(L) PJ Harvey, 1990s. (R) PJ Harvey by Anton Corbijn, 1998.
Being the child that I am of a father with a never ending obsession (and I don’t use that word lightly) with British alternative music, the name PJ Harvey was one I became familiar with very young. In fact her name came up almost daily, around bedtime, since my dad couldn’t resist himself when announcing it was time to get ready for bed that we get into our “PJ Harveys.” Just PJs apparently wasn’t witty enough for him. So for most of my life PJ Harvey was a name I associated with matching cotton pajamas sets and the songs I can vaguely remember my dad playing in the car. The irony is I think children’s pajamas are the last things I would associate with her to look at her now. PJ Harvey, short for Polly Jean, has been on the British music scene since 1988. In her nearly 30 year career she’s managed to wrangle herself a liminal position between obscure and mainstream and her look seems to solidify this status. It’s not really easy to pin her look down, but its definitely very rock and roll. Garish at times but also charming, sweet yet scary. It’s quite the grab bag of looks, to be sure, which a girl who’s made a career on the fringes of mainstream but at the epicenter of cool would do. When we talk about these style icons of ours there's always this ineffable quality that just comes with having “it,” whatever “it” means, that allows these girls to pull off these looks. It would get tiresome to mention if it weren’t so true. I guess we’re all just aspiring to have that je ne sais quoi, which PJ Harvey most definitely has in spades.
(L) PJ Harvey by Craig McDean for i-D Magazine, September 1995. (R) PJ Harvey by Juergen Teller, 1995.
(L) PJ Harvey performing, 1995. (R) PJ Harvey in her video "50 Ft Queenie," 1994.
(L) PJ Harvey by Kevin Westenberg. (R) PJ Harvey by Jane Brown, 1995.