Written by Caroline Leaper
In warm Californian tones, Margi Kent sums up her role as the creator of a style icon and effectively the arbiter of the ethereal, romantic rock look that thousands still try to copy. "Stevie was the only woman in rock and roll to really go there with her costumes. She really did have a concept, a look and a character in mind that she was projecting when she was on stage. When she is possessed by a particular song, the energy flows through her and I design the costumes to help that." Modest and loyal, Kent is not a household name herself, but her work as stylist to Stevie Nicks ensured her name is firmly in the fashion history books.
Kent comes from the school of thought where stylists created costumes, knew how to design, and fit, anything their client could imagine and could create something unique that contributed to both their performance and their legacy.
In the case of Stevie, Margi explains explains, this involved getting lost in a vibe or scouring flea markets for real Victorian lace. It was Margi's understanding of how filmic a billowing silk chiffon could look when rain-soaked in the video for Gypsy, that led it to being the first ever 'World Premiere Video' to show on MTV in 1982.
"Stevie wanted something real different to anything that was happening in rock 'n' roll. She had a sense of the feeling she wanted to project and had an affinity with certain fabrics. She has a very fine sensibility and loves quality fabrics, especially silk chiffons, delicate laces and velvets," says Kent.
"I would go on the tours a lot and work with Curry Grant, the lighting director, because if I did special costumes, like for Gold Dust Woman, we wanted to build according to the vibe of the lighting."
Speaking to Margi is itself an education in rock style. The first time she saw Stevie perform with Fleetwood Mac in one of her creations, she dedicated Landslide to her – a wow moment in anyone's book. "Believe me, in those days every day was a story. They travelled around like a family, whether they were getting along or not, it's still a family."
But, she confides, styling Stevie for a Fleetwood Mac performance was quite different to a solo show, and designing could be a politically demanding job.
"We would specifically tone it down for a Fleetwood Mac performance because Stevie was getting way too much air time," Margi laughs. "We had to keep it politically correct, it's hard for her not to stand out because she's a very dramatic performer, but we had to scale back. She had to be respectful of everybody's position in the band, she is a band member and she feels that way. But when she released her first solo album we went crazy, everything was colours, textures and feathers."
Today, Nicks keeps a lot of her costumes in a temperature controlled room, while some of Kent's celebrated pieces have been on show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame's collection and The Grammy Museum.
Life-long friends, Margi still works on all of Stevie's tour costumes, collaborating as recently as this summer for the In Your Dreams tour. "She is really funny and really great to work with. We can't believe that we still get to play dress-up."
Kent's company, she says, is gearing back up again after a period of solely catering to bespoke clients. Quality over quantity is her approach and the team have just opened a boutique in L.A., aiming to grow production gradually and ethically.
"I just can't believe that it's still going on, it's unbelievable that we still get requests all the time. I do a million other things but it's become about her look." Surely the sign of an icon made and a job well done.
For more information about Margi Kent please visit the designer's website.
Tags: MTV Archive