Style

Secret Style Icon: Lady Miss Kier

May the groove be forever in your hearts.

1990 was a really important year for me musically. For the first time ever, I emptied out my piggy bank and paid for a cassette tape with my own money: Digital Underground’s confusingly named Sex Packets (I never did learn how to do the Humpty Dance, nor what a Sex Packet was). I was convinced that Madonna’s “Vogue” was the pinnacle of human musical achievement—even if the video was totally not as good as “Like a Prayer,” cuz that shit was deep. And an amazing song was released, with a video that would provide me with enough giddy ’60s fashion inspiration and fly dance-move fabulousness to last a lifetime. That song was “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite, and its lead singer, Lady Miss Kier, quickly became my own personal proto-Spice Girl, the pop idol against which all other pop idols would forever be judged. If you are not already singing “Groove is in the hearrrrr-r-r-r-rt” in your head right now, then do yourself a favor and watch this video:

LMK was born Kierin Magenta Kirby (like, of course her given name was also fabulous) in Youngstown, Ohio. She moved to New York to study fashion design at FIT and began selling her crazy, disco-inspired clothes to friends she met on the club scene: e.g., silver platform boots and blue glitter suits—and that was just for the dudes. One of her clients, the Russian DJ Dmitry Brill, convinced her to record a demo with himself and the Japanese DJ Towa Tei, and thus the three-headed hydra of disco-house-funk amazingness known as Deee-Lite was born.

Adopting the name Lady Miss Kier and styling her band in addition to co-writing their songs, Kirby transformed herself into the ultimate club diva. A lot of people were working the colorful retro-’60s thing at the time, but she was the most fabulous of them all. With her penchant for skintight Pucci catsuits, oversize chunky cocktail rings, sculptural John Fluevog heels, and a teased-and-flipped hairdo, LMK was largest-than-life in a scene where EVERYBODY was competing to look the craziest.

Can we also talk about her makeup? With her white-powdered face, razor-sharp drawn-on brows, and three-inch fake eyelashes, LMK was like a female drag queen. I could say a whole lot of Feminist Theory 101 stuff about how her over-the-top makeup was like an ironic commentary on the construction of femininity in our culture, but I’ll spare you my second-rate Judith Butler spiel and just say that she looked really freaking fabulous:

Via, L-R, Glamour, Facebook

The question is: can one be inspired by Lady Miss Kier without looking totally crazypants? To this I say: don’t fear the crazypants, man. Wear your chunky-heeled sneakers, your glittery tights, your PVC pinafores (if you’re so lucky as to find them) with pride! You want to be the most fabulous, not the most adept at blending in with the wallpaper. Do not shrink from the kook—let it envelop you.

Oh, and don’t be afraid of a liberal dose of Disney Princess pink, either:

Via, L-R, Facebook and Meetup

You need look no further than the Prada Fall 2012 runway to see that batty geometric prints and flared ’90s heels are back in a pretty major way:

Full runway shots via Style.com; shoe detail shots via Talk Shoes.

But, true to LMK’s DIY roots, let’s see if we can’t re-create her loopy club-kid look for less, shall we?

T-shirt, Coincidence & Chance, $34, Urban Outfitters; skirt, $36, Topshop; sunglasses, $16, Urban Outfitters; Simone Rocha yellow mohair collar, $175, Opening Ceremony; blue daisy ring, vintage; wildflower ring, $6, Forever 21; purple wallet, Comme des Garçons, $270, Opening Ceremony; Dolce Vita mint platforms, $129, Urban Outfitters; Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York, 1989-92, $31, Amazon.com; The World of Arthur Russell, $16, Soul Jazz Records; TKO rubber watches, $24 each, ASOS.

Then rat your hair, throw in a gigantic headband, and show off your disco genie moves. Lady Miss Kier would most definitely approve.

Via, clockwise from left: Come Spy With Me, Low Resolution, Mama Pop.

20 Comments

  • marimba_girl September 18th, 2012 7:10 PM

    YES!!! I love Deee-Lite! Awesome post and a great band.

  • MissKnowItAll September 18th, 2012 7:14 PM

    awww man.
    true beauties right there.
    I have a question.
    I designed some shirts and I did sort of a shoot with some friends. Can I send it into Rookie?

  • oh...hi cindy September 18th, 2012 8:06 PM

    my dad told me i looked like her in the car this morning, so great

  • Abby September 18th, 2012 8:46 PM

    So… I haven’t read most of the article, because I just watched the video, and now I feel vaguely like I just took acid… ha

  • Barbs September 18th, 2012 9:19 PM

    I love this song, actually just listened to it 2 days ago. Also when I was into gymnastics we did a groovy routine to this song. It was hilarious.

  • amandajane September 18th, 2012 9:26 PM

    Oh my. This article is so spot on.

    AND it just brought to my attention that I own a pair of John Fluevog shoes!! I picked them up at an op shop at the beginning of this year for $12 because I thought they looked like the Prada shoes. I didn’t realize what a treasure I’d stumbled upon. I’m gonna go put together the most Lady Miss Kier outfit I can muster!

  • ToriLynne September 18th, 2012 9:59 PM

    Her shoes are killer!
    xo, Tori
    http://generationscollective.blogspot.com/

  • Lucy23 September 18th, 2012 10:26 PM

    She is just fantastic. i absolutely love her style to death <3

    http://safeanarchy.blogspot.com

  • helloalle September 19th, 2012 12:59 AM

    The day Lady Miss Kier began following me on twitter was the proudest day of my life.

  • ivoire September 19th, 2012 1:39 AM

    weooow shes great!

  • Jessica W September 19th, 2012 1:54 AM

    Groove Is In The Heart was MY JAM as a child.
    Seriously, once I got Singstar Pop, not a day went by where I didn’t howl the words “GROOOOOOOVEEE IS IN THE HAAAA-ARTOWWWWWWT” to my peers.

    They don’t make music like they used to… :”(

    The Lovelorn

  • gnarlyelixir September 19th, 2012 6:46 AM

    Perfect post!!!!

  • Libby September 19th, 2012 1:23 PM

    So I’ve not even read this article but I am just sat here singing that song and feeling about seven years old, sat in my bedroom listening to local radio where they have the same playlist forever.

  • RockHatesMiriam September 19th, 2012 1:30 PM

    omg that video is bonkers! and the shoes look really fabulous but really hard to walk in! haha

    http://www.pompandceremony.blogspot.com

  • rockslita September 19th, 2012 2:30 PM

    I love this post! It’s very inspirational. xo

  • YangHaizi September 19th, 2012 5:41 PM

    oh god, i was hypnotized by this video when i was a kid..looking back it’s a pretty weird song but i’ve listened to it so many times it seems normal..and that weird perspective so little exploited
    please notice bootsy collins and q-tip’s special appearance

  • EmilyBurke September 21st, 2012 5:34 PM

    I am just devastated that I was not born in this generation.

    dottedblazer.blogspot.com

  • mayaautumn September 30th, 2012 11:08 AM

    she’s so pretty! love the selection of images ◕◡◕

    http://mayathapapaya.tumblr.com

  • zhelby October 18th, 2012 1:06 PM

    I love LMK so much it hurts ):