Local Wire

Gwen Stefani

At a Gwen Stefani show, you are not a citizen of the world, but the subject of a commanding cultural empress whose red-lipped orders are your new desires. That is because Gwen Stefani publicly exists in and presents as her aesthetic a hugely successful, colorful and fun Gwen Nation. Not for Stefani is the unrestricted private life of her Top 40 counterparts — she doesn't openly plot, sweat or suffer the way her peers do, nor does she criticize the competition. She tamed Gavin Rossdale and made a baby with him, both enormous personal challenges that went on without so much as a complaining, publicity-friendly cover story. Her high-profile venture into the flooded fashion market proved to be a viable business move. Her solo albums haven't just matched the success of No Doubt but lapped it. There's no question that Stefani is a serious creative force, one who seems endlessly inspired by her own trajectory from Orange County naif to the bleached Queen Bee of the music industry. This is not a woman whose music serves as a platform for merchandising. She's a pop star who also happens to be a musician. For the moment, at least, it's Gwen Stefani's world. We're just living in it.
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Kate Carraway