Couture du Jour—February 21, 2006

By Sarah Cohan

Her hair is pulled back in a large coif that sits on top of her forehead, plastered perfectly in place with unknown products that her hairdresser Danilo meticulously combed through her hair. A white ponytail falls down her back, and big silver hoop earrings bounce around as she babbles away to the press. Gwen Stefani produced her first runway show during New York Fashion Week in September 2005, marking the launch of her career in fashion design.

This platinum blonde with a small figure broke into entertainment back in 1996 with her band No Doubt. Ten years later, she has many achievements: five CDs released with her band, a solo album, and two fashion lines (L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers). So why is this bubblegum pop queen—who is more than three times the age of her average fan—so beloved?

It all started in Anaheim, home of the happiest place on earth, Disneyland, and the Stefani household. Gwen Renee Stefani was born in October 1969 into a half-Italian family of six. Gwen grew up around music. Her brother Eric preferred the upbeat sound of ska, sharing this love with Gwen. She wanted to sit and watch TV all day rather than mess around with Eric’s band.

But Gwen was eventually sucked into music. Her first collaboration with her brother was a song entitled “Stick It to the Hole,” about a pencil sharpener. After that, Gwen decided to sing backup for John Spence with her brother playing keyboard, and the three of them performed at a high school talent show. She asked her mom to sew a blue dress for her like Maria’s in The Sound of Music.

They began to actually get paid for their gigs, when they started playing in Anaheim venues. Gwen was thrown into the role of lead singer after Spence committed suicide. The band broke up for a few days, but it was eventually decided that Spence would have wanted them to continue. No Doubt was soon signed to Interscope Records.

A newly dyed blonde, Gwen Stefani was ready for her first out-of-state performance. While only 100 people came to their Arizona concert, it was a huge deal for No Doubt. By this time, No Doubt had collected three new members: bassist Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont, and drummer Adrian Young. But their first album did not sell well, and Interscope was not interested in funding a tour. Unfazed, No Doubt decided to continue on their own and produced the popular Tragic Kingdom. Gwen Stefani became the image of the band and continued to gain popularity for her unique voice, creative lyrics, and far-out fashion sense.

In 2005, after finishing her solo album and in the middle of a tour, Stefani finished Fashion Week with her debut L.A.M.B fashion show. Gwen described the fall/winter line as “a little Sound of Music, some Orange County chola girl, some Rasta, and a bit of The Great Gatsby.” Purple cars with hydraulics bounced up and down on the side of the runway while the models strutted in their L.A.M.B. outfits.

The show was a success, with Gwen coming out afterward to take a bow and plant a kiss on Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s cheek. Since then, Gwen has launched the Harajuku Lovers line, which is directed at angry fans who can’t afford L.A.M.B. prices. (The Harajuku Lovers line is still too expensive for my tastes, and definitely not worth the money, but it can be found in Urban Outfitters if you’re interested.)

Just as Gwen Stefani finished up her tour in December 2005, it was leaked to the press and her fans that she was, in fact, pregnant. No one knows what this pop queen will do next, but my guess is that maternity wear will definitely make its way into the L.A.M.B collection. Will No Doubt ever get back together again? Now that Gwen is married, has a fashion line, a solo album, and a baby on the way, what will she have to sing about? I suppose only time will tell what is to come from this blonde bombshell.