Grimes: The Fashion Icon Behind The Artist

In this day and age, fashion is a tool of personal branding, creativity, and self-expression. Claire Elise Boucher, famously known as Grimes, certainly knows how to wield this weapon of power. Her style never fails to make her stand out from her musical peers. But what makes Grimes, well, Grimes? To answer that question, let’s go through a brief account of Grimes’ rise to fame as an aesthetic sensation and how her style plays an essential role in defining the art of the ethereal movement in pop culture.



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Think of the early 2000s: a time when young self-taught Claire began experimenting with visual arts and electronic music production. She drew inspiration from science fiction and Japanese culture. It wasn’t until 2007 that she began performing under the Grimes handle. 

Three years later, she released her debut album Geidi Primes: a dark and out-of-this-world concept album full of galactic sound effects, unusual beats, and Japanese chants. Even though no music video was released for this album, its lyrics and musicality are enough to let the listener know that the Grimes’ stage persona is bold, unusual, and bizarre (in the best sense of the word). During the release of this album and Halfaxa, her second studio album, her character was still under development, because she had not yet resorted to her current level of theatricality. Instead, she began to identify herself with brightly-colored hair, short-cropped bangs, and dark clothing: a goth-meets-punk style reminiscent of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and sprinkled with a dash of what I like to call the “rave pixie aesthetic”.

Fast forward to 2012, circa the release of her next studio album, Visions. This album includes two of her top hits: "Genesis" and "Oblivion". During this phase in her career, heavy makeup begins to become a part of her artistic persona. Additionally, we notice how a blonde Grimes is starting to incorporate pastel colors and oversized garments to her look.

In 2014, when she achieves media stardom with the album Art Angels. The delicate fairy vibes from her previous work are set aside to include a darker, ravier, and more electronic version of Grimes. 

Through this album’s music videos, Grimes transmits some serious Harajuku vibes mixed with visual kei (which is another Japanese street style common among j-pop-rock bands). Another captivating video that made this album’s cut was "Flesh Without Blood". In this video, Grimes alternates roles, becoming both a gory, lilac-wigged French rococo character and a creepy, pink-hatted cowboy angel. To make matters even more interesting, Grimes reveals preppy and unprecedentedly girly looks in the "World Princess Part II" music video, proving yet again that her style is extremely volatile and multi-faceted. Nevertheless, the cherry on top of all these wardrobe choices and visual jewels can be appreciated in Venus Fly: a seven-minute-long video dazzling in its ambitious costumes and extravagant visuals. Alongside fellow singer Janelle Monáe, Grimes excels stylistically while wearing glitter eyebrows, feathered leotards, carnivorous-plant-inspired dresses, and tribal mohawks, just to name a few (and let’s not forget the typical wielding of swords, a common element in the vast majority of her music videos).



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We expect nothing greater from Grimes on her upcoming album, Miss_Anthrop0cene. Despite the fact the album hasn’t yet been released, Grimes has certainly provided her fanbase with some highly-anticipated style inspiration. 

Let’s start with her "Violence" music video, in which she appears wearing a custom-made Iris Van Herpen haute couture dress. Because this modern fashion house is widely renown for incorporating cutting-edge technology and engineering to produce its garments, it makes perfect sense that tech-savvy and fearlessly-fashionable Grimes opted to wear one of its masterpieces: a transparent mesh dress with a boat neckline complete with metallic silver streaks that play an optical illusion in the beholder’s eye.

Grimes’ latest live performance at the annual Game Awards show on December 13 also featured some riveting style choices. As part of her homage performance to Cyperpunk 2077, one of the most anticipated games of the year, Grimes donned a white flowy cape with a satin sweetheart dress embellished with a metallic gold belt. Combined with the fog, laser projections and wind effects, this outfit made a huge point in delivering Grimes’ characteristic outer space warrior vibes. 



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Like any other artist, it is no surprise that Grimes has evolved throughout her years as a performer. However, it is impossible to deny her ability to change while still adhering to her essence; which is, at the end of the day, unique and extremely versatile. Be it as a sword-fighting alien, a punk rock elf, or a Barbie-inspired cowboy angel, Grimes’ style is strongly defined as a milestone for the ethereal musical genre-a campaign she started in early December as an effort to provide other unique artists (such as Rosalía and Björk) with a specific niche within the Spotify community.



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Although there has been a significant rise of so many sui generis art-pop performers, Grimes has successfully used fashion as a tool for distinction and individuality, in a way that can only be described as experimental. The fearless approach Grimes has taken to develop her artistic style positively reflects how today’s musical generation grasps the ubiquitous concept of fashion and how, at the end of the day, it is all about perception.