Of all the fast living bad gals rock n roll has produced, one lady stands out above them all. For sheer style and sass, step forward please, Miss Debbie Harry. A generation grew up, either wanting to be, or be with, her and a whole legacy of imitators have this ice cool blonde to thank for her style inspiration. Liz Kenny takes a closer look at a vintage style icon.

Debbie was born in Miami, Florida in 1945, only to be adopted at 3 months old by Richard and Catherine Harry, and then raised in New Jersey. She confessed she often fantasized that her real mum was another blonde icon, Marilyn Monroe.

In the mid Sixties she decided that small town life could hold her no longer, and moved to New York City. Once there she worked in a number of low-paid jobs, most notably as a Bunny girl waitress and then later as a barmaid at infamous music club Max’s Kansas City.

At this time Debbie was still faithful to her natural brunette hair colour, the platinum alter ego yet to emerge. Her early forays into music included a folk rock group called ‘The Wind in the Willows’  and later a girl band, ‘The Stilettos’. It was in this group she met her future creative and romantic partner, guitarist Chris Stein and the two left to pursue their own direction. The name of their group was inspired by a frequent catcall Debbie’s new look would elicit on the streets of New York, ‘Blondie’.

The band released their first album in 1976 and went on to make some of the most iconic and memorable music of all time. Best known for hits such as Heart of Glass, Atomic, Call Me (from the movie American Gigolo) and Denis, amongst many others. Their breakthrough album was Parallel Lines in the late Seventies.

h1LjB1rqajmi7uqtxky4glwRo1_400Legal disputes and inter-band fighting meant the group bit the dust in the early Eighties. Debbie went on to enjoy hits as a solo artist, whilst at the same ime caring for Chris, who had developed a rare and serious skin disorder. He went on to make a complete recovery, though their relationship ended in the late Eighties.

Debbie said about her image, ” I feel that one of the things I brought to rock and roll was that sort of movie star glamour and image, and that’s what always fascinated me. I always wanted to be that blonde, glowing woman on film, and it was sort of automatically thrown at my feet- and I went with it.”

Certainly Debbie did just that, bringing a new combination of glamour, intelligence and sexual confidence to the role of female front woman, writing her songs and not just singing them.

As well as being an accomplished musician, Debbie has also dipped her stylish toes into the acting world, starring as Velma Von Tussle in the original film version of Hairspray as well as in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome.

In 1998 Blondie reformed, to tour and release new material and are still together as a group to this day, prompting Debbie to wryly name a new album ‘The Curse of Blondie’

To capture Debbie’s signature style, opt for two-tone blonde streaked hair and dresses in bold patterns and colours. The current trends for thigh high boots and Eighties plastic sunglasses is Blondie all over. Find vintage T-shirts with bold motifs and team with tight jeans and heels. Then strut your stuff.

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