Last week I saw one of my favourite bands playing live at the O2 arena in London. Iron Maiden's music may not be to everyone's taste, but the fashion trends of the metalheads in attendance were surprisingly reflective of the catwalk's grunge look for AW/11-12. Here you can see the three guitarists and bass player wearing leather jackets, cut-off band t-shirts, well-worn jeans and rock jewellery. It must be strange for the fans, who have dressed this way since as early as the 1970s, to suddenly find their style becoming copied by designers and the high street.
There's a great feeling of togetherness at an Iron Maiden gig - the fans are incredibly friendly and a very diverse range of people come to see the show, from kids to grandparents (in some cases, a few generations of the family will attend). If you're not already wearing a t-shirt from a previous tour, it's highly tempting to pick out one from the newer merchandise available. The band always has fantastically detailed artwork on each album and official product, as seen here.
This woman had most of the stadium watching her when the spotlight found her in the crowd. She was (rather bravely) dressed in PVC hotpants and matching thigh-high boots, with a very small top. I doubt she was referencing the catwalk, but she wasn't far off the look of Gareth Pugh. If she'd brought in some sharp tailoring and edgy shoulders, perhaps we'd find she was just a fashionista after all.
Guitarist Janick Gers shows that you don't have to be under 40 to rock skinny jeans. His were embellished at the sides and teamed with blindingly white hi-top trainers, a studded belt and a Maiden t-shirt.
One of the most flamboyant parts of an Iron Maiden gig is when a song called The Trooper is played (it's a bit of a classic). This tends to require a very large Union Jack flag and a military jacket for the lead singer, Bruce Dickinson. Bruce may not realise that these coats have been high up in the style stakes for a few years now, making a reappearance every Autumn/Winter season. If he was wearing the trend this time around, the best combination would be tailored trousers, biker boots and maybe some cheeky black braces over an untucked shirt.
Chunky boots are regularly spotted at gigs such as these. They're more of a niche purchase than biker boots or hobnailed numbers, though they might become more popular soon as we've recently seen Creepers (see the shop Underground for the best selection) and Buffalo Shoes both making a comeback. Statement footwear is most definitely in. Like the lady here, you can't go wrong with leopard print tights if you want to bring out your wilder side.
Heavy tattooing, such as this sleeve design, and multiple piercings were frequently on show in the crowd. Tattoos have become deeply watered down as a style statement (except for the full-on fierceness of Rick Genest's anatomical facial piece, which is in a class of its own), due to the vast amount of banal celebrities now sporting them - reality tv stars, Cheryl Cole, X Factor singers, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, etc. Luckily we have seen Chanel launching temporary versions, putting forth the idea of dipping into the look without needing the commitment of a permanent inking. I think that's the safest option, unless you're absolutely sure you will never tire of the design you want.
This young fan let his hair do all the talking, with a gel-based mohawk effect. The advantage of today's styling products is that they are so powerful that you can completely transform your look without having to shave anything off or do anything too drastic, which is great if you need to be more conservative on a daily basis for work.
I find it fascinating that the kind of fashion choices I spotted at this gig are being hurriedly made into the pieces we'll see in the shops tomorrow. In the 90s we didn't really pay much attention to metal music or Goths (it was all about Britpop, American grunge rock or garage music in the UK), yet suddenly we're looking to them for new ideas. You can now walk into Topshop and buy decorative skull rings and ear cuffs; you can head to any high street store and grab some leather leggings or trousers. Sometimes it's good just to step back and examine where this stuff started life, before it was readily available, and the Iron Maiden gig (as well as being amazing musically) was certainly full of unknowing trendsetters.