Glam rock has always been one of the more colourful alternative styles. Evolving from traditionally darker and more masculine styles such as goth and punk, glam rock offered glitter, colour, and androgynous style in spades! But what is glam rock? Where did it come from? Is it still relevant to the alternative scene? We’ll answer all of your glam rock related questions and more in our glam rock style guide!
What Is Glam Rock?
First made popular in the early 70s, glam rock was characterised by its iconic sense of fashion just as much as its sound. Famous for its predominantly male-centric bands and their eccentric, feminine sense of style, glam rock brought all the hard-hitting volume loved by rock fans and brought a healthy dose of glitter and mayhem along for the ride.
While glam rock had a distinct look and style, a large part of glam rock was the attitude. Glam rock musicians created larger than life characters that they played out in a theatrical way – think about Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, one of the pioneers of glam rock, and later in the glam rock movement, Alice Cooper. Both presented these huge personalities with a distinct look and performance style that played into androgynous style and a heavy rock sound.
What Does Glam Rock Sound Like?
Glam rock sought to stand out from the mainstream rock tunes of the 60s – rock might have been a rebellion, but glam rock was a “rebellion against the rebellion” according to Robert Palmer. The sound of glam rock relied on heavy guitars and a hard-rock feel, drawing on punk influences and big personas.
Bands and artists such as David Bowie KISS, Def Leppard and Motley Crue are among some of the biggest acts commonly known as being pioneers of glam rock, but artists such as Queen, Elton John and Alice Cooper all contributed to the glam rock movement that continued from the early 70s right throughout the 80s.
What Does Glam Rock Look Like?
The main appeal of glam rock was in its androgyny. The concept of men wearing flamboyant and feminine clothing was still a shock to the mainstream in the 70s, but led by musicians such as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, the rock scene began to welcome the glam rock look with even the most staunchly ‘masculine’ fans growing their hair long and wearing makeup.
From platform boots to feather boas, the glam rock look invited in all kinds of larger than life looks that clashed colours and prints then covered them all in glitter. Some of the more common styles and patterns you’d find on the glam rock scene included:
- Spandex jumpsuits
- Platform boots
- Leather jackets
- Flared trousers
- Silk shirts
- Velvet jackets
- Silk scarves
- Feather boas
- Animal print
What Is Classic Glam Rock Style?
The ‘classic glam’ era ran throughout the 60s and 70s – the fashion side of glam rock had started to seep into the mainstream via bands such as Led Zeppelin and T.Rex, but it wasn’t until the 70s that David Bowie created his Ziggy Stardust persona and rang in the classic glam rock era. His theatrical performances as Ziggy Stardust, combined with his fashion choices which included androgynous clothing, glittery boots and bold patterns, inspired other bands and artists to get bolder with their looks too. From the New York Dolls to Sweet, classic glam rock set itself apart from the traditionally masculine rock that had been popular in the 60s.
What Is Post Glam Rock Style?
While we might associate glam rock with bands such as KISS and Motley Crue, it wasn’t actually until the 80s and the post glam rock style that these bands became famous. These bands paid homage to their glam rock predecessors, but went much bolder again with their looks to create offshoots such as glam metal, heavy metal and hair metal. Men’s hairstyles got bigger and more backcombed, the androgyny of the 70s leaped into cross dressing and gender bending territory, the music became heavier and the style with it, loading on studs, spikes and tons of makeup.
What Is New Era Glam Rock Style?
Glam rock faded back underground after the 80s, but many alternative fans and musicians were still taking note and drawing inspiration from the glam rock musicians of the 70s and 80s. Lady Gaga has often credited David Bowie as her fashion inspiration, and rock bands such as Black Veil Brides incorporate glam rock style into their look for a blend of goth, punk and glam.
Is Glam Rock Still Alive?
Glam rock bands who are still performing such as KISS and Guns n Roses still play heavily into the glam rock look, plus bands who idolise (and parody!) the glam rock style such as Steel Panther are keeping the glam rock look alive even today.
How Can I Get The Glam Rock Look?
Glam rock is all about creating a loud statement with your clothing to back up your loud personality – so make sure you take patterns and prints, clash ‘em together and go for a more is more approach! Anything that strikes you as colourful and flamboyant but with a punk edge should serve any glam rock look, and make sure you get experimental with the hair and makeup too! Check out our punk fashion collection as a base, then rummage around in our cosmetics collection to complete your look.