Music—especially the men and women who make it—has served as inspiration in the fashion world for decades, and this year we felt it more than ever.
Everywhere we turned, musical muses were popping up in the front rows of runway shows (in some cases, even on the runway), as well as on magazine covers month after month. The fascination fashion has with music must go both ways, because artists have recently stepped up their style game in their music videos as well, wearing pieces from the world's most prestigious fashion houses and custom couture creations that would make even the most snobbish of editors drool.
The 2011 crop of music videos featured everything from '90s supermodels to rampant fashion photography references, and we've picked the 15 videos that we believe really stood out in the style department. Which one did you watch on repeat?
Lady Gaga - Born This Way
This one's a no-brainer: In this Nick Knight-directed clip, models Raquel Zimmermann and Rico "Zombie Boy" Genest make appearances, and Gaga wears custom Thierry Mugler pieces designed by Nicola Formichetti himself—she even got to wear looks from Mugler's Fall 2011 collection before they hit the runway. Plus, when she's not writhing around in her undies, Mother Monster rocks two of the year's biggest trends: pink hair and tuxedo dressing. I'd say we made a pretty strong case, wouldn't you?
Rihanna - S&M
The first thought that came to us when we saw this clip for the first time was: "Rihanna stole Anna Dello Russo's look!" From the colorful Prada fur stoles to the wacky headgear—that cherry hat in particular—we wouldn't be surprised if the entire wardrobe for "S&M" came from ADR's closet. Speaking of stealing, famed photographer David LaChapelle sued RiRi for copying pieces of his work in the video, a lawsuit which the singer later settled. Looks like we're not the only ones who draw inspiration from Vogue Italia.
Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
The fashion world's love affair with Nicki Minaj was well documented this year—she even sat next to Anna Wintour in the front row at both Carolina Herrera's and Oscar De La Renta's Spring 2012 shows! Her cutesy, colorful video for "Super Bass" showcases her zany signature style, and it's truly a feast for the senses.
Beyoncé - Run The World (Girls)
Who had the best year ever? Beyoncé. Not only is she going to give birth to baby Jay-Z any minute now, her album 4 spawned some serious hits, and her fashion moments of 2011 are almost as impressive. She covered L'Officiel, Dazed & Confused, W, and Harper's Bazaar UK in some incredible looks by Balmain, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and more. The pinnacle, though, was her video for "Run the World (Girls)," where she dances up a storm wearing Alexander McQueen, Givenchy couture, Pucci, Gareth Pugh, and Jean Paul Gaultier couture. FIERCE.
Kreayshawn - Gucci Gucci
The video that started off as a viral YouTube sensation skyrocketed pint-sized Oakland rapper Kreayshawn to unlikely sartorial stardom. Besides name-dropping Gucci and Fendi over and over, her winged eyeliner, sparkly Minnie Mouse ears and love for the striped Prada Spring 2011 display windows never fail to make us smile.
Lady Gaga - Judas
Another day in 2011, another Lady Gaga video release. Her clip for "Judas" got a lot of attention for its similarities to Madonna's "Like A Prayer," as well as for its controversial religious themes, but all we really cared about was the fashion! Duh. Mother Monster enlisted Nicola Formichetti to style her once again, and she wears pieces from the likes of Christian Lacroix, Alexander McQueen, and Sally LaPointe. Also noteworthy: The bejeweled crown she wears in the video went up for sale on eBay for $18,000, and her beauty looks are insane—even for her.
Kanye West - Monster
We know this video was widely scorned because of its portrayal of dead models and allusions to violence towards women, but Kanye has claimed time and time again that the "Monster" storyline was meant to be artistic, and the obvious references to fashion photographers Guy Bourdin and Steven Klein help to back up his statement. This was hands-down the most controversial clip of the year, but do you think it was worth all of the hype?
Best Coast - Our Deal
Directed by Drew Barrymore and starring young Hollywood darlings like Chloe Moretz, Miranda Cosgrove, and Shailene Woodley, the video for "Our Deal" is essentially a love story wrapped in an awesome fashion hodgepodge. The looks range from '50s Teddy Boys to '70s punk to early '80s hip-hop, and it's safe to say that stylist Alicia Lombardini killed it with this clip.
Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed
This hazy tune is sexy on its own, but add an equally sexy model on a motorcycle and you've essentially got an editorial in motion.
Rye Rye - New Thing
An infectiously catchy hip-hop song paired with the Prabal Gurung Resort 2012 collection—what's not to love? It's almost impossible not to dance in your seat while watching this one.
Oh Land - White Nights
It looks like the adorable Danish songstress has about 20 costume changes in her video for "White Nights," and each dreamy ensemble is better than the last. Oh Land's references seem to range from a sweet Lula editorial to the geometric Balenciaga Fall 2011 ad campaign, so it's not surprising that she's already earned plenty of attention from the style set. Keep your eye out for her in the years to come!
Lana Del Rey - Video Games
Equal parts faded nostalgia and Hollywood glamour, this video transcends any one particular genre of style. The Internet sensation's look has been called a number of things, including “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” but no matter how you classify it, you should probably get used to seeing it—we're betting that this girl will be everywhere in 2012.
Adele - Someone Like You
How do you possibly create a music video that can stand up to one of the best (if not the best) songs of the year? Film it in black and white on the streets of Paris, then throw in a gorgeous '60s beauty look and a Moschino coat for good measure. Well played, Adele.
Florence + The Machine - Shake It Out
Florence Welch is arguably fashion's biggest musical muse of 2011. Not only did Karl Lagerfeld shoot her for the cover of October's Vogue Japan and stick her inside of a seashell to perform at the Chanel Spring 2012 show, Gucci's Frida Giannini named Florence as the inspiration for the Italian label's Fall 2011 collection and designed the singer's costumes for her summer tour. Flo has always stood out for her innately cool sense of style, but the looks in her video for "Shake It Out" are particularly stellar—she wears couture creations by both Valentino and Elie Saab. The song isn't half bad, either!
Duran Duran - Girl Panic!
Five words: Naomi, Cindy, Helena, Eva, Yasmin. Here's five more: Balmain, Dolce, Gabbana, Giles, Cavalli. Forget most stylish video of the year, this epic clip from one of the world's most prolific rock bands might be the most stylish video of the decade.