The enigmatic Shirley Manson has long been a girl crush of mine. Ever since she entered my teenage world as front woman of dark pop ensemble Garbage in the 90s, I have adored the gutsy, sexy charisma she exudes by the bucketful. With her extraordinary style and exceptional talent she’s arguably one of THE female touchstones of 90s alternative rock and an empowering inspiration for women. She defined the ’90s vixen, with that Scottish brogue that was sultry and empowering all at once.
With that amazing fiery hair, mega attitude, blood red lips, and a set of pipes that could out-snarl a wolf, she engages audiences around the world with her intimate, vulnerable and honest lyrics about gender, identity and self-acceptance. Famously outspoken, she continually inspires legions of fans across the globe with her edgy, DIY feminist vibe and take-no-prisoners attitude.
Listening to 2005’s “Bleed Like Me” on high rotation helped to nurse me through a particularly challenging time in my life, the end of a 7 year relationship. That album, with its bristling sleaze, gloom and noisy grungy pop, helped me release some kind of inner relationship demons and somehow assisted in the crawl through to the other side, a life of rediscovery. Songs about beloved freaks and lying lovers, designed to stoke the last dance at the end of days, were kind of a panacea at the time.
Fierce, brave and provocative are words that often spring to mind when I think of Shirley. Following her on social media for the last few years, I could also add whip-smart, utterly compassionate, open minded and wise to that mix. Shirley doesn’t have a problem standing up for what is unjust and cruel in the world, and I just love that quality in a person.
The lady has made a big impression on me throughout the years as a strong, iconic gutsy frontwoman and also as a style icon. I am just so in love with that amazing mane of hair which just seems to get better and more glorious by the day. I adore her alabaster skin, and am amazed by that beautiful pout that speaks so much truth and knowledge and wisdom about this big, dark, beautiful world. But most of all I love her mind and her soul.
“I started wearing mini skirts in bright colours with Dr. Martens and lots of makeup – my obsession with makeup reaches fetishist proportions! It started when I was a teenager working behind the beauty counter at Selfridges.”
“Makeup is a bit like magic: it can completely change the way you look and the way you feel, and I find the process of putting it on very relaxing, almost like meditating. I particularly love lipstick (MAC’s Lady Danger is my all-time favourite), which in the 90s became my style signature.”
“Focusing on sex appeal can be dangerous, since it’s the first thing to fade away, and I’d like to build my life on more solid ground than that. I want to enjoy getting older and be graceful as I grow up, which is why my style has changed with time… It would be pretty scary if I was still dressing like I did in my twenties!”
“Anyone can wear an amazing designer’s outfit, but it doesn’t make you stylish. Style is about who you are and how you live your life.”
“The sensation of never feeling good enough or pretty enough will always be there. It’s a constant dialogue, and you just learn to be more powerful than that other voice. When you hear it come up, you shut it down.”
“I have a certain tendency towards the dark that defines me as a singer. I’m not a show-pony girl. I’m not all bright and pink and fluffy. I look at the world with a slight melancholy, always. I think people who are attracted to the band share that. I see death coming and I don’t shirk it.”
“To me, who you are is the most important thing. What you do says more about your value in the world than how you look. I really believe that, and those are the strengths you can rely on when things get tough, because they inevitably do. That line of thinking stops women from believing in themselves as artists, from being curious and brave. “
“I like the feeling that I’m giving young women self-confidence. It sounds so cliched, but it can be very moving.”
“I admire people who are really put together, but standing next to them, I feel very shambolic… So I guess the way I look somehow stems from that sense of vulnerability.”
“Western cultures are fixated with youth to the point of hysteria, but there are great things that come with age: comfort, confidence and self-knowledge. For instance, it took me a long time to feel comfortable with my red hair, but now I actually colour it to make even more intensely flaming… turns out I love it!”