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Patti Smith: Punk Chic for Everyday Wear

Style icon continues to inspire runway looks

Patti Smith, Godmother of Punk and Goddess of My Heart, cemented her status as Rock N’ Roll legend with her 1975 album “Horses.” But Smith had already been making her mark for years. Smith was a fixture in the post-folk-pre-punk counterculture scene cultivated by 1970s Manhattan. She and then-partner – the famously controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe – frequently haunted Max’s Kansas City (RIP) and CBGB (RIP) with the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and oh my, the fabulous list goes on and on.

Patti Smith in 1977. Image Credit: Lynn Goldsmith

Smith’s style has always been as mystifying and exhilarating as her raw, poetic music. She was once told by Salvador Dalí: You are like a gothic crow.

When you’re that good of an artist, you don’t need a façade or gimmick. This is punk … Or I should say, this is real punk (which [in my opinion] is dead). Her style initially came from necessity.

When she first moved to New York in 1967, she lived in extreme poverty; options were limited. It is easy to glamorous punk, but hunger is hunger. She and Mapplethorpe often swapped clothes, further fueling her androgynous style. She began breeding her own brand of cool. Her style, like her music, embodies the masculine, powerful and untamed: Button-up shirts, distressed denim, leather jackets, utilitarian boots, stripes and unisex coats.

Image Credit: [left] Michael Ochs Archive & [right] Gijsbert Hanekroot

I have been lucky enough to meet Patti Smith on three separate occasions, and each time she was draped in loose-fitted blouses and denim jeans. She wore black Converse twice and militant boots on the third time. She is as powerful a trend setter today as she was in the 1970s, thanks in part to her phenomenally successful 2010 memoir Just Kids.

Patti Smith in 2015 for ‘The New York Times.’ Image Credit: Philip Montgomery

Smith-inspired looks have hit the run way time and time again, including a successful Rebecca Minkoff Fall/Winter show in 2015.

Patti Smith-Inspired fashion from Rebecca Minkoff’s 2015 F/W Ready-to-Wear line. Image Credit: Yannis Vlamos

Smith is chic because she has the authority to pull her unique style off. And you can too. Here is my modernized, everyday ensemble inspired by Patti Smith (for any budget!): 

Patti Smith Inspired fashion. Collage By: Lianna Bass

1 | White Blouse: This simply yet elegant over-sized white blouse from H&M – can be tucked in or not. You do you. Make it your own.

2 | Black TightsTights add a slight hint of femininity to the overall look. Distressed tights with rips and holes will give the ensemble a less polished look.

3 | Denim ShortsPatti Smith is synonymous with denim. If it’s too cold for shorts, feel free to rock a solid pair of boyfriend cuff jeans.

4 | Martini TieThis skinny black tie ads a sense of masculine elegance to the overall look.

5 | Feather EarringsIn one of my favourite photographs of Patti Smith, the artist holds a feather.

6 | Converse (1970s style)Classic cool. Need I say anymore?

7 | Urban Decay Matte LipstickThe perfect lipstick for the urban chic boss lady.

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