LOUD AND TASTELESS: Karen O. from Yeah Yeah Yeahs

FEATURES|Loud & Tasteless|Recent

Every Thursday, AF profiles a style icon from the music world. This week, we bring you Karen O, whose loud mixed patterns and punk rock glam has been setting trends for over a decade.


When Yeah Yeah Yeahs released Fever To Tell in 2003, Karen O already had a reputation as one of the New York dance-punk scene’s most brazen babes.  Her off-the-wall aesthetic extended from her fashion sense, to her outrageous behavior, the band’s raw glam rock sound, the DIY-inspired album and artwork and merch, and the band’s cool, creepy videos.  What was hard to imagine back then was that Karen O would be able to keep up with her own antics.  But ten years later, she’s only grown more creative, remaining a true visionary when it comes to owning an outfit.

Karen O’s madcap style grew out of her beginnings as a visual artist.  Her crazed costume collaborations with Christian Joy put her on the style map from the get-go.  Part wardrobe, part wearable art installation, Karen’s outfits were just the beginning of her rowdy performance persona.  She has said in interviews that certain outfits served like a Superman costume, imbuing her with momentous power and confidence.  She’s never given up her classic mic-swallowing, water-spitting moves, even as her style has evolved.

From outrageous patterns far wild than your typical animal print to gold and silver lamé bubble dresses, one-of-a-kind kimonos, and custom-made costumes, you’d have to get a little crafty to totally emulate Karen O’s style.  When she’s not modeling berserk ornaments and prints, she’s keeping it cool with studs, but even her trusty leather jacket is personalized with her initials.  In the video for “Despair,” she rocks a yellow jacket, studs on the collar – classy and edgy simultaneously!

Accompanying her sterling jackets are usually silk-screened tees, with some kitschy images like hearts, coffee cups, or lipstick.  Other times she goes for simple stripes.  Karen O ais one of the most elegant and edgy punk-rock chicks to ever dress for the stage. We’ve provided some suggestions for incorporating her bad-ass style into your own look on our Pinterest board below.  Browse while listening to one of this avant-garde fashionista’s most recent jams here:

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