Björk, Still Using Style to Captivate

One might be hard pressed to recall which film took home best picture at the 2001 Academy Awards. But what Björk wore to the ceremony may evoke a different response.

The singer, who was nominated for best original song for “I’ve Seen It All,” from Lars von Trier’s film “Dancer in the Dark,” in which she also starred, strode down the red carpet in a dress designed by Marjan Pejoski. In true Björk fashion, it wasn’t just any dress. The creation — a cluster of white tulle and feathers that came to an apex in the form of a swan with its neck draped over the shoulder — didn’t immediately register as a fashion moment. The look was panned by fashion critics, a regular on worst-dressed lists and the subject of talk-show roasts.

Years later, the memory of the “swan dress” has endured. Featured at a Met Gala exhibit and a familiar entry in the Halloween costume genre, Björk’s dress was a meme before memes and internet spoofs had a place in the cultural consciousness. It was red carpet performance art before the arrival of Lady Gaga’s meat dress or Billy Porter’s mechanical diamanté cowboy hat.

Between Bjork’s genre-busting music and avant-garde fashion choices, the world has always been a few strides behind her. Few pop stars dared to wear the inventive creations of Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe or Hussein Chalayan in the ’90s, but Björk immortalized the looks on her album covers and gave them lives beyond the runways.

Decades deep into her career, Björk still has not diluted the potency of her expressive taste. She’s embarked on five tours over the past 10 years; each is a full-scale production with whizzing light schemes, surrealist landscapes and orchestral ensembles emphasizing every note.

Clothes remain essential expressions of the Björk experience. For a 2019 performance in New York, her longtime collaborator the designer Iris van Herpen devised a moving dress, which Ms. van Herpen has described as “inspired by a future orchid-avatar that is hovering like an aura around her body,” that illuminated Björk onstage. Other designers have also lent some of their most off-kilter pieces for her performances, including the voluminous Balenciaga ball gown from its summer 2020 collection that Björk wore during her Orkestral Tour in Iceland and the puffer ball gown from Pierpaolo Piccioli for Moncler she wore this year at the Bluedot festival in England. Bjork also found an admirer in Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, who designed a crimson latex dress for her music video “Ovule,” from her new album, “Fossora.” Here is a look back at Björk’s most momentous fashion moments.

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