A look at the relationship between Fashion and jazz

By Mxolisi Mhlongo

Fashion and jazz have always inspired modern day culture. Some of the greatest fashion designers got their inspiration from jazz music. Most designers still prefer showcasing their designs through jazz artists. In fact, a good example of modern day fashion design is Mafikizolo’s stylist Gugu Khathi.

When you think of a fashion icon from the jazz era, who is the first person that comes to mind? Probably Marilyn Monroe or Edie Sedgwick right? But there was Billie Holiday aka Lady Day. She had a seminal influence on jazz music and fashion. Her vocal style strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Let’s look at how the influential Billie changed the landscape of fashion and jazz, a look at what really made her stand out.

Billie was born Eleanora Fagan Gough on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She later adopted the stage name ‘Billie Holiday’ after her admiration for an actress named Billie Dove. When she was just 17 years old, Billie began singing at jazz clubs in New York City. She was discovered by a music producer in 1933. By the time she was 18, she had already cut her first album.

Here is what made Billy stand out:

  • Elaborate Hair Accessories.Billie was often photographed wearing her signature accessory: beautiful flowers, which she pinned in her hair. For an authentic Billie-inspired look, adorn your hair with fresh flowers or look for a floral hair clip or headband.
  • Statement Jewelry.Never one to blend in with a crowd, Billie liked to wear lots of gorgeous, statement-making jewelry. She wore chandelier earrings, cocktail rings and strands of pearls for a lounge-like vibe which can easily be mimicked today.
  • Fancy Frocks. Even when she wasn’t performing, Billie always accentuated her curves with gorgeous, body-skimming dresses. Printed, lacy or bejeweled, Billie looked amazing in every dress she wore. Channel her style for yourself by wearing a fancy dress during the day or by rocking a show-stopping cocktail dress for a formal party or event.
  • Luxe Details.Whether she wore an oversized bow, a fur coat or a sequin-encrusted sweater, Billie knew how to make a statement with her wardrobe. She always wore pieces with that extra dose of pizzazz, which made her style anything but average.


KAYA FM reflects the lives of the predominantly black, urban listener between the ages 25 – 49 living in Gauteng. The station broadcasts both music and talk. KAYA FM 95.9 broadcasts in English on the FM frequency signal 95 (Dot) 9, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The current listenership stands at 462 000 per average day and 841 000 per average 7 days. The music format offers a diverse and soulful mix of adult contemporary music to smoother sounds like R&B, World Music and Soul and Jazz. Visit www.kayafm.co.za for more.