New Romantics, Punks and Grunge are more commonly associated with music, rather than the field that carved these ideologies, and their iconic silhouette: fashion. To turn the tables of music seeking a style to match a tag line, a new album is using fashion to create its identity. American rapper and movie star, P. Diddy, has included in his latest album the vocals of fashion heavyweights. Anna Wintour, American Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, introduces listeners to P. Diddy’s new album. Her distinctive American/English twang voice can be heard at the albums start saying “This is Anna Wintour from Vogue magazine. You are now listening to the Last Train to Paris.”
Fashion is a versatile creature. It also has the ability to digest other industries, such as music and film, and so reproduce a new species. In turn this circle of life is what keeps fashion healthy and never stagnant. One can often find themselves following the styles of musicians, rather than that of the designer clothing they are wearing. In many respects, designers do not get credit for the trends they have created. Mr Sean “Puff” Combs has clearly positioned himself well so as to produce a successful hybrid between the industry he emerged from, music, and fashion.
Worth an estimated $346m, P Diddy’s fortune towers over Anna Wintour’s comparatively minuscule $35m, dismissing any assumptions that could be made based on their upbringing: Combs, in a New York housing project, Wintour by former editor of the Evening Standard, Charles Wintour. Moreover, Mr Combs has, amongst his many industry ventures, a prosperous clothing line that is self titled ‘Sean John’ to be proud of. It earned him an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He also bought the rights to Liz Claiborne’s clothing line, Enyce, for $20 million in 2008.
But how will this new unprecedented concept that is being release in P Diddy’s new album, out on the 14th December, be received. More than likely with success and future copycats – though it will be difficult for others to match the high calibre of fashion personas Diddy has rounded up for his album. Amongst his harvest of fashion’s finest, Marc Jacobs and Isaac Mizrahi also add spoken word pieces between songs. Perhaps from a fashion perspective I am analysing these mini collaborations too much. All of the individuals who vocals appear on the album have strongly referred to themselves as Mr Comb’s friends – he casually made a few phone calls to ask them for this favour. But let us not underestimate the business mindset that backs this fusion.
The former editor-at-large of American Vogue, Andre Leon Talley, who also appears, describes the moment he was asked to appear on the album, “I was somewhere doing what I usually do – previewing a collection or sitting around on the fourth floor of Manolo Blahnik’s midtown shoe emporium – when I received the invitation. Rushing to his studio, I thought about what I would say on the album, which inspired his February 2010 Vogue fashion shoot with Natalia Vodianova, photographed by Annie Leibovitz and styled by Grace Coddington, in which he appeared with the swagger and elegance of Cary Grant in a gorgeous shawl-collared camel double-breasted coat by Tom Ford.” The photo shoot in question (pictured) is yet another hybrid of the ‘mushion’ breed. Diddy’s presence in the images in many elements is more captivating that the model. His authority, poise and attitude radiate from every picture.
In the album, Talley can be heard reading a piece by American novelist James Baldwin, adding a sprinkle of literature and film to the new genre: ‘mushion’. The pretentious act of using a popular culture figure to read the influential works of a substantial civil rights activist will fit the fashion industry snugly. It once again demonstrates the permeable channels that fashion can flow between. However, can this new three way relationship survive?
There are many worries that can be attached to the album Last Train to Paris. Will Anna Wintour produce a mix tape? Will it encourage other figures, such as politicians, to collaborate with musicians? Well certainly not between David Cameron and The Smiths. But if there is anyone capable of successfully released this genre to the world, I feel confident that P Diddy is the man for the job.