ABOUT THE EXHIBIT
Six-time GRAMMY Award-winner Amy Winehouse has been widely renowned not just as a British music icon and pop royalty, but as a trendsetting fashion influencer. To celebrate the late singer’s iconic outfits and impact on music, the GRAMMY Museum proudly presents Beyond Black – The Style Of Amy Winehouse.
Beyond Black — The Style Of Amy Winehouse offers a retrospective of Winehouse’s career, her biggest influences, her most memorable fashion moments, and how she — while only living to be 27 and releasing two studio albums — left an indelible mark on music, fashion and pop culture.
Once described by Rolling Stone as fashion’s “Roman Candle,” Amy Winehouse was one of the most fascinating and talented artists of her generation. Her music, soulful and unflinching, crossed generations and genres; her style, a modern take on a sultry 1950s pin-up, put the fashion world on notice. In just a few short years, Winehouse became a trendsetter and muse for designers, from Fendi and Chanel to the more accessible Victoria’s Secret and Guess, inspiring numerous ad campaigns and runway looks.
At the peak of her career in the mid-2000s, Winehouse performed around the world, appeared on magazine covers, and won awards from both the music and fashion industries. Her look and sound combined old school R&B, jazz lounge cool, and hip-hop swagger with a touch of rockabilly. She also paid tribute to her influences, ranging from legendary artists Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, and the Shangri-Las, to Salt-N-Pepa, Beastie Boys, and Erykah Badu.
Sadly, Winehouse released only two albums before her untimely death at age 27 in 2011.
Born in north London in September 1983, Amy Winehouse was a gregarious child and natural performer, attending some of the UK’s most prestigious performing arts schools. Many in her extended family were musically inclined, including her uncles and father. She was especially close to her grandmother, Cynthia, who instilled a love for jazz and fashion at a young age.
After learning to play her brother’s guitar, Winehouse started writing songs and booking local shows. In her late teens, she signed management and recording contracts, and by age 20, she recorded her first album, Frank, with lauded producer Salaam Remi.
For her second album, Winehouse split duties between Remi and up-and-coming producer Mark Ronson. The result: five-time GRAMMY winner, Back to Black, which cemented her place in pop culture as one of the decade’s most provocative artists. The album catapulted her to worldwide fame and spawned several hits, including her best-known single, “Rehab.”
Amy’s Personal Style
Much like her sound, Winehouse’s style evolved between her first and second albums. She maintained a casual daily wardrobe of low-slung jeans, tank tops, polo shirts, and ballet slippers but amplified her hair and makeup. Her eveningwear was often intermingled with her tour wardrobe, including flirty dresses, vibrant bras, and heels. She likened her dramatic look to “armor” and putting on her “game face.”
At the same time, Winehouse’s love for vintage style carried over to her 14 tattoos. Many of them recognizable, including the two hearts used on her Fred Perry line and the bird insignia used by the Amy Winehouse Foundation, her most meaningful tattoo was the pinup tribute to her beloved grandmother, Cynthia Winehouse.
“Relationships with people – with your mum, your nan, your dog – are what you get the most happiness in life from. Apart from shoes and bags.”
– Amy Winehouse, 2004 interview with the Independent
Artifacts on this wall include some of Winehouse’s favorite accessories:
- Jonathan Kelsey “Amy” pumps – top left
- Leopard print make up bag
- Vintage gold and red clutch – contents include London Metro card, receipts, and a smoothie coupon
- Moschino heart bag worn with yellow Preen dress to the 2007 Brit Awards
- Roberts Revival radio
- Fendi precious stone and metal belt
- Laura Mercier body butter and Givenchy perfume, Amy’s signature scents
- “Bam Bam” earrings, custom made for Amy by Patricia Field, fashion designer and Sex and the City costume designer
Amy on the Red Carpet
Although Amy Winehouse released just two albums, she was nominated for more than 50 awards and attended many award ceremonies in the US and Europe. She won a total of 23 from the music and fashion industries, including the GRAMMYs, Brits, MTV, MOBO, Ivor Novello, Urban Music, World Music, Elle, InStyle, Glamour, and the Q Awards.
At the start of her career, Winehouse often recycled the same outfits for award shows, performances, and publicity appearances. As her look evolved, her stylist worked closely with designers to dress Winehouse in her signature silhouette – short skirts and bustier tops, form-fitting dresses, heels, and statement jewelry. She insisted on wearing French lingerie, usually showing a peek, and enhanced the work of her make-up artist and hair stylist after they had finished.
Amy’s GRAMMY Awards
GRAMMY Awards, Amy Winehouse
50th Annual GRAMMY Awards, February 10, 2008
- Record Of The Year, “Rehab”
- Song Of The Year, “Rehab”
- Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, “Rehab”
- Best Pop Vocal Album, Back to Black
- Best New Artist
As Amy’s schedule became more demanding, her trusted stylist, Naomi Parry, put together outfits for the singer, always keeping to her signature silhouette. For shows, Parry kept it simple, although there were several occasions where Winehouse was sewn into her dress or adjusted something last minute because she wanted it shorter. There were no wardrobe changes during performances, unless you count kicking off her heels in favor of her beloved ballet slippers after a few songs. For most performances, her band wore charcoal grey Hugo Boss slim fit suits for a classic look.
Naomi Parry and Amy Winehouse began working together after a chance meeting while out with friends. After developing a close friendship, Winehouse tapped Parry, then a design student, to help change her look. Soon after, Parry began styling Winehouse’s wardrobe for everything from award shows to tours and photo shoots, and introduced her to the idea of working with Fred Perry. They also discussed designing a clothing line together, eventually creating a collection – part of which is on display here – for Winehouse’s 2011 tour that was later cancelled.
A London-based creative director and costume designer, Parry continues to work with the Amy Winehouse Foundation to raise awareness and funding, and further Winehouse’s legacy.
Amy Winehouse x Fred Perry Collection
The Amy Winehouse x Fred Perry Collection began as a natural extension of the singer’s personal style. Launched in 1952 by British tennis pro Fred Perry, the brand’s preppy aesthetic appealed to the retro style Winehouse loved to modernize with rolled cuffs, popped collars, and cinched waist belts.
The inaugural collection debuted in October 2010 and featured six pieces in a black and pink palette. As a longtime fan of the brand, Winehouse participated in design meetings to weigh in on fabric, color, and styling details. She paid particular attention to proportion and fit to achieve the sexy look she preferred. Winehouse filled notebooks with drawings, often sketching design ideas for an entire season in one sitting. Future collections expanded to incorporate leopard prints and sporty classics, each featuring her signature doodle – two heart patches.
The partnership continues today with proceeds benefiting the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
Fast friends for years, Catriona Gourlay and Amy Winehouse bonded over their love for vintage clothes and the 1950s girl group “stand-by-your-man” ethos. They lived together in Winehouse’s Camden home leading up to her writing and recording Back to Black.
Back then, Gourlay worked in vintage shops on Camden’s trendy High Street, an area that was Winehouse’s creative and cultural epicenter. It was during this time that her look transitioned from sporty casualwear to the iconic style she became known for – beehive bouffant, heavy winged eyeliner, tattoos, and fitted silhouettes.
Catriona works in the music industry and continues to support the Amy Winehouse Foundation through their music programmes.
Amy’s Music Collection
This is a selection of music from Amy Winehouse’s personal collection. She adored the old school cool of Frank Sinatra and Dinah Washington, as well as upbeat and edgy hip-hop, R&B, rock, and ska.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation was established by the singer’s family after her untimely death in 2011. Based in the UK, the foundation’s mission includes drug and alcohol prevention programs, music education, personal development, and ‘Amy’s Place’, an addiction recovery center for women.