Hit Girls
by Toyah Willcox

Big voices, loud characters, unforgettable faces - these women are mistresses of image. By Toyah Willcox. 

"When I was little, I was always dressing up and wanting to be something I wasn't: famous, taller, 9 years old instead of 6. As I grew older, I realised that, actually, I could be anything I wanted to be. 

"In the early 80s, I was seen as the Queen of Reinvention. My look would change three or four times a year, with each single I released. And with each look - pink hair, shaven head, whatever - I found myself becoming a different person. If you've ever gone from very long hair to very short, you'll know what I mean. Suddenly, you can't wear the same clothes and your image has a very strong influence on how you behave, like it or not.different person.

"Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Lisa Stansfield and Lauryn Hill are all strong women who aren't afraid to play with their image. They're not afraid to leave 'pretty' behind and go with 'strong'. That comes with experience and maturity. François Nars (the top make-up artist who created this look for his book X-Ray) has done all the people he's made up a great favour. He's allowed stars to change people's perception of them. This is such a luxury. Who else, in real life, is given the opportunity to do that? It takes guts, but Nars has brought out key elements of their personalities via his make-up. 

"If you're in the public gaze, reinvention and exhibitionism are the name of the game. You have to change constantly, be one step ahead, to keep your image fresh.

You have to keep people guessing; if the public are bored with you, it's the end of the road. 

"Madonna is the most successful reinventor of our generation. She's still managing to stay one step ahead. Boy George is perhaps the least successful - he's never really changed. But this is probably because his image was so strong to begin with - all the public want of him are variations on his theme.

She Magazine
December 1999