Grace Jones has done it, Madonna has done it and Lady Gaga continues to do it. Shock us that is. These women are probably as famous for their daring, provoking fashions as they are for their music but are we reaching the end of the line for shock fashion. Have we seen it all?

Lady Gaga’s meat dress caused collective gasps when she wore it in 2010 and even now, in her 60’s, Grace Jones refuses to surrender to a twin set and comfy trousers. But whilst we may gasp and even tut at Madonna’s leotards are we really genuine shocked by fashion? Stacey Liu, Founder of, thinks so, “Yes, I think that fashion definitely has the ability to shock. What with the importance of multimedia technology, the impact of this is even more effective and has a further and faster worldwide reach”

“Absolutely, I think that fashion 100% has the ability to shock.” agrees Designer James Lakeland, “Even in the mainstream media, we see that TV shows, celebrities etc. are continually seeking to push the boundaries of fashion. I think this is because fashion for many people is a means of expression.” Expression was certainly the motivation for Madonna at a recent gig where she expressed her anger at the incarceration of Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot by stripping off her t-shirt to reveal the band’s name painted on her back. There’s no denying this caught the eye of the world’s media and cast a spotlight on the band’s trial and jail sentence. “Depending on where you live in the world just showing your arms is considered shocking.” adds Mary Burgess of AlliumB “Personally I love the way fashion allows you to express your own style and creativity to the world and it’s a personal choice what impression you want to create be that shock or awe or something else altogether.”

But in some cases the elaborate costumes and unusual attire can cause the artist’s music to be overshadowed by their fashion choices; anyone remember Lady Gaga having to be carried around by her security guards because she was unable to walk in her shoes? Ollia Alexandra Rarisame, creator of Rarisame, a luxury clothing label set to launch next year, thinks the theatrics are best left with the musicians, “The demand is not the same. People are somehow bored of seeing something they can’t relate to and, for the designer it’s a massive waste of their budget.”

As technology has become more accessible so has fashion, which means that often those we look to for inspiration are now the bloggers or the street style stars. Ollia continues “designers prefer giving the potential customer a showcase of what he or she can actually wear. The buyers can order as many pieces off the show as possible and the bloggers and press can take the main ideas on and deliver them to the general public.” But that’s not to say that blogs can’t be considered shocking by some audiences. Blogger Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast received a flood of abusive comments on her blog page last year after posting a street style image of herself wearing an oversized jumper and little else. Her loyal fans leapt to her defence as the jumper was covering just as much skin as if Rumi had been wearing a minidress.

Despite meat dresses, leotards and body paint it seems unlikely that we’ve seen the last of fashion’s shock factor, but one thing is for sure, catsuits are best left to celebrities, they might look great on stage but no one needs to see that at Sainsbury’s.

By Samantha Vandersteen

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