Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Style Icon: Deborah Harry of Blondie

By Randi Reed

Continuing our February theme we give you Cosme-Haul Style Icon Deborah Harry--the Punk and New Wave pioneer with the perfect heart-shaped mouth, who really knew how to rock red lip gloss (and made bedhead and roots a cool thing).

Whether she and her bandmates liked it or not, Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry was destined to be a glamour icon. The success of Blondie was just when it actually happened. Voted “Prettiest Girl” of her Senior class in 1963, she was a Bunny at New York’s Playboy Club. When she went blonde and finally found herself as an artist as the lead singer of Blondie, people noticed she looked like a younger, healthier version of the Marilyn Monroe in Bert Stein’s The Last Sitting photographs.  When Deborah turned her head and smiled a certain way, she and Marilyn looked nearly identical, and many kids of the era first heard of Marilyn when their parents remarked about the resemblance.

Blondie album cover photo outtake. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)

Marilyn Monroe, from The Last Sitting, 1962. (Photo: Bert Stein, via Vanity Fair.)

Chris Stein and Deborah Harry. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)

Marilyn Monroe, from The Last Sitting, 1962. (Photo: Burt Stein.)

The ghost in the room--pun intended--was that to a punk crowd, looking like a dead ringer of a dead celebrity icon was akin to capturing lightening in a bottle. But Deborah Harry was no Marilyn imitator. She may have started out wearing vintage Marilyn-style dresses, but she added her own unique dose of cool:

Deborah was platinum blonde, but she let her roots show, without making it look the least bit trampy. She wore her hair bedhead-style, in a casual, who-gives-a-f**k kind of way.  She wore black motorcycle jackets with striped French sailor shirts. And no one did red lip gloss better than the way Deborah Harry wore it in the video for “Heart of Glass”, which was shown regularly on TV despite the debut of MTV being more than two years away.

Screenshot from "Heart of Glass" video, 1979 (Photo: Vimeo.)

Nearly a decade before Madonna, teenagers wanted to look like Deborah Harry. Andy Warhol painted her portrait. The fashionistas ate it up, and designers wanted to dress her. Pierre Salinger, JFK’s former press secretary, interviewed her with bandmate/partner Chris Stein for a 20/20 profile, which aired in March of 1980. As shown in You Tube videos of the 20/20 profile, Deborah Harry’s off-stage clothes were every bit as copyable as her onstage looks (and many did). 

Lest we forget, Deborah Harry could sing and write lyrics, too, and she was a hell of a performer onstage. In the music world, as well as the fashion world, Deborah Harry was a pioneer: Blondie’s blend of punk, pop, and disco ushered in the sound known as “New Wave.” 
More than thirty-six years after Blondie’s breakthrough, Deborah Harry is still a fashion icon. (Marilyn Monroe’s entire life was only thirty-six years, after all.) Many of Deborah Harry’s looks from the late ‘70’s, such as those iconic striped sailor shirts worn with motorcycle jackets, hold up today and are still featured in fashion magazines. T-shirts featuring stylized outlines of her circa ‘79 visage are big sellers with today’s teens, and in 2012, NARS’ Andy Warhol Collection Cheek and Eye palette featured her portrait. 

And she’s still cool: in 2006, the same year Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Deborah Harry was a spokesperson in MAC’s Viva Glam campaign at the vibrant age of 61. She’s still an in-demand live performer who believes in good causes, too: in protest of Russia’s anti-gay policies, writing “PASS--HUMAN RIGHTS” in large, underlined letters on the offer sheet, she and her Blondie cohorts turned down an invitation to perform at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. 
Deborah Harry. (Photo: unknown, possibly Warhol, via deborah-harry.com.)
Blondie. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)
(Photo: unknown, via Deborah-Harry.com.)
Deborah Harry and Chris Stein. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)
Blondie Greatest Hits cover photo. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)
(Photo: unknown, Deborah-Harry.com.)
Blondie. (Photo: unknown, via Google Images.)
(Photo: Angele Wylie? via deborah-harry.com.)

(Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)

(Photo: unknown, via Deborah-Harry.com.)
Deborah Harry as a redhead. (Photo: unknnown, via deborah-hary.com.)

Deborah Harry in a fashion spread. (Photo: Daniela Frederici via deborah-harry.com.)

Deborah Harry in the 2000's. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)

Blondie, Panic of Girls photo session, 2011. (Photo: unknown, via deborah-harry.com.)

Andy Warhol-signed Debbie Harry print. (Warhol, via liveauctioneer.com.)

Deborah Harry (Photo: Andy warhol? via deborah-harry.com.)

Further reading and watching:

Deborah Harry Official Website

Have a Cosme-Haul Style Icon suggestion? Connect with us on Twitter @CosmeHaul and let us know!

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