Raw Icon : PJ Harvey
Posted: Sep 29 2016
Unshaven and unfussy in her underwear, writhing with revolting elegance, she’s a pin-up punk in smeared make-up theatricality, a self-proclaimed once Joan Crawford on acid. Polly Jean Harvey’s sarcastic sartorial sucker-punch hit it and never quit it, bursting the 90s grunge bubble with a raw rocker rip.
She screamed, “My babe looking cool and neat, I’m pretty sure good enough to eat,” donned Docs with black leggings and a turtleneck, toned down as she tuned to ten. But with each musical endeavor the singer/songwriter/guitarist crept toward creature aesthete, swinging stylistically to shake shit up.
For PJ, undressing and dressing is a guise game: hyper-feminine to power predator persona, bare-faced blatancy to chaotic Cleopatra. When other wild women headbanged in babydolls, Ms. Harvey went testy and tighter – catsuits that clung, hellbound high heels, fitted false lashes.
When her peers paraded in plaid she wanted to make it naked on her ’92 cover of NME. Though Harvey sings and styles a romance rebellion, moaning “That was my veil” in vintage Victoriana, her sex appeal is real times real. Short and skimpy, red and raunchy; these are as much her dernier cri as the layered loveliness of gown glitz, patented PJ because of a sneak-a-peek lacey black bra.
The momentum muse upcycle’s Spice Girls tees with cheeky humor, does Demeulemeester as a corseted and straight-jacketed poet warrioress, then sleekly suits up with gauzey drama. PJ Harvey gives glam tutorials we can trust: Legs look longer with the help of a leotard. Bushy eyebrows are bold beneath scraped back wet hair. Crazy cosmetics are funny and frightening and fucking intense. For an enlightened legacy, don’t ever leave them dry.