My love affair with Madonna started early. The pop star's game-changing performance at the 1984 MTV VMAs may have taken place when I was only six years old, but its ramifications reverberated throughout my youth. Madonna had taken her sexuality and the premise of virginal purity and mixed it up -- on stage, no less -- for a seriously potent cocktail. Her smudged makeup, omnipresent beauty mark and feminine curves, combined with her addictive lyrics, made her a household name pretty quickly.
By the time "Open Your Heart" hit the small screen, I was in awe. Her pixie 'do, bowler hats and baggy pants made for quite the contrast to her sexed-up performer's leotard. I saw "Desperately Seeking Susan" numerous times and permed my hair, all while longing for a beat-up leather jacket like the one Madonna wore. The tours and costumes that followed cemented Madonna's iconic status. Who could forget her cone-shaped bras courtesy of Jean-Paul Gaultier in "Truth or Dare"?
In 1997, Madonna embarked on a relationship with stylist Arianne Phillips. What followed was a style tour de force: Madonna in Chloé denim with tanned skin and golden curls for her "Ray of Light" album, Madonna in then-newcomer Olivier Theyskens as an enlightened yogi at the 1998 Academy Awards. My obsession with the singer peaked in 2004, with her "Re-Invention" tour. I saw her in concert three times in one year and I followed her obsessively on fan-sites.
But, in the past few years, the pop icon has fallen from grace in my humble opinion. Somewhere between her divorce from Guy Ritchie to her relationships with Brazilian model Jesus Luz and backup dancer Brahim Zaibat, I started to wish that her style would mature and that the leotards, fishnet stockings and sheer styles would be retired in favor of something a little more sophisticated. In an interview, I asked Arianne Phillips her thoughts on dressing for one's age, to which she responded, "I don't limit myself to thinking in a such a way." Well, then. I guess that's where looks like this one came from.
Madonna is known as the queen of reinvention. She managed to keep our attention over three decades, selling out stadiums with ease. Now, 31 years into her career, her style remains playful, sexy and irreverent, which is almost the same as when she started in the music business in the early '80s (though no one would argue that her body is in better shape now, at age 54, than it was when she was in her 20s). Her recent nipple-flash at a concert in Istanbul garnered a few raised eyebrows, but hey, this isn't the first time that Madge has bared her bod. But with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry taking the stage in outlandish getups, is Madonna's status as a forward-thinking risk-taker in jeopardy? And if so, is her style stagnating? Lastly, if her style isn't evolving, is it a sign that her music stagnating too?
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