Star Style: Gwen Stefani
HAT OF THE MATTER
"This is a complete performance piece," says PEOPLE style director Susan Kaufman of Stefani's look at the American Music Awards (on Nov. 14, with her entourage of backup dancers). "It's just pure fantasy and costume." And it's the start of another fashion era for the daring singer, 35: "She's out promoting her solo album and she's discovering a new look for it."
Stefani wows in a sexy outfit from her L.A.M.B. design line at a party to promote her handbags (in New York City in 2003). "When she walked in the room, people gasped," says Kaufman of her "glamorous but still modern" ensemble.
RED, RED FINE
"She really stood out from the crowd" at the 2001 Grammy Awards, says Kaufman of Stefani's red 1950s-style Christian Dior dress. "Here, she's almost channeling Marilyn Monroe. She was hands down the winner of the red carpet."
DISPLAY OF A FASHION
Stefani hits the streets of Los Angeles in a plaid coat from her L.A.M.B. line (in October) and manages to take "a classic silhouette – the trench coat – and bring her own twist to it," says Kaufman.
TYING ONE ON
"This is an example of where she's mixing so many different influences up," says Kaufman of Stefani (at the Super Bowl in 2002). "For the most part, it's menswear – it's the bowler hat, it's the tartan gauchos, but then the feminine touch is the bra top." Though it's not a look many could make work, says Kaufman, "she can pull it off."
For the Vanity Fair Oscar party in L.A. in February, Stefani puts her own stamp on classic Hollywood glamor. "This is probably Gwen at her most sophisticated and elegant," says Kaufman of the singer's Alexander McQueen gown and marabou wrap. "She didn't choose a simple black dress or a solid color. It's still got a pattern, she's still mixing it up."
"What I love about this is she will use her albums and her music – all of her influences come together in her fashion," says Kaufman of Stefani's graffiti-covered jeans and reggae-inspired wristbands (during an L.A. performance promoting the No Doubt album Rock Steady in 2001). "She's got her houndstooth fabric bandeau coupled with her low-riding pants and then the Rasta thing."
IN THE JEANS
"This is such a great mix of glamor and streetwear," Kaufman says of Stefani (in West Hollywood in 2003). "You're not going to see her in boot-cut jeans and a top."
Stefani "experiments with all kinds of global influences" in her fashions, says Kaufman. India is a huge inspiration for the singer, who sports a vibrant, multicolored sari and bindi (the jewels Indian women wear on their foreheads) at an L.A. charity event in 1997.
A DRESS TO REMEMBER
Stefani's "fantasy wedding dress from Christian Dior" allows the singer (at her London wedding in 2002) to "make her own style statement because of its pink color," says Kaufman. "Anyone who can take their wedding dress and make this kind of a style statement with it is a fashion trendsetter."
GET THE BOOT
During a Grammy Awards performance in 2003, Stefani is sexy without being "over the top," says Kaufman. "Because she has that innocent sex appeal, she can get away with the thigh-high boots." And Stefani knows what works onstage and what doesn't, says Kaufman: "You'd never see her out on the street in this."
"It's a bit grown-up and womanly look that's still fun," says Kaufman of Stefani's 1940s-inspired Louis Vuitton ensemble at the MTV Video Music Awards (in August). "She's having a femme moment. The details of the outfit are very romantic," but the red flower adorning her hair vamps up the look.
"She's gone platinum, she's gone pink, she's gone fuchsia," says Kaufman of Stefani's ever-changing hair color. Add bright blue to that list at the MTV Video Music Awards (in 1998). "That's what makes her so fun." Plus, "You can't beat the furry bikini top," says Kaufman.
WHAT A L.A.M.B.
The singer is the picture of downtown "street chic" with a red tank top from her L.A.M.B. fashion line, black cigarette pants and Christian Dior mules, says Kaufman of Stefani (in New York City in August). "I love this look because if you were to compare her to a gamine or Audrey Hepburn, it's the Gwen Stefani take on it."
THE FULL BLEND
"Going the distance mixing color and pattern," is a hallmark of Stefani's style, says Kaufman. Here, Stefani (at a Hollywood movie premiere in June) takes a favorite motif – the nautical look – and mixes bright green sailor pants with a flirty crop top. "It all works on her."