When Tank Girl Ruled Fashion

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Actress Lori Petty made news for her most recent outfit at the Screen Actor’s Guild red carpet. Clad in shocking pink military-inspired attire, Petty’s eye-catching style became the talk of fashion critics. Even Buzzfeed created a timeline of her most recent and past looks, giving a nod to her unique fashion choices. Although she is making news now, there is another fashion moment in Petty’s career that still has people talking, Tank Girl.

Made in 1995, the American movie Tank Girl is about a fashionable outlaw who is fighting a mega-corporation for the last water supply on a wasteland Earth. The film is based on a cult comic strip by the same name written by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin.

Although the film was critically panned, it became as iconic as the comic book counterpart with a special consideration for the costumes. Looks consisted of a bleached blond Mohawk, cut-off shorts, a bullseye tank, bandannas, combat boots, and an array of accessories and changing eye colors in a style that combines apocalypse with girly punk. The outfits were created by costume designer Arianne Phillips and are considered the catalyst to her career.

The success of the Tank Girl look has skyrocketed in the cosplay world. Some credit the popularity with the easy to wear “take no prisoners” apparel, while others believe it’s due to everyone having an inner rebel.

Outside of the cosplayer world, fashion has been a fan of Tank Girl style for some time. A combination of both feminine and soldier with a large scoop of DIY, it’s no wonder designers have been channeling the futuristic fashionista. As it was explained in Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style by Shira Tarrant, Tank Girl’s look was more than just a costume. “It was easy, in the politicized late-’80s and early ’90s, to identify with Tank Girl’s aggressive attitude, upfront humor and sexuality. Hewlett and Martin said ‘She was Thelma and Louise before the fact; she was Mad Max designed by Vivienne Westwood; Action Man designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier.’”

In the 90s, Westwood’s favorite muse was once styled as the infamous Tank Girl for an iconic fashion spread by Paul Spencer. And even Petty was used as a Tank Girl muse for The Face in an editorial shot David Lachapelle.

The inspiration continued in the early to mid-aughtes while at the pre-fall 2015 runway show at House of Holland or as described at Alexander Wang’s Spring 2012 ready to wear show described by SHOWstudio.com as, “One part speed-racer, one part hardcore riot grrl, Alexander Wang well and truly nailed a kick-ass Tank Girl vibe with aplomb.”

Even today, this fashion icon is still in the thoughts of the style minded. And as we see with Lori Petty’s style, once a Tank Girl always a Tank Girl.


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