From New York Playboy bunny to fearless punk singer, here is Harry’s style evolution in five definitive looks
Sometimes, looking at images of Debbie Harry is actually painful she looks that good. With her iconic pout, shock of bleached white hair and revolving, ever-imitated outfit choices, the 70s style queen has always been (and still is) much more than Blondie’s lead singer. First emerging onto the scene as a Playboy bunny, and ending up as one of punk rock’s most fearless frontwomen, Harry defined the effortless fashion of New York City; a style borne from sweaty basement hangouts CBGB, Studio 54 and Max’s Kansas City, and documented in Edo Bertoglio’s party-buzzed polaroids and countless on-stage film clips. These days, her influence is felt everywhere, from the denim-clad looks that Sky Ferreira rocks on stage, to Miley Cyrus’ self-aware sexual prowess. To celebrate Debbie Harry’s enduring legacy as music’s ultimate cult style icon, here are just a few of her most on-point moments.
We can’t work out what we’re more into – that “Vulture” t-shirt, those skin-tight black jeans or the fact her eyes have disappeared underneath her bleached blonde fringe. “The ‘Vulture’ shirt was given to me by one of Chris Stein's oldest friends and it became one of my favourites,” Harry has since explained. “The skull and bones, we did an iron-on and put them on there. Those were my favourite black toreador straight-leg pants. I think they were cotton with a high waistband; really hot, good-looking pants. The little beret was dedicated to two of my favourite images: Patty Hearst when she was ‘Tania’ and Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde.”
Not many of us can pull of a zebra print scarf as a dress (or is it a swim suit?) but Debbie Harry looks fierce in this black-and-white one piece. The image itself appeared as part of an iconic photoshoot for the 1978 cover of ZigZag magazine, a post-punk music monthly. On a side note, are those wooden penises dangling from around her neck or just giant wooden teeth? “The zebra dress was a funny moment,” she told Vogue, citing it as her favourite ‘costume’ “I love the (Stephen Sprouse) look a lot. He was the closest thing to a personal stylist then and made me outfits.”
Debbie Harry has always been known for her effortless thrift-store style t-shirts, and this “Andy Warhol’s Bad” tee is easily one of her most iconic. Although Harry and Warhol’s connection to each other extended far beyond the swirling letters of t-shirt. “I bumped into Andy on Broadway and 13th street and said hello and we chatted about everything. I suppose this is how we met and our friendship grew from there,” Harry has since said. “He was very softly spoken and used a funny Polaroid portrait camera. Andy was part of our legacy and our future.” An early pop art image of Harry by Warhol from 1980 has recently been sold for a cool $5.9 million.
LADY IN BLUE
Here, Debbie Harry is pictured in 1979 looking incredible with a neon-pink halo glimmering around her head and a shining, sequin-studded top. With her eyes fixed to the camera and smudged with electric-blue liner, it’s easy to see why the Blondie singer was considered the queen of glamour as well as punk, with the two styles often bleeding into each other. The photograph itself was shot by Maureen Donaldson, who captured her right before the release of Blondie’s fourth album Eat to the Beat during a time where the band were partying hard. “The music was good but the group was showing signs of wear and tear,” wrote songwriter Mike Chapman in the album’s sleeve notes. “The meetings, the drugs, the partying and the arguments had beaten us all up, and it was hard to have a positive attitude when the project was finally finished.”
Just like fellow rebel girl Joan Jett, Debbie Harry was often decked out in the rock ‘n’ roll uniform of all-black sunglasses with a motorcyle leather to match – and this tightly-fitted, zip-up number remains our absolute favourite. “The little leather jacket was something I found in a thrift store in Los Angeles,” Harry told Dujour about the outfit. “It was a child's size – I was very small then – and one of my favourite possessions. I still have it. If you look at my bracelets, you see a little lightning bolt that I collected from Bijou, who made jewellery for Aladdin Sane for David Bowie. It was painted with this candy apple red car paint, so it was a treasure."