strike a pose! these are madonna's most inspirational and powerful looks

We asked designer, artist, and all-round fabulous woman Louise Gray to curate them for us.

by Louise Gray
15 August 2018, 9:50am

Like any woman, but particularly any of the famous, influential and iconoclastic ones, Madonna has come under scrutiny for her outfits over the best part of four decades. One of the many, many women she has influenced -- and don’t pretend you weren’t one of them -- was designer Louise Gray. We asked her to pick her favourite Madonna moments.

Even now, as she turns 60, Madonna comes under backlash. And she’s suffered an onslaught of it continually throughout her career -- people criticizing how she should or should not look. I feel like people argue whether she is in fact a feminist, but the fact is that she has, more than any woman I can think of, hammered into us the idea that liking sex is a positive thing and a necessary thing. But she has never cared. Whose opinion matters more than her own? Just by being exactly herself, and owning her own mind, she has made me preach at her church; she is a brilliant light for men and women. And she is so much more than just a pop star. When Madge sold Legér’s Trois Femmes à la Table Rouge (Three Women at the Red Table), at Sotheby’s for $7.2 million she donated the proceeds to her own Ray of Light Foundation, which supports education projects for girls in the Middle East and South Asia.

Personally, she has inspired me to express myself. I really took her instruction literally. So many people do not stand by what they say they stand for. She isn't a copycat, she isn't someone who lives by observing someone else’s career. Madonna is an originator and the queen of reinvention. I find this compelling. I too search out change, I don’t want to be defined by one thing, one hair style, one way of dressing for the rest of my life. I want to be shaped and influenced the same way she has been.

Change is good, change is needed. I'm still into her and I am sticking with her wherever she goes.

The Virgin Tour era

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This was the first look I ever emulated of Madonna's. Although I was three when this came out, at the age of 12 I cut off the fingers of a pair of lace bridesmaid's gloves. She would soon become my hero.

Who's That Girl era

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Hi, anyone bleach their hair? I had exactly this hair cut and it made me feel totally unstoppable.

Dick Tracey era

If you watch Madonna sing this award-winning song from Dick Tracey at the 1991 Oscars closely, you'll see her wobble, loose her way. But the fact is that she gets it back: no nerves can overcome this true queen who in a post-modernist nod is referencing Marilyn Monroe.

Dita / Erotica era

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"My name is Dita..." Mistress Dita became Madonna's alter ego, inspired by the actress Dita Parlo. My mam locked me out my house for four hours after school as I was queuing up in Aberdeen to buy the SEX book. I own it. I live it.

Madonna Antoinette era

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This performance, from the 1990 MTV Awards, is my go-to when I need to feel better. Like so much of Madonna -- it is life giving.

Nothing Really Matters era

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This song I play when I feel anxious, and it’s got me right on through so many problematic moments. I suggest you give it a go too. Also, so many Halloween looks, right here.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

louise gray