the 5 shania twain looks that made her a fashion icon
The country-pop queen has always understood the power of animal print and PVC.
Shania Twain performing at The New York State Fair, 1998. Photography Michael Okoniewski/Getty Images.
This article was originally published by i-D US.
You know how when you were a kid, you would see a grown woman on television and think, “So, this is what I’ll look like someday.” Then you grew up and were like, “Wait a second, what happened? Who were those women? Where did they go?” Shania Twain was that woman. Shania Twain looking up cheekily with one smoky eyebrow raised from under her hat — “Let’s go girls” — is what you hoped womanhood would be like.
Strong, sensual, knows a good OTT silhouette when she sees one — that is Shania Twain. And even the kids who weren’t sentient during her 90s heyday recognise it. At the recent Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shangai, Entertainment Tonight asked Harry Styles which other artist has most inspired his work. “I think both my music and fashion main influence was probably Shania Twain. Yeah, I think she’s amazing,” he said. The night before, Miley Cyrus had belted out a rendition of Man, I Feel Like a Woman on The Voice with her fellow team members all clad in Shania-esque leopard-print ensembles.
Like many true icons from the 90s and 2000s right now, Shania is finally getting her due for pioneering pop culture in those halcyon days of cowboy boots, crop tops, and flared jeans. Shania was the queen of country meets pop; she kicked her heels, she tossed her hair, she told us that any man of ours should know how the story goes. Here are five of her greatest looks.
Man, I Feel Like a Woman, 1999
My god. Is there a better female call-to-arms than the horns section — “BAH BAH BUH DUH DUH BAH BAH” — on Man! I Feel Like a Woman? That and Shania’s hand-waving invitation will make you, even at your very lowest, remember that the best thing about being a woman is “the prerogative to have a little fun.” The deconstructed men’s suit was so perfectly on-the-nose: white button-up, top hat with a fishnet veil, thigh-high boots, corset, tuxedo coat with a train.
The vacant-eyed male models wearing black PVC against apocalyptic clouds is a play on Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love video. But Robert Palmer has a bit of a haunted look in his eyes throughout his video; Shania looks like she’s having the time of her life.
Canadian Music Awards, 1999
Shania cleaned up, of course, at the 1999 Canadian Music Awards for Come on Over, and she wore an ensemble — a bubble-gum pink short suit complete with Dubble Bubble hat, boots, and gloves — that said, “You know it.” After Styles’s Twain fan moment, many outlets compared Twain’s 1999 look to the baby pink Edward Sexton suit Styles had worn in May when he performed on the Today show. Which, I mean, sure. But also, next time, Styles might want to consider accompanying gloves and a hat if he’s a real Shania aspirant.
(A runner-up to this look is the pink vinyl jacket Shania wore at the 1995 Billboard Awards when she performed (If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here! in front of a smiling, nodding Michael Jackson.)
Shania has never been one to shy away from the country version of extra — in fact, she patented her own brand: PVC-accented 90s country diva. Ka-Ching! is not a particularly memorable Shania Twain jam, but it was Shania getting a little experimental, introing the song with some Timbaland-style Indian beats. The song was on Up!, an album interestingly (and somewhat inexplicably) released in three versions: a pop version, a country version, and an international version with a Bollywood flavour.
Ka-Ching! was about consumerism and includes ominous descriptions of home foreclosures, but honestly you don’t really hear any of that when you’re watching Shania in an insane red strapless gown with her hair piled up and sparkly jewellery dripping off her like syrup. We learn that the look is an homage (maybe?) to a Renaissance painting of a woman wearing the same dress at 1:51. Googling various combinations of “red dress Shania Twain Renaissance painting” didn’t turn up any results, but the symbolism is there — heavily! — nonetheless.
Any Man of Mine, 1995
Any Man of Mine was Shania’s first crossover pop-country hit, breaking the Top 40 pop chart in the spring of 1995. The music video plays out like a Harlequin romance novel of the Western persuasion, but with no man present and no man necessary. Shania, wearing a Canadian tuxedo of a denim vest with high-waisted denim jeans, is a walking Wrangler fantasy. Her fringed chaps shimmy as she does a little two-step on top of her truck while washing her horse. This same horse later nuzzles her in a bathtub and brings her a towel, and there’s no less weird way to phrase that.
That Don’t Impress Me Much, 1997
This is Eilleen Regina Edwards’s masterwork. Sheena wore leopard print to rule the jungle, Christian Dior warned women not to wear it if they were “fair and sweet,” and Peggy Bundy wore it as armour against the daily mundanities of being a shoe salesman’s wife. Shania Twain wore it — complete with a matching leopard-print hat box and glossy red lips — to drive home the fact that even Brad Pitt did not impress her much.
I’m not sure where the decision for Shania to wear leopard print originated, but I will tell you this: wearing leopard print makes you feel a little bit untouchable and, as a result, less impressable. The only other diva to approach this level of leopard print alchemy was Dolly Parton on the Backwoods Barbie album cover.
This video and, more importantly, this outfit is the defining moment of the Shania Twain persona: she is a woman who may not be impressed by much — but is certainly open to the possibility.