We’re sobbing to the Sound of the Underground. We’ve got no Chemistry left. Yes, it’s the end of Girls Aloud, Britain’s longest-serving, longest-suffering (thanks, Cheryl Cole’s solo career) and most Northern girlband. To commemorate their demise, we take a look at their best and worst moments in fashion – from the glorious heights to the faux pas lows.
1. The Popstars: The Rivals years
You know how crop tops are, like, soooo in at the moment? Just remember that at one point in time during the early 2000s, so was velour. And backless halter-neck tops. Also, a shade of pink that was so sickly that it looked like something your pet cat might vom up after eating some candyfloss.
But enough bitter fashion sniping – look at those expressions of innocence and hope on their post-Popstars faces! Nine years later, Kimberly would be singing in Shrek; Cheryl would have invented a dance move called ‘the sex crab‘; Sarah went to rehab; Nadine’s fake Twitter became more popular than she was; and Nicola got veneers. And today, in 2013, they announced the band splitting via Twitter. Life leads you down strange paths, huh?
2. The Ibiza bargirl look
Call us armchair sociologists, but we think the fashion trajectory of Girls Aloud perfectly mirrors the British obsession with self-tanning. We don’t have an exact date for this photograph, but we’re fairly sure the first time Girls Aloud appeared looking like Peter Andre’s backing dancers rubbed in a mixture of baby oil and dirt coincides with the launch of Ryanair’s £15 sale to Mallorca.
3. The Carry On, Schoolgirl outfits
This looks like it was designed by a 15-year-old called Gary who lives in Slough. Then someone said, “Gary, you need to jazz this up a bit – these girls are pop stars!” So Gary decided to throw in some lovely red glitter trim he bought from the art supplies sale in WHSmith. No wonder Sarah Harding’s trying to strangle herself.
4. “We’re just like you, promise!”
Remember when pop stars dressed like real people? Once upon a time, it was necessary for their clothes to bear some relation to what real people wore to maintain some semblance of likeability – none of this Nicki Minaj ‘I’m going to stick a shoe on my head and pad my bum’ stuff. Here, the girls look like they just stepped out to Tesco Express for a few bottles of rosé and a pack of Nik Naks, before going back to Chezza’s to dance around to Craig David remixes. Adorable.
5. Cheryl hints at her solo career – through FASHION
Was this the beginning of the end for Girls Aloud? All the girls have totally committed to the ‘purple fantasia’ theme – Sarah, in particular, appears to be channeling a phone saleswoman from the planet Kang – but Cheryl turned up to this Samsung launch in a sleek LBD. That smile seems especially disingenuous, kind of like “laugh all you want, bitches, but I’ve got Simon Cowell on speed-dial and we’re going to dinner at Nobu later”.
6. The Showgirls era
We’re not going to lie – the period between albums Tangled Up and Out Of Control is our favourite period in Girls Aloud fashion. First there were the loony deconstructed Marie Antoinette bodices in ‘Can’t Speak French’. Obviously a homage to Madonna’s infamous Vogue performance at the MTV Awards – except ten times sluttier. Love it. Then there was the big-haired retro glam of The Promise, which finally climaxed in their live show costumes, where they looked like something a pearl oyster might spit out after approximately 1000 years.
7. Goodbye and good luck, ladies
Here the girls are, resplendent in chrome-plated armour on the final leg of their last ever tour. Not that we knew it was their last ever ever show at the time, though – foolishly, we all secretly hoped that 2013 would be the year that Xenomania resurrected itself and Britain became a pop hits factory once more. (One Direction excepted, but they don’t dance, so it doesn’t really count.)
The UK doesn’t produce glamorous pop showponies like Girls Aloud too often – remember, their immediate predecessors were All Saints and (the original) Sugababes, two bands whose fashion choices sometimes put the “ugh” in “urban”. Girls Aloud were glossy blowdries, glitter and massive choruses all rolled into one. What happens next? Little Mix? Stooshe? Cheryl’s solo career? Whatever. Until either of them turn out a song remotely approaching the greatness of Sound of the Underground, there’ll only be one Girls Aloud.
Words: Zing Tsjeng