Who’s good looking today?
Who’s looking good in every way?
No style rookie
You better watch, don’t mess with me
– Lyrics from Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance”
Since her 1980s solo breakthrough in the world of music, Swedish-born singer and rapper Neneh Cherry exuded style and swagger. Cherry was born into a creative family, raised by her artist mother Monica Karlsson and stepfather, jazz musician, Don Cherry. She cultivated her singing style while miming along to Poly Styrene’s punk vocals on X-Ray Spex’s tracks. When Cherry was 14, she moved to London and there she met Ari Up, lead singer of The Slits, whom she squatted with in Battersea. Cherry had stints in several bands before she released her first solo album Raw Like Sushi in 1982. This marked the beginning of her status as an 80s icon.
In this style era of bright prints, shiny spandex, extreme shoulder pads and permed hair, 80s streetwear was born alongside it all. Neneh Cherry played her part in originating hip-hop classics like short shorts, bomber jackets, crop tops and dollar medallions. But it was meeting the stylists, Ray Petri and Judy Blame, that catapulted her into the world of style. With her wardrobe of bold jewellery, African prints, and trainers for days, Cherry became a fashion force to be reckoned with. For today’s throwback we are celebrating some of her most iconic style moments…
Performing pregnant on Top of the Pops
In 1988, Neneh Cherry was one of the first artists to do what stars like M.I.A, Gwen Stefani, J. Lo and Alicia Keys did after her, and that was to perform pregnant on stage. Kitted out in one of her signature cropped jackets, trainers and a huge gold medallion, Cherry and her baby bump showed us how the “cool mum” look was done.
Image: Neneh Cherry heavily pregnant wearing a Mark Lawrence jacket, via Andrea Catlin-London Features
All gold err’thang
If it wasn’t big and gold, you can be sure it wasn’t hanging round Neneh Cherry’s neck or dangling from her ear lobes. From dollar signs, to lacy hearts, to silhouettes of the African continent, Cherry was rarely seen without her bold bling.
Cherry was so cool about success, and so addicted to the bling, that she even melted down one of her two Brit Awards that she won in 1990 to make jewellery. She also gave a piece to Jazzie B of Soul II Soul because she thought he deserved to win one too.
Prints, prints, PRINTS!
I couldn’t write this article without including this amazing catsuit covered in one dollar bills featuring Mickey Mouse icons. Neneh told The Guardian that this piece “was from Patricia Field’s shop in New York – it’s not by her, it’s by some drag-queen designer. I think we ran out of money, spending it on baby clothes, so needed something cheap and cheerful. Those are $7 earrings.”
Trainers for days
I challenge you to find a picture of Neneh Cherry without trainers on. She still wears them every day now.
Hats are not everyone’s cup of tea, but Neneh Cherry clearly loved donning them on her noggin, be it a pork pie, or a dimpled western/bowler hat hybrid. And why not, because let’s face it, she rocked them better than Pharrell!