björk’s 10 best outfits, in order of wearability
A survey of the icon’s avant-garde style from 90s baby-dolls to high-concept headpieces.
Björk dresses, it sometimes seems, like an advanced alien lifeform would if it were trying to imitate an Earth-dweller — like the extraterrestrial persona of "Human Behavior" who is slightly confused by humans' lack of logic. She has worn elaborate masks to lunch with friends ("it's a fun occasion, so this is normal, right fellow humans?") and flip-flops to red-carpet awards shows. Like her music, her style is eclectic and transcendent. She brings an intense creativity to dressing. In her 90s punk days as the lead singer of the Sugarcubes, she once wore a Ren and Stimpy T-shirt with a floor-length silk skirt and Reebok Instapumps. And as a solo artist, the line between her immaculately otherworldly stage outfits and running-errands wardrobe is increasingly blurry. In a recent interview, ahead of her new album, Björk's friend Jefferson Hack confirmed that she wears James Merry's elaborate alienesque face pieces out and about during the day. It's a look that perhaps no one else could pull off. And so, here are ten of Björk's best outfits, in order of most to least wearable (for a mere human).
1996 - Ren and Stimpy T-shirt
This is one of Björk's most civilian outfit choices, but it's still out of this world. It was 1996 and Björk had recently released her second studio album, Post. In the video for "I Miss You," the record's sixth and final single, Björk appeared as a cartoon drawn by Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. Here she is promoting Post in a Ren and Stimpy T-shirt. The top perfectly matches her golden skirt and sneakers. This is an outfit you could go to the bank or laundromat in, and is not too daunting for a fashion newb.
1997 - Polka-dot jacket and tabi
Björk attends a gig during U2's Pop Mart tour. The most striking thing here is her footwear: a play on the traditional Japanese geta sandals and tabi, or just socks and sandals...? Björk is full of mystery. From the ankle up, though, it is an outfit you could walk down the street in without being filmed by strangers on their cellphones.
1990 - Pigtails and long sleeves
Björk is 25 here and the year is 1990. This look is from her early punk stage, just before she moved to London. "When I was a punk teenager, I rebelled because lots of people in Iceland think that foreigners are evil and that if you don't wear woolen hats and eat sheep, you're betraying your heritage," she once said. This outfit, consisting of a turtleneck and linen dress, looks extremely comfortable and un-evil but the sleeve length would be an obstacle to most human activities.
1991 - Hiking boots and mini buns
Mini buns were an iconic part of Björk's early-90s aesthetic. Here, she pairs them with a chartreuse embroidered wrapper that covers her entire body, and hiking boots. They're a testament to Björk's lifelong dedication to the outdoors. "There is such a big chunk of me that is David Attenborough. I think he is my biggest inspiration," she has said.
2000 - Pink-on-pink pouf dress
It's the year 2000 and Björk is at Cannes. In many ways, this look conforms to red carpet norms: dress, heels, the color pink. But Björk is Björk and so her dress is a voluminous tulle concertina with princess sleeves. Her pink tights and mischievous little kitten-heel mules also make this look feel like something a toddler or eccentric heiress would pick out to wear to a function.
2001 - The "Swan Dress"
The so-called "swan dress," created by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski, is not Björk's least practical outfit by a long way, which tells you a lot about her adventurous spirit. The dress debuted at the 2001 Academy Awards and later went on display at Björk's MoMa retrospective. At the Oscars ceremony, Björk mimed laying an egg on the red carpet.
2016 - Red ruffled lace creation
Last year, Björk blessed Day for Night in Houston with a DJ set and this full symphony of an outfit. The guipure lace face piece is by her collaborator James Merry, who created show-stopping wearable artworks for Björk's Vulnicura visuals and tour. The album's themes of transformation and emotional extremes seemed reflected in Björk's powerfully expressive outfits in 2016.
2003 - Crystal-covered face and marabou skirt
This look is a close tie with the previous outfit, but as anyone who's ever worn body paint can tell you, it is the definition of impractical. Similarly, navigating a busy concert at the Royal Albert Hall, as Björk is doing here, with a face covered in crystals that could detach themselves at any minute is not for amateurs.
2017 - Head-to-toe white, with sun hat
Björk wore this bodysuit and headpiece to Sónar Fest in Spain. The look was created by Amsterdam-based designer Marlou Breuls, who was inspired by Van Gogh. The ridges of the pleated fabric are filled with strings of tiny pearls that fray out at the sleeves and ankles. The outfit is stunning and transportive but also a clear contender for least wearable for anyone who is not Björk or at Limelight in the year 1990.
2008 - The pom-pom headdress
This is how I like to think of Björk: a magical shiny imp protected from the future by a velvet-soft cushioning of multicolor pompoms. She's photographed here during her Volta world tour in 2008, before the heartbreak that she would later turn into Vulnicura. The headdress, made by hair artist Soren Bach, is eye-covering and enormous. Combine that with a dress made from what looks like a giant candy wrapper and here's our winner. This look is categorically one of the best and least normie-friendly outfits Björk has ever worn.