If the name Liela Moss means nothing to you, it is because you haven’t been paying attention.
In her five year reign as the enigmatic lead singer of blues-rock outfit The Duke Spirit, Liela has swiftly developed a cult following as a leader of indie’s femme elite and as an accidental subcultural style guru — a status recently advanced by none other than Alexander McQueen himself. Last week, within the furor of media promotion for McQueen’s upcoming Target capsule collection, came the confirmation of her early adopters’ prescience: Liela Moss is officially McQueen’s new muse.
So, the secret is out — there’s no going back now. The most likely lass of the fashion-forward pop underground has received her formal endorsement, and for her long time admirers, it is a bittersweet development. Diamonds in the rough — however tempted we are to keep them to ourselves — can only stay hidden for so long. Alternative icons Patti Smith and Siouxsie Sioux became unlikely fashion muses: why shouldn’t Liela Moss join their ranks? As an extension of her potent stage charisma, she has instinctively constructed a noirish visual template that emblemizes what a modern female rock star should look like. Actually, it is surprising that Liela Moss has remained a hidden gem for this long. No wonder McQueen wants to brand the alpha females of his universe with her superlative sense of style.
What defines the Liela Moss image? A cool synthesis of traits that corresponds perfectly with fashion’s current less-is-more zeitgeist: dynamic utility, sophistication, and attitude to boot, all smartly conveyed through her pairing of dramatic, edgy basics with bold statement dressing. The age-old juxtaposition of hard and soft is a style recipe that works particularly well for the flaxen-haired Moss, whose style was labeled “KGB Chic” by The Independent’s James Sherwood. She views dressing as a form of visual empowerment, which means she prefers “classic shapes with a bit of a savage sexual feel to them” and incorporating black into her ensembles, as it “infuses [them] with a hard simplicity”.
Her core aesthetic inspirations range from fellow unconventional femme style trailblazers Chrissie Hynde, Björk, and Grace Jones to Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry, to Truffaut films. She (fittingly) professes admiration for Alexander McQueen. Other favorite designers also include other fearless vanguards Junya Watanabe, Bernard Wilhelm (for her pluckier stage pieces), Hussein Chalayan (“for his exhilarating genius and architectural style”), and Unhee (Suzy Yun’s whimsical line).
What are the linchpin items in Moss’s wardrobe? When performing, she famously dons miniature swan’s feathers or a “bit of gold rope” round her neck. Her instantly recognizable gold tunic — also often worn onstage, layered over a pantherine black unitard — is from Canadian designer Renata Morales, while many of her menswear-inspired separates come courtesy of Rag & Bone. On off days, she lives in Siwy Jeans and vintage tees — she keeps her eye out for thrift store treasures in any city she visits. She also loves killer full-length gloves from cult boudoir brand, Kiki de Montparnasse.
In an age where fashion’s and music’s key players huddle comfortably under the same pop cultural umbrella, and with her newly Christened “muse” status, perhaps Liela Moss will one day herself design a smashing clothing line for women who want to emulate her sharp, enigmatic panache.
“I’m doing a couple of collaboration projects with some designers, so I shall be wearing some new stuff that I’ve had a hand in creating,” she told Refinery29 last month. “This will be personally very satisfying.”
We can’t help but wonder if this means that she personally contributed to the creation and direction of McQueen’s Target collection? Guess we will find out in March 2009.
Watch The Duke Spirit’s video for “The Step & The Walk” and enjoy Liela’s transcendent style and music for yourself.
Were you aware of her Liela’s style prowess pre-McQueen? Does she make a good Muse for McQueen?