Duranalysis: Duran Duran on MTV’s House of Style

Hide the lacy frocks! Nick and Simon have descended upon Sears!

In the summer of 1993, back when Duran Duran was riding high on its post-Wedding Album renaissance, Nick and Simon appeared on an episode of MTV’s long-running fashion series House of Style. In I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, an oral history compiled by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks, Nick says, “Going on House of Style was one of the funniest things we ever did on MTV.” He’s right: The segment, in which the boys go a whirlwind shopping spree at Sears, is a trip.

While there’s no John Taylor in this, there is a tall, leggy brunet(te) with great hair and phenomenal bone structure: Cindy Crawford, House of Style’s longtime supermodel host, who, as you all surely recall, played John in Duran Duran’s glamorous “Girl Panic!” video. So it’s pretty much just like having John on hand, except Cindy smiles more.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Cindy Crawford

Nick, Simon, and Cindy arrive at the Sears in Glendale in a black stretch limo, geared up for an afternoon of shopping for budget-friendly casual wear. First up: Cindy and Nick examine a pair of striped t-shirts. Nick rejects them both: “There’s too much brown in both of them, I’m afraid.” There’s a snide joke at the core of the segment’s premise—“ha, ha, Sears is low class, and Duran Duran would never really be caught dead shopping there!”—which is thankfully neutralized by the sunny charm of Cindy and the Durans*. The boys are on their very best behavior: Nick spurns the shirts because he doesn’t wear brown, not because he thinks they’re cheap-looking and ugly as hell.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Nick Rhodes rejects shirts

*“Cindy and the Durans” is the name of my brand-new vocal quintet. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard our doo-wop cover of “Wild Boys”.

Apologies. I’m getting goofy. This is a magnificently goofy segment, and the mood is infectious.

Simon leads Cindy over to a shirt that caught his eye: “This is actually quite nice!” He seems unaware that it looks eerily similar to the (I’m guessing vastly more expensive) shirt he’s currently wearing. Hey, the man knows what he likes. And what he likes, at least on this sunny California day in 1993, are fuchsia button-downs.

Cindy tries to interest Nick in a sleeveless striped shirt. Nick recoils in abject horror: “That would expose my flesh! I’d never do that.” Yeah, Nick’s not keen on showing skin. With some noteworthy exceptions—remember that part in the “Save a Prayer” video where he forgets to wear pants?—Nick is a big fan of head-to-toe layers.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Nick rejects sleeveless top

Next, Cindy browses for briefs: “Do you guys need undies? Like, clean underwear when you’re on the road?” Simon stares at her wordlessly, his face scrunched up in consternation. Cindy tries again: “What do you wear?” Simon slowly shakes his head, and Cindy finally gets it: “You don’t wear underwear.”

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Simon Le Bon no underwear

(Here’s Simon in The Guardian: “I went commando for 20 years, because a guy from another band told me that rock stars don’t wear underpants. In Rotterdam in the 1980s, I was wearing these Jean Paul Gaultier trousers. I came off the stage in a star jump and they opened at the seam and everything was flying towards the audience.”)

“Accessories!” Nick shouts and points across the store, cutting Cindy off mid-sentence. Cindy’s expression of perpetual good cheer starts to slip just a little, like it’s dawning on her that this assignment is, at moments, somewhat akin to a babysitting gig. I feel you, Cindy. If I’m ever graced with the opportunity to meet Nick, here’s how I’m pretty sure it’ll play out: We’ll be having this amazing conversation about, I dunno, postmodernism or Bulgarian cinema or fancy shoes or whatever, and then in the middle of it, he’ll shout out, “Accessories!” and wander off in pursuit of shiny things, and I’ll never see him again.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Nick loves accessories

It seems Nick has found the display of patterned satin clip-on ties. He’s thrilled. “This is my favorite thing in the whole store,” he chirps happily as he hauls the entire tie rack into the changing room with him.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Nick and Neckties

When he emerges, he’s covered in dozens of clip-on ties. Cindy starts doing a rough tally, estimating ten bucks per tie: “You’re wearing a lot of money here.” Nick replies, “I knew I could find a three hundred dollar outfit at Sears.” He is very, very proud of himself for this.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Nick necktie outfit

Simon models shorts while Cindy provides a running commentary on the view from behind: “Good butt, he’s got a good butt going on.” Notice that now he’s wearing the cheap Sears fuchsia shirt instead of his own fancier fuchsia shirt. I’m going to quickly remind you that Simon isn’t wearing underwear, which means there’s a very real possibility some unsuspecting dude once bought a pair of shorts at Sears that had previously cradled Simon Le Bon’s naked junk.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Simon butt

At Nick’s suggestion, they all head over to the ladies’ department, where Nick and Simon don lacy white frocks. Nick demurely keeps his pants on beneath his dress; Simon does not. Throughout this segment, Nick’s pants will change color from white to chartreuse and back again. The likeliest explanation, of course, is that he found a pair of suitable Sears pants in some footage that didn’t make the final cut. Because we’re talking about Nick, though, we can’t dismiss the possibility that he habitually brings back-up clothes with him while shopping, just in case he feels like a mid-spree wardrobe change.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Nick and Simon model dresses

Since Cindy’s been acting as their personal shopper, Nick and Simon return the favor and search for an outfit for her. Simon finds a sleazy black mesh half-shirt; Cindy is totally game for wearing it, though she does have one request. She leads them over to the customer service phones: “Can you call and order me a black bra?”

So Nick and Simon (who is now padding barefoot around the store while wearing an adorable pair of striped pajamas; there’s going to be nothing left in Sears that Simon’s junk hasn’t touched by the time he’s done) browse through the lingerie section of the Sears catalog. Simon reads off bra specifications: “B/C cups have adjustable stretch straps. D/DD/E cups have adjustable non-stretch tricot straps. Weight: thirteen pounds?”

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Simon and Nick shop for bras

Thanks to Simon, I now realize I’ve been mispronouncing “tricot” all my life. He’s right; the final t is silent.

Simon orders Cindy’s bra: “Do you have that in a buxom 34B? You do? Fab.”

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Simon orders bras

Cindy manages to look stylish and even somewhat classy in a black mesh half shirt. Cindy, it should be mentioned, is consistently great in this segment, setting just the right laid-back tone. Conversation flows easily; they seem like three friends hanging out together, goofing around and acting like big dorks at Sears.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style Cindy in sleazy outfit

They wrap up their excursion with a look at clothing from the Zip & Dash line, which, the nice sales clerk explains, are essentially breakfast coats, i.e. something you can throw on quickly and wear around the house while still looking presentable. “So it’s like, zip and dash,” Nick sagely notes. In the background, Sears shoppers covertly stare at the supermodel and the internationally-famous pop stars browsing for sensible polyblend housedresses.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style zip and dash dresses

Housedresses! Housedresses for everyone! Cindy, Simon and Nick all model their choices. Once again, Nick keeps his pants on underneath his dress; Simon appears to be inadvertently mooning the lady emerging from the dressing room behind him.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style modeling housedresses

And with that, they’re finished. They lug their gigantic bags of purchases out to their waiting limo and climb in, satisfied with a job well done.

Duran Duran on MTV House of Style leaving in a limo

That was far more charming than it had any right to be. Downright adorable.