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The Many Looks of Taylor Swift’s Time Travel and What They Mean

Oscar de la Renta. Versace. Alberta Ferretti. Roberto Cavalli. Eli Szabo. Christian Louboutin. Zuhair Murad. Ashish. The list of designers who dress for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, which began a little over a month ago in Arizona, ended in California in August, and then headed overseas, was like a fashion week mini-tour, full of glitter, chiffon and message T shirt.

Not surprisingly, the resulting dress-up extravaganza was met with a heart-pounding reception. So many clothes! sparkling with light! very funny! There are pages of stories online panting about “everything Taylor Swift has worn on her era’s world tour” (as Elle Australia puts it). New styles are emerging, bringing new reach. As if sheer wardrobe enrichment was an achievement in itself.

possible. The logistics alone were daunting: How do you make so many changes so quickly in the middle of a show?

Of course, as we head into Diva’s summer, it raises the bar for the artists who will be touring next: Madonna, who’s on a retrospective tour (imagine the styling that might involve that), and Beyoncé, who set the bar in August, when Her profile peaked when she released a similar teaser with the “I’m That Girl” trailer, in which at least seven looks are compressed into minutes, from cyborg goddess to cowboy sadism to Killer Audrey Hepburn.

But it’s also possible to see something else in all these Swiftian outfits. In fact, they might not just be a trip down memory lane, but a more poignant meta-commentary, expecting female pop stars to unveil new versions of themselves for our viewing pleasure, enhancing their old images endlessly with new wardrobes. There was also a message that Ms Swift may have been putting the whole thing to rest.

The promise of reinvention is a core American value: the belief that everyone has the right to start over and that you are limited only by your imagination and capabilities. It’s intrinsically linked to the promise of fashion, and it likewise exudes a new you; allowing you to experiment with different selves until you settle into one that feels right.

Yet, as Ms. Swift says in her 2020 documentary Miss America, she has developed a habit of embedding meaning in her wardrobe choices, which is its own prison.

“I know female artists who reinvent themselves 20 times more than male artists,” she says in a voiceover near the film’s end, as her various public personas flash by: teenage Taylor, with her Gold curls, sparkly blue eye shadow and a princess dress; “1989” Taylor, in a ironed bob and sparkling bodysuit;

It’s necessary, Ms Swift continued, otherwise “you’re out of a job”.

At the time she was talking about her newfound political voice and her new album, Lover (now three albums, with at least two Taylor albums: Earth Fairy Taylor on “Folklore” and “Evermore,” and “Midnight”) . But in many ways, her meaning is laid bare (so to speak) in her Eras Tour.

Each musical era revisited in the show has — and has — its own look, all 10 or so. Watching her go through them one after another not only sees beautiful clothes worn with purpose, but also the ever-changing hamster wheel that has served as the poster child for contemporary female pop stars since Madonna set the tone in the 1980s.

This is especially true when compared to another musical act, Bruce Springsteen, who is now touring to similar response and acclaim. Mr Springsteen, 73, hasn’t changed much in 50 years. He still wears ripped jeans and a denim shirt, bracelets on his wrists and boots on his feet.

To be fair, there are some male rock stars who have made a game by reinventing it: most notably David Bowie, but to some extent, Harry Styles (although he usually wear a statement outfit). Other women — Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith — bucked the trend.

But it’s also true, says Kathy Iandoli, an adjunct professor at NYU Steinhardt and author of “God Saved the Queens: An Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop,” that the pressure to dress up and change is multiplying. falls on women. “1000 percent,” Ms. Iandoli said. “Being a female pop star, a certain level of clothing is a way for labels to sell ideas. If you’re known as an evolutionary artist, you’re always going to be asked ‘what’s your next version?'”

Ms. Swift has turned this pressure to her ends as shrewdly as anyone else. Her makeover coincides with her sonic evolution, unlike the main character makeover in Lady Gaga’s version of “A Star Is Born,” in which the studio bigwigs imposed their latest discoveries on Creamsicle hairstyles, new outfits and New Dance Moves – After her husband died, she rejected her own rendition.

By contrast, Ms. Swift (and her stylist, Joseph Cassell Falconer) have been her own wardrobe hostesses, and her fans (many of whom show up in their favorite Taylor pieces) understandably.

But even fashion music makeover guru Gaga seemed to defy the imperative at this year’s Oscars, slipping into another eye-catching gown for her performance in ripped jeans and a black T-shirt , subverting everyone’s expectations and rubbing her face, as if saying to the watching world: Enough is enough.

Oscar de la Renta’s creative director, Fernando Garcia, created a lavender faux fur coat for the tour, paired with a crystal embroidered T-shirt dress and a midnight blue crystal embroidered hoodie. Leggings, she said to work with the ladies. Swift on Eras felt “very much like a full circle moment”. If so, perhaps it’s also a sign that another era is coming to an end.

At one point at the Eras show, when Ms. Swift was singing “Look What You Made Me Do,” all the old Taylors were embodied in different little glass boxes by different dancers in different costumes—all those mini The past, trapped in their own limited space, in their old wardrobe, is finally able to break free.

As fashion metaphors go, it’s hard to miss.

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