Patti Smith photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe for her 1975 album Horses.
Singer and songwriter Patti Smith is known for her androgynous personal style. During the 70’s she was often seen in the streets of New York City wearing a men’s white shirt, black pantsuit and skinny black tie. Friend and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe perhaps best captured this for the cover of her 1975 album, Horses. Smith has since become a style icon and a muse to many designers. Back in 2006 she wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar where she talked about her own fashion influences, and in particular her fascination with neckties - read the article below.
"I was true to the shirt and tie through the ‘60s and 70’s. My models were the likes of Alan Price and Eric Burdon of the Animals, who rose from the British lower class to the arena of rock ‘n’ roll in white shirts, black ties, and bad skin. I clocked Frank Sinatra’s loose, sultry look. The radiant Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim. When I lived at the Chelsea Hotel, I often scrolled with William Burroughs. William in a cashmere overcoat, striped shirt, and hand-painted tie and me in a motorcycle jacket and black ribbon. A gentleman bum and a disheveled wild boy. For my 23rd birthday Robert Mapplethorpe made me a tie rack adorned with an image of the Virgin Mary. When I recorded m first album, Horses, Robert shot the photograph for the cover. I couldn’t decide on which tie to wear that morning so I grabbed a French satin ribbon and fashioned my own. I let it hang loose to give off that Frank Sinatra irreverence. As if to say; “Yeah, I got my tie, but I’ll wear it my way.”
"In the 80s my husband, the late Fred “Sonic” Smith, always chose a tie that reflected the task at hand. When we traveled through the Amazon, a khaki shirt with a brown wool tie gave him the air of correspondent for National Geographic. An understated tie on the golf course saluted the gentleman amateur. When he played sax, he added a loosened black dinner tie as redefined by John Coltrane. When he played electric guitar, he often chose the racetrack/Abstract Expressionist look – dark shirt, darker tie. He valued the tie as a symbol of order meant to be reinvented."
"For me the tie still holds. When I dress for the stage, there is little fuss involved. A black jacket, black pegged pants, a white shirt, and – whether a length of satin, a black mourning ribbon, a leather boa, or a classic, four-in-hand – always a tie."
William S. Burroughs and Patti Smith's at her 29th birthday. Photographed at The Bunker by Kate Simon in 1975.
Frank Sinatra at At Liederkranz Hall, New York, circa 1947.
(L) Patti Smith with her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5. (R) British music group The Animals in 1964.
Jeanne Moreau in Jules and Jim directed by François Truffaut, 1962.
(L) John Coltrane in 1966. (R) Patti Smith performance Gloria on saturday night live. 1975.
Patti Smith performing live in Rio De Janeiro, 2006.