On the 1 August 1981 pop culture changed forever as MTV broadcast the first ever television channel dedicated entirely to music videos. The first video to be shown was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, and this was followed by the likes of Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, The Who and Iron Maiden in the following days. As musicians vied for space on the lucrative platform their music videos began to get bigger and better, and with fashion playing a huge part in their persona, a lot more stylish. Here we chart seven of the most stylish music videos from the 80s and 90s, but don’t expect any Madonna here, to celebrate Emporio Armani’s new Remix line, this one is strictly for the boys.
Perhaps the most famous video of the 1980s, the seminal “Thriller” by Michael Jackson has never dated, and is considered as stylish then as it is now. And the fashion trends in the video - from the Varsity jacket worn in the opening scene to double denim to Jackson’s iconic red leather biker jacket – have also endured.
Featuring the band dressed as suited explorers “Hungry Like the Wolf” is revered as one of Duran Duran’s most stylish videos. Filmed in Sri Lanka and taking inspiration from Indiana Jones movies the band sport plenty of 80s trends – including white suits, mirrored sunglasses and trilby hats.
When it comes to pioneering and stylish music videos, few can hold a torch to the late, great David Bowie. You can choose from almost any of his hugely stylish videos, but 1984’s “Blue Jean”, in which Bowie takes on the alter ego of pop star Screaming Lord Byron, features a costume befitting of his chameleon status.
Perhaps one of the most stylish musicians ever – let alone across the 80s and 90s – Prince lead the way when it came to epic music videos. From “Raspberry Beret” to “1999” to “Purple Rain”, Prince exuded sex appeal and while his videos were considered shocking by some at the time, were always groundbreaking – particularly in the fashion stakes. One of his most memorable looks comes courtesy of 1984’s “When Doves Cry”, when the eccentric artist wore a metallic gold suit, ruffled shirt split to the waist and net covered trilby.
Perhaps George Michael’s most stylish video was one that he didn’t have even one second of screen time in. Directed by David Fincher and famously featuring a cast of supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford, George Michael’s “Freedom” is perhaps the most fashionable video of the 90s.
Music videos don’t get any more dramatic than Guns n Rose’s “November Rain”. There’s a wedding, a funeral, and of course that epic guitar solo on stage. With supermodel Stephanie Seymour in a wedding dress and Axl Rose, Slash et al clad in the quintessential rockstar attire of of leather jackets, jeans, patterned shirts with skinny scarves an one heavily adorned red military jacket – the video rates highly in the style stakes too.
Widely regarded as one of the best music videos of the 1990s, The Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Toinght” is also notable for its sartorial sharpness. Inspired by George Melies’ A Trip To The Moon from 1902 Billy Corgan and the rest of the band are clad in early 20th century finery – three piece suits, top hats and silk cravats.