L.A.M.B.'s Fall 2012 collection finds rock icon-turned-designer Gwen Stefani still creating spunky, pop-art driven looks – with happy consequences for her wide-ranging troupe of admirers. As we predicted, mod and Sixties "dolly bird" allure is making a case for renewed relevance this Fashion Week, with L.A.M.B.'s presentation on Saturday night making the catchiest argument yet for a Rude Girl revival. Given Stefani's reliable fixation on a certain type of minx, the source material here referenced familiar icons: Twiggy (whose image was prominently mounted on a black-and-white inspiration wall), Nancy Sinatra (audible in the background) and Stefani's own looks circa the houndstooth-clad Rock Steady chaunteuse of 2002 and the Alpine schoolgirl of 2006.
"I came across an editorial of a modern day Sixties sweater girl," Stefani tells Rolling Stone. "This took me back to the early days of rock music and rebellious teenagers of the Sixties, who have influenced almost every era since then, including punk and ska." She identifies argyle, houndstooth, military influences, and snakeskin as key ingredients to that distinctive admixture.
L.A.M.B. updated the Mary Quant look by infusing Eighties neons into Swinging Sixties tailored constructions and letting her accessories run wild. Safety yellow handbags, Day-Glo seams and loud graphical prints made the collection spring to life visually and successfully translated Stefani's punk and rasta influences into wearable pop art, Maripol-style. The most obvious tie to lowbrow art influence, and item destined for instant sell-out status here, was the electric pink and acid green "PUNK" sweater, composed in the style of Robert Indiana's immortal LOVE sculpture.
L.A.M.B's links to specific notions about pop culture's past are integral to the line's surprising longevity, as well as that of its creator. Stefani admits her latest retro muse introduces a new avenue of inspiration while still imparting a personal touch through "the other images I have always loved and worn throughout my life." Her own enduring appeal as both a magnetic pop personality and style symbol stems from her ability to transmit quirky ideas from her very active imagination to our collective consciousness. In doing so, her strange inspirations suddenly become cool. She's the rare superstar unafraid to put her heart (and florid fantasies) on her sleeve, even when that has meant leapfrogging existing trends and confusing the status quo. (Pink hair? Harajuku fetish? Fashion as lyrical motivation? Not such alien features in the post-Gaga/Minaj pop universe, are they now?) L.A.M.B. gives sartorial tradition a playful smack on the bottom, much like No Doubt's best music has always done – and if this collection reflects where Stefani's overall compass is pointing, expect an impish, restless take on Sixties power-pop to make a comeback on the band's next album, too.
Stream L.A.M.B.'s mod-fueled Fall 2012 collection here: