The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle on Her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Fashion Looks
It was a long time coming.
This year, finally, the all-female punk band The Go-Go’s was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
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The ceremony and concert was in Cleveland at the end of October, with fellow inductees Tina Turner, Foo Fighters and L.L. Cool J present, among others, but it’s just now airing Nov. 20 on HBO Max.
Drew Barrymore introduces The Go-Go’s onstage, calling them “the first band I ever loved,” and donning a towel and face cream as a nod to the 1981 album cover “Beauty and the Beat” to prove it.
Carlisle, known in the early 1980s for her DIY style, wearing impossibly chic garbage bag dresses on stage, for example, turned to her longtime friend, designer Jeannine Braden to dress her.
Braden’s brand Le Superbe struck the perfect balance between punk and polish, with Carlisle wearing several items from the holiday collection, including a jeweled sweater, cosmic-patterned pleated skirt, tulle-and-denim pencil skirt and gold sequin dusted smoking jacket.
“I wanted to be sparkly for the occasion…This was comfortable but it was my taste, and I’ve never worn anything like that on stage. I usually go barefoot,” said Carlisle of the sequin cosmic pleated skirt and jeweled turtleneck sweater she wears to sing with the band their hits “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.”
“Formed out of the diverse and egalitarian punk scene in Los Angeles in 1978 with Belinda Carlisle on lead vocals and Jane Wiedlin on rhythm guitar and vocals, the core lineup of the band solidified over the next few years with the additions of lead guitarist and keyboardist Charlotte Caffey, drummer Gina Schock, and bassist Kathy Valentine. Known for their raw and energetic live shows, the Go-Go’s circumvented record label sexism and signed with IRS Records in 1981. Their debut album “Beauty and the Beat” was released later that year and became the first (and, to date, only) album by an all-woman band that played its own instruments and wrote its own songs to top the Billboard albums chart,” according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame write-up about the band’s induction.
Braden is a trailblazer herself who opened Fred Segal Flair in 1992 before launching Le Superbe in 2019, and all the while working as a stylist on the side. She first met Carlisle in 1981 in Marina Del Rey, Calif., where she was working at a shop just out of high school called Blondies. But the two didn’t work together until Carlisle set out on her solo career. Braden styled her in a black turtleneck, tights and heels for first album cover, “Belinda” in 1986.
“We had the same taste,” said the singer. “Back then, it was more your personality,” Braden added of how The Go-Go’s and other musicians dressed.
“There were no stylists and we had no money so all our clothes were from thrift stores,” Carlisle said of The Go-Go’s early years. “Back then, you could get Schiaparelli sweaters for 25 cents, Miriam Haskell jewelry, bakelite, all the stuff that’s really expensive and collectable now. I was just looking for things nobody else had. My style was a bit rockabilly influenced, the other girls had other influences. But as soon as I started making money I maxed out my credit card on a strapless dress.”
The two have stayed friends, even if these days Carlisle’s adventuring lifestyle has her more often in jeans and sweaters than stage looks. (The band will be back on the road for a few dates in the coming months, however.)
“I’d been sending her look books….I wasn’t seeing you a lot because you were traveling. Then Rock Hall tumbled together, and it was a lot of synchronicity. She’s wearing a lot of samples before we even shipped them,” said Braden of the pieces. “I made her wear sparkly shoes, sparkly fishnets, sparkly skirt…”
Arnold Neimanis/Courtesy of the Go-Go’s
“It really worked and I’m so happy with what I wore. For red carpet, I wore the sequin smoking jacket with jeans to give it more of a rock look,” said Carlisle. “Everything was so pretty, and I actually made an effort for a change!”
Carlisle had a blast at the ceremony, rocking out until the wee hours. “I sang a Germs song. The Germs was the first band I was in. Pat Smear in the Foo Fighters was in the band, too, when we were kids. I wore the denim and tulle skirt and a fitted turtleneck, which had a punk edge. I got so many compliments. If I wasn’t pushed by Jeannine, I’d be in my pajamas onstage… and I have worn my pajamas onstage.”
The band’s style was never really a conversation until Alison Ellwood’s documentary about the band came out in 2020. “When I looked at the film, I said, ‘we look so cute!” said Carlisle. “That’s proof that you don’t have to have money to have style. It’s not about wearing all the brands. It has nothing to do with that.”
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