibition contains old diaries, notebooks filled with lyrics, original cover art, and historically significant guitars in glass cases. The exhibition also features scrupulous re-creations of a Stones’ recording studio and the infamous hovel at 102 Edith Grove in London.
The collection started from 1963 with houndstooth check jacket, a relic of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, the Stones attempted to be G-rated teen idols in matching uniforms. In the early 60s, one of the big fashion things was the Beatles’ jackets; that was something different. Clothes were immediately talked about on men and women performers.
If the band had burned out, like other contemporaries, the clothes in “Exhibitionism” would still make for a watershed retrospective. The Stones of the 60s and 70s had an impact on men’s style that is inestimable.
The Rolling Stones, in fact, had another 40 years of head-turning looks. As disco became a punch line in the late 70s, the Stones give the impression to recover a cultural credibility by reaching for the white suits and skinny ties, and cranking out slick dance-pop numbers like “Miss You.”
By the 90s, the Stones were a Fortune touring behemoth, and their clothes reflected their status as the new establishment. The swashbuckling assemblage of animal-print coats, headbands, and sash belts synergized the role as Captain Teague in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
After 54 years and nearly 54,000 fashion experiments, the one question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Jagger, the lead singer and co-founder, of The Rolling Stones band has regretted any particular outfit? He said with a laugh, “You’re bound to make mistakes. There’re so many ghastly awful ones, but everyone loved them. You’ve to go further and go to more to the defense of the ridiculous in fashion.” Take chances, they might not be a success, but there’s no success without risks.