They were bold. They were tough. And they brought the risqué to the main stage. From The Terminator to the Ghost Rider, and Penny Lane to The Bride, the pieces of leather they adorned became as iconic as the characters themselves. Some of them we loved, some not so much. But whichever your leaning, they made an impact on the world of fashion as strong as the memorable roles they portrayed or lyrics they crooned.
By the dawn of the new millennium, rock ‘n roll had made its pervasive mark across lifestyle and culture, and on its coat-tails came luxurious leather. Sitting equally at ease on the racks of both haute couture and pret-a-porter designers and labels, leather found pride of place in the wardrobes of people from all walks of life. Movie stars donned it in varying garments with the same aplomb once reserved for rockstars. Rockstars, now preferring the addendum ‘musicians’, looked at ways to push the leather envelope, and did so with flair. And all of us everyday people found ourselves a lot more influenced than we let on. The personal style had, of course, overridden mere imitation, but these icons made a palatable impression.
Knights in Leather Armour
A franchise that grossed over $600 million over a span of 30 years and five films, The Terminator brought science fiction to mainstream cinema and created a cult following in the genre. “I’ll be back” Arnold Schwarzenegger promised and that he did at every turn. And his black leather jacket proved that even futuristic warfare wasn’t too much for leather to handle!
A motorbike that is the envy of every biker wasn’t the only thing to come out of the Ghost Rider film adaptation. Nicolas Cage proved he still had all the brawn required to carry off black leather pants and a bikers’ jacket with gutsy confidence. Leather pants that had died with the faded rockstars of the 80s now emerged on fashion runways around the world, all thanks to Marvel-inspired Johnny Blaze.
The world had taken note of the sizzling sex appeal of Halle Berry, but nothing had prepared us for the purple leather jumpsuit. Without revealing a spot of skin below her face, this bond girl sent a collective gasp across every silver screen. As zipped-up silken leather clung to her toned body, she broke the damsel-in-distress mould of Ian Fleming and replaced it with a woman as comfortable wearing a bikini as she is wielding a gun. Just the first of the many glass ceilings Berry went on to shatter!
A female assassin as terrifying as any of her male opponents, Uma Thurman as ‘The Bride’ in Kill Bill became synonymous with her canary yellow track-suit and leather jacket. If there ever was a testament to the tremendous tenacity of leather, it was this ensemble that found its uncanny inspiration in Bruce Lee’s last, unfinished film, Game of Death. Uma in yellow emerged as iconic as the film and its chilling soundtrack.
Pretty Bad Boys
Gaining steady popularity through the 90s, the Backstreet Boys bursted out of every teenage wall by the early 2000s with the help of their chart-topping album, Millenium. Whether we like to admit it or not, they made most girls swoon and most boys try their damnedest to dress like them, dance like them and, of course, sing like them! Always in matching outfits that often featured leather, the Backstreet Boys (or BSB as we so adoringly called them) took it one step further with a range of custom-made leather jackets that fans readily lapped up.
A film that epitomised the growing frustration of the American youth and the cultural fall-out of the ‘Burn Out Syndrome’, Fight Club spoke for a country finding ways to escape the banality of life on Wall Street. Just like James Dean and Marlon Brando before him, Brad Pitt became the symbol of a rebellious alter ego. And his red leather jacket that cemented the Dean association had movie-goers leaving the theatre with a stamp for their casual defiance.
The Women Who Rocked
Penny Lane. If that name doesn’t invoke the image of round blue glasses, golden locks of hair, and memories of Stillwater, you were probably a millennial child or living under a rock! Because Kate Hudson as the forever faithful groupie in Almost Famous became one of the most celebrated debuts in Hollywood, catapulting her and the film to iconic status. Breaking hearts the world over with her fragile confidence, her fur-lined brown suede over-coat symbolised the luxurious underbelly of 70s rock ‘n roll. With it, retro made a comeback to the 2000s, and how!
Outrageous, flamboyant, and often times, irreplicable, Lady Gaga’s sense of fashion is one for the history books. Whether you love it or hate it, admire it you must because she carries off what most of us are yet to imagine. But she took her cue from the 70s when she teamed up with the legendary Tony Bennett to sing Cheek To Cheek and zipped her self into a red leather jumpsuit that had fashionistas around the world gasp in awe. And just because she’s that cool she reinvented the look with a matching futuristic broad-rimmed hat and half-mask. Taking our hats off to her seems to be the best any us can do!