More Leather, Less Rhinestones

Adam said that that’s his current thing – that his album is going to be less camp and more heartfelt. It will certainly be more personal because he wants writing credit on all the songs, but this post isn’t about the music for an album still in its beginning stages. (I am pleased at how excited the media seems to be at the prospect, though.)

This is about the fashion. We all know clothes are important to Adam – that was clear even to the judges on Idol. And it’s been very apparent that Adam has been experimenting with a change in image since the tour ended. He grew (and removed) a beard; he put in (and removed) long extensions to his hair, but he’s also kept the very interesting and attractive brown highlights he added.

There has been other changes, too. He seems to have stretched out his ears a bit more, which makes me less than happy, but I’m already getting used to it. I will miss his fleur de lis earrings, though. He’s worn significantly less makeup, although he’s not given it up and he got himself all pretty for his post-grammy parties.

Adam has absolutely toned down the glitter. It’s been reserved for his jewelry (and that’s as abundant as ever), some metal studs and a tiny bit around his eyes just for the glam of it. Remember, the word was “less”, not “no”.

Why has he done this? I don’t think it’s because he wants to conform to societal norms of masculinity. I don’t think he cares. He’s as much rock star as genderbender, and he doesn’t want to limit himself totally to any notion anyway. And he IS still keeping his finger and toenails polished.

Also, as romantic as the notion is, I don’t think it’s that he has (maybe) a new boyfriend who prefers the fresher look.

I also do NOT believe he’s abandoning glam.

Adam spent six months living one definition of glam – pure camp. He all but bathed in glitter and rhinestones, the leather in his costumes subordinate to their sparkle. And one could tell he loved every moment of it, from the glitter round his eyes to the embroidery on his shirt to the crystals on his leather boots. And it was glorious and wonderful to watch, too. It fit his show and the songs he sang. Yes,the rest of the time, he lived in t-shirts and jeans and flipflops (or, in Europe, boots and winter coats because poor bb was cold), but there is stage and there is real life and Adam very much knows the difference.

So maybe he’s bored with it for the moment. Maybe he just needs a break for a minute. That’s a perfectly good reason to change things up – and we all know Adam has fashion ADD, so it even makes sense. Six months doing glitter is a lot for a man who can’t keep the same hairstyle for two weeks.

Then there’s the fact that he’s in celebrity mode right now, making public appearances and getting caught by paparazzi. Now, for most of that, it doesn’t matter what he wears because it’s all nominally private time, but he is doing talk shows, red carpets and events. And I’m pretty sure he’ll be performing SOMETHING in the next few months, whether in a casino or the Idol stage or on a talk show.

Adam is known for his flamboyant style. The problem with that is expectations. Look at Lady Gaga – she’s an amazing performance artist, or maybe she was. Her big thing, besides spectacle, singable songs and a bit of piano playing, is shock value. She HAS to be bigger, weirder, more elaborate, more Oh MY GOD each time she performs. That’s how she built her career. And she went into it eyes wide open – she’s a very smart woman. But there’s a limit on how much bigger she can get – and there’s also a limit on the audience’s appetite for this. Yesterday was an example – people are treating it like a joke, not a spectacle. And there are definite signs of boredom. Gaga knows this, but there’s not much she can do.

Adam could easily get to the same point of diminishing returns, but he’s at least as intelligent as Gaga, and has decided to not go that route. By choosing to go in a different direction, he prevents audience fatigue – more, he keeps them and the media interested – what IS he going to wear at this event? How is he going to make it his own as much as he makes music his own?

He is STILL glam even without so much glitter and sparkle. Glam is short for glamorous, after all. Look at his outfits the past few days – avante-garde fashion with his own touches. Look at his Clive party suit – beautifully tailored and interesting pin-stripe suit with an unusual hemline on the jacket and skull buttons, paired with the Alexander McQueen skull and bone shirt, a bronze tie that picked up the colors from the suit and went with his gold (unusual for him) jewelry. Not a combination many people would choose, between the colors and the patterns, but it worked – he stood out in that crowd of black suits while looking completely appropriate. This is not sparkly or glittery, but it is also not shy or understated. It’s a man completely confident in his choices, and in looking like himself. Notice there was not a single negative remark. It was as effective as the silver suit with the tie-knot cover last year. And yes, we, his loyal fans, recognized the various pieces, but that’s part of the charm – and at least he had his birthday party suit tailored correctly.

And then there was his Grammy outfit. I am on twitter-record as predicting that Adam would wear an impeccably tailored, classic tuxedo. It fits both his need to surprise and the way his current looks are evolving. I was wrong. At least in part.

He wore an impeccably tailored (thank you, stylist, for making sure he gets this done) MODERN tuxedo. And he made it more his own by making a snakeskin shawl collar. I’m not sure if he also used snakeskin for the ribbons on his pantslegs in this custom suit – but Adam has added sparkly tuxedo ribbons to jeans, so it’s certainly possible.

And the styling was perfect and on pitch. Look at that suit – beautiful formal cut set apart with the leather, right? There’s even a cummerbund. Make ONE change – button up the shirt and add a shiny leather long tie – and he could wear it to the Oscars and no one would blink. He’d still end up as one of the best dressed men. Oh, he’s probably not going to the Oscars and he can’t wear that suit so soon anyway, but he COULD. But that would be the wrong look for the Grammys. By wearing the shirt unbuttoned with just a couple of necklaces, he made that glamorous suit perfectly rock star. Like I said, pitch perfect, and he’s reaping the rewards. And this with just a touch of glitter on his eyes and his sparkly boots.

And the best part of this look – he doesn’t have to top it. He’s avante-garde and a little rock-star eccentric, not shocking. He can stay at this level, combining old and new clothing, or recombining old clothing, and still keep it fresh and interesting, and look gorgeous. He’s done this all along – the current change in leather/rhinestone ratio will just make the combinations different. And when he decides he wants to be glittery again – and he will – it will also be fresh and new, and possibly different than his last trip there.

There’s more to it than fashion, of course. Adam has learned from the best – Madonna. To achieve longevity, one has to constantly change and reinvent oneself both musically and visually, while remaining true to one’s own essence. Adam can do this in his own way. And it’s going to be such fun watching it happen in the next few years.


About mamadeb

I'm a devoted fan of Adam Lambert, but also of cooking, knitting, science fiction and pretty anything pop culture. I'm @_mamadeb on Twitter.
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3 Responses to More Leather, Less Rhinestones

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention More Leather, Less Rhinestones | Disco Rodeo --

  2. barbara kleinschmidt says:

    i so enjoy reading your commentary!………..such wonderful insight….right on…………..

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