Music and fashion have long been cozy bedfellows, but in George Michael's new music video, the marriage has been . . . consummated.
Sure, musicians have worn some wild couture creations -- think Grace Jones and Boy George. Billy Joel featured his model/wife Christie Brinkley in many a video. In Malcolm McLaren's "Deep in Vogue," models and dancers dressed in black vogue as if their lives depend on it.
But Mr. Michael's "Too Funky" video displays unabashed fascination with superstar models and the fashion world. Michael Jackson and Prince also reveal fashion fetishes in current videos. And Right Said Fred made a killing mocking the haughty nature of the runway set in "I'm Too Sexy."
Is this a mini-trend in the making? Has the music video industry -- an art form that has exhausted every tired visual cliche -- found a shortcut to hipdom? Will video makers continue taking their lens caps off to high-fashion models?
Maybe for now, says Jeanne Beker, host and segment producer of "FT: Fashion Television" on VH1. But like everything fashionable, a change already is needed.
"It is an interesting coupling," she says. "Models make strong visual statements, and that seems to translate well on music videos. But how long can it last? I mean, it's a brilliant combination, but I think it could wear thin after a while. You get tired of that insincere smile and posing. There's only so much vogueing you can take."
"Too Funky" isn't tough to take at all. Models Linda Evangelista, Shana Zedrick, Nadja, Tyra, Estelle Lefebure and Beverly Peele strut down the runway wearing outre Thierry Mugler glam-gal duds.
And where there is Thierry Mugler, there are drag queens. Joey Arias, Coonie Fleming and Lypsinka make appearances. It's as provocative and exciting as a well-executed runway show.
In fact, the video could be mistaken for a runway show. Or a segment of CNN's "Style with Elsa Klensch" -- especially when Lypsinka bites off her Lee Press-Ons and mugs toward the camera. The resemblance to Miss Klensch nibbling on cheese sticks at the Hotel Crillon is, well, frightening.
Trying to explain the fashion-video connection, a spokesman for George Michael said, " 'Too Funky' could draw a parallel with some of the newer models pushing out some of the older ones." The quote makes no sense, but since the phone call was made before noon, it is understandable.
A half-hour later, the spokesman was more coherent. He explained, by the way, that "Too Funky" is one of three tracks Mr. Michael contributed to the "Red, Hot & Dance" compilation, which benefits various AIDS awareness groups.
"It takes you into a hot, slick fashion show," he says of the music video. "And I mean the high, high fashion. You can watch it, and it's visually stimulating. The visuals are so hip and the song is so hip and it all goes together perfectly."
Michael Jackson is another musician who finds the combination stimulating. He used zillion-dollar-a-second morphing special effects in his video for "Black or White," but for "Keep It in the Closet," he used one simple special effect: supermodel and runway goddess Naomi Campbell writhing all over him. It helped to have Guess? ad lensman and fashion photography legend Herb Ritts directing.
The marriage of fashion and music videos is no accident. Stylists, image consultants, wardrobe specialists and even the stars themselves watch the fashion world like hawks.
Prince "reads all the fashion magazines, and he knows exactly what is going on in fashion," says Stacia Lang, personal designer for Prince.
The singer is "also very interested in women's fashion," Ms. Lang adds. "He wants the women dancers and singers on the tour to be current. He always wants the costumes to be up-to-the-minute."