courtney love sounds off on her first fashion collection

As she releases a collaborative Nasty Gal collection of Kinderwhore dreams, we catch up with the sometimes grunge, sometimes glam goddess about all things sound and style.

by Emily Manning
Jan 15 2016, 3:10pm

"Courtney behaves exactly how we would want her to and she has our collective blessing. She has exchanged privacy and dignity for fame, power, and rock n' roll," reads a quote in i-D's October 2003 issue, one fronted by the singer.

In the accompanying image, Love wears smudged eye makeup, a completely sheer Antonio Berardi micro mesh dress, Agent Provocateur panties, and Dominatrix-esque Christian Louboutin boots. It's followed by several other shots in which a then 39-year-old Love contorts her nearly naked body into wild, provocative poses. Love's third time appearing on the cover, this David LaChapelle series is almost exactly the opposite of Love's first i-D cover -- photographed in 1994 by Juergen Teller. At the height of her Hole fame, Love appeared rather childlike in front of the photographer's lens. Sporting a canary yellow cardigan, pale pink baby doll dress, and glittery Mary Janes, Love sucked her thumb and took a tumble, mussing up her choppy, peroxide mop and purposeless Goodie barrette.

If these aesthetics sound contrasting, it's because they are. But since she first stepped on the scene as the head of seminal punk outfit Hole, Love's often controversial, always unapologetic sounds and styles have endured. And her just released collaboration with Nasty Gal -- the Los Angeles-based brand "named after an album by another outspoken woman in music, Betty Davis," its founder, Sophia Amoruso, tells us over the phone -- embodies them all.

"I've started calling them my shoes," Love says of the footwear in her 18-piece collaborative collection, before affirming, "Well -- they are. They've got my name in them." Despite countless offers over the years, this is the first fashion project Love has ever leant her name to. "It's our first collaboration, too, and it was a really organic one," Amoruso adds. "Courtney is a perfect partner."

Photography Alan Levenson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

There are interpretations of Love's familiar Kinderwhore staples: babydoll dresses, Mary Jane flats, and a tiara that's already sold out. But there are also decidedly non-90s sexier moments: stiletto pumps, satin slip dresses with lingerie detailing, and fishnet stockings -- contemporary pieces not unlike those Patti Wilson styled for Love's 2003 i-D shoot. There's even an homage to Courtney's friend and fellow rock goddess Stevie Nicks. 

"Courtney was involved with the design process every step of the way -- sketches, fabric selection, everything," said Amoruso. "We started by hanging out at her house and just looking back through her closet." Had she saved much from the grunge days, I wondered? "Yeah, I've got a lot," Love said. "A while back, I went over to Stevie Nicks' house -- what an experience, man -- and she has really taken care of all of her clothes, I'm talking pieces from the 80s. She gave me all these recommendations about how to properly store my own stuff."

Though the collection references Love's archive, it's not an exact copy of her wardrobe. "We tried to create modern layering pieces, including some Courtney always wanted but could never find, like a full body lace catsuit," said Amoruso. The collaboration also riffs on the fiercely feminist frontwoman's DIY ethos. Speaking about how she used to splice up eccentric Edwardian costume with 20s dresses, Courtney recalled moments of fashion fearlessness: "I remember cutting up chicken wire from Galliano's couture dress -- the Clochards, what a collection -- I wore to the Golden Globes, seriously," Love said.

For Amoruso, Love's perennial influence in high fashion -- from her unexpected Versace muse moment to her enduring friendship with super stylist Panos Yiapanis -- made the collaboration all the more poignant. "Her style is singular and strong -- it's her's. And it's inspired so many designers, but she's never really taken that credit for being such an influence."

As to why Love's rock and roll rallying cries still resonate with new generations -- it's a question she couldn't answer personally ("Oh I don't know. I just wore what I wanted. Sophia, you take this one, baby"). "Courtney is an icon: she's uninhibited, she's provocative, she's free. I think that will always inspire people," Amoruso said.


Text Emily Manning
Photography David LaChapelle
Styling Patti Wilson
Hair James Brown
Make-up Mally Roncal
[i-D, The Insider Issue, No. 236. October 2003]

courtney love
fashion interviews
Sophia Amoruso
nasty gal