Cherry Bombs and Neon Angels: The Runaways

Somewhere in Hollywood, sometime in the 1970s, Joan Larkin would change her name to her mother’s maiden name “Jett” as her new legality. She took on the name Joan Jett as her professional and stage name all in one, which later cemented her status as a rock n’ roll icon. After her first guitar teacher attempted to steer her towards folk songs… she ultimately became fed up with being forced into the Joni Mitchell mold. The utterance of “girls don’t play rock’n roll” confirmed her path to go play with the rockers The Blackhearts… but first she would play with allllllll girls.

““Tell me I can’t do something — you know I’m gonna be doing it.”

Joan Jett on instinct
Joan Jett in the 1970s

Over the weekend I scrolled through Netflix one evening looking for an evening movie and quickly found The Runaways, which I saw in theaters back in 2010. It is a raucous adaptation that recounts the ascension and decline of all girl band, The Runaways, before Jett went on to form The Blackhearts with Blackheart Records in the 1980s. So let’s go back to 1975 to drool over all the punk DIY t-shirts, glam rock platforms, and full leather jumpsuits that wardrobe miraculously recreated for the band.

Left to right: Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Sandy West, Jackie Fox
Teenage angst burns bright and hot

They perfectly cast this crew of girls with Kristen Stewart as brash Joan Jett, Dakota Fanning as vulnerable Cherie Currie, Scout Compton as hothead guitarist Lita Ford, Stella Maeve as stoner drummer Sandy West and Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat as bassist Jackie Fox.

Alia Shawkat (Fox), Scout Compton (Ford), Stella Maeve (West), Kristen Stewart (Jett), Dakota Fanning (Currie)
NPR.org

To fully achieve the looks, the film crew brought in a legendary wardrobe stylist: Carol Beadle who has worked with countless musical acts from Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Cher, Katy Perry, Kanye West, Marilyn Manson and many more. Immersing herself in the New Wave and Punk scenes of London, NYC and the Netherlands she quickly became a connoisseur of vintage within the music and film industry.

As she puts it:

“The girls didn’t live a Brady Bunch life, they listened to Suzi Quatro, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and The Stones. You want that to reflect in what they wear…”

Carol Beadle, Glamour 2010

What makes this semi-biopic so good, is the marriage of soundtrack and style. Each being an influence on one another, the group soon fell into their own personalities as bandmates and its highlighted by their wardrobe and character arcs.

PUNK GRAPHICS AND BAND TEES

This is the golden age of band tees. Some band tees and media merchandise ranging from the 1970s-1980s are now worth something in the triple digits if they’re authentic. You can see the girls wearing many band tees, representing their idols like: Cheap Trick, David Bowie and the famous spray painted Sex Pistols shirt, Jett famously tricked out in punk paraphernalia.

The band also rocked a handful of tees from record shops and ‘zines, like Peaches Records and Tapes and Creem America’s Only Rock ‘n roll magazine”; one of their first booked shows was at a house party, where the bandmates all wore different colored tees featuring The Runaways and their own name in text. It was like a big middle finger to the music industry’s boy’s club as they formed their own exclusive group.

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