On the cusp of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' fourth album, 'Mosquito,' SPIN tours Ms. O's wildstyle through the years

1. Yeah 3x

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs' screamer-chanteuse Karen O's gonna go down in history as one of pop music's great style icons, alongside Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, and Courtney Love. But the Korean-Polish badass is also already there, having stomped her way across stages in increasingly conceptual costumes by her designer BFF Christian Joy, and opened the door for unorthodox dressers like M.I.A. to register a little better in the minds of American normies. As O and Joy have evolved together, they've become ever-more sophisticated and refined; on the tailwind of Joy's recent costume retrospective in Brooklyn, and at the cusp of YYY's fourth album, Mosquito, here's a look back at Ms. O's wildstyle through the years. JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD

2. Yeah 3x

2/20

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' screamer-chanteuse Karen O's gonna go down in history as one of pop music's great style icons, alongside Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, and Courtney Love. But the Korean-Polish badass is also already there, having stomped her way across stages in increasingly conceptual costumes by her designer BFF Christian Joy, and opened the door for unorthodox dressers like M.I.A. to register a little better in the minds of American normies. As O and Joy have evolved together, they've become ever-more sophisticated and refined; on the tailwind of Joy's recent costume retrospective in Brooklyn, and at the cusp of YYY's fourth album, Mosquito, here's a look back at Ms. O's wildstyle through the years. JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD

3. Debut, 2001

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When Karen O had a date with the night, you knew it: her earliest looks, congruous with what many cool disaffected chicks in Brooklyn (and L.A. and Portland and Chicago and...) were wearing post-9/11, included a lotta bright hues, ripped tights, and a sole fingerless driving glove that looked awesome clenched in a watch-yr-jaw fist. She was a garage diva with a deconstructed Joan Jett hairdo, but even bummer electroclash couldn't keep this badass mamacita's neon steez down. In the band's iconic first official press pic from Touch & Go Records, she's in a punch-colored '80s-style prom dress with a sweetheard neckline and paint-splattered flounce, gone delinquent debutante with hole-y fishnets and a red leather bondage strap. It's a look that screams "Karen Orzelek ain't nothin to fuck wit."

4. Blitzkrieg Breathless

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Those early looks also took a bit of conventional punk and dressed them up for warehouse chic. The band established early on that Nick Zinner and Brian Chase were more comfortable in the mystery of an all-black outfit, the better to let their frontwoman shine. But O wasn't immune to neutral hues, and certain black-and-white palates with moto flavor brought to mind Jean-Luc Godard as easily as the Ramones. It would foreshadow her transition into more angular looks a few years later...

5. Fever to Tell

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Around the release of their first full-length album, 2003's Fever to Tell, and a newly minted major label deal, Yeah Yeah Yeahs were more confident in their melodies, and O's looks reflected that: Christian Joy went buck on textiles, bringing her signature screenprint patterns to sewn-up Peter Pan onesies and leotards (Leotards! And you thought Gaga invented #nopants). The designer was channeling the electricity and excitement of the record, and the feeling of possibility in a restructuring New York at the time, while O was further proving that she did not GAF: glowstick warrior make-up, totally busted Converse kicks, the world's most ripped fishnets in every fluorescent shade available, and Hanes with a belt were pretty standard fare in those days.

6. Skeleton Party

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Offstage, she cleaned it up a bit, but Joy's quirky day looks were similarly one-of-a-kind: this signature XO-PISS OFF skull and bones shift dress was coveted by everyone ever, showcasing the designer's applique handiwork as well as her zany sense of humor. It's a cartoon skull! Smoking a cigarette!

7. First SPIN Cover, June 2004

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And in 2004, O appeared on SPIN's cover wearing a silver-and-blue lamé leotard with a skater skirt and gauntlets — a truly unique space-princess costume that only O and Joy's joint chutzpah could execute successfully.

8. Man Ray/Maya Deren

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Never one to stagnate, around a year later O ditched the rainbow brite sleaze for its highly stylized opposite: hair snipped into a sleek black bowl and a sudden penchant for inky bodycon dresses, she seemed to emerge fully formed from a Man Ray photo.

9. "Maps," 2004

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Even her stage costumes were sleeker: performing "Maps" at the 2004 MTV video awards, her penchant for lamé manifested itself in a gorgeous rose shaped shrug at the clavicle and futuristic hip paneling, all glamorous, attitudinous rock'n'roll.

10. Second SPIN Cover, April 2006

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11. Virgin Festival, 2007

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Over the next few years, Christian Joy really came into her own, and Karen O was ready to ramp up the fantasy of her costuming. Plus, 2006's Show Your Bones was a departure from their previous work, partially acoustic and much somberer, so her artful, toned-down day looks needed an outrageous counterpart. Enter: Nosferatu. At the 2007 Virgin Festival, O was vampire-gone-tinseltown, wrapped in a high-collared cape dripping with silver fringe like a devious Christmas tree. One of the first signs that Joy's works were getting increasingly experimental, the look marked a new era for the band.

12. Where the Wild Things Are

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As O grew ever-wilder in concert, offstage she transitioned into her 30s with grace and sophistication. At the Where the Wild Things Are premiere, she celebrated her jubilant score in a fur shrug and sparkles, looking lovelyin a newfound Klute-inspired coiffure.

13. It's Blitz!

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It's Blitz (2009) found the trio getting glitzier, so O's costumes followed. She wore a kabuki-inspired kimono emblazoned with lobster and zigzag screenprinting, a gold lamé bodysuit with gilded coin tentacles at Coachella, and a leather medieval jester's uniform studded with her initials on SPIN's cover. It was a lot... but never too much, the looks of a true enduring rock star.

14. Bumbershoot 2009

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15. Third SPIN Cover, March 2009

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16. Tenth Anniversary

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For Yeah Yeah Yeahs' tenth anniversary show in 2010, held at tiny Williamsburg DIY club Secret Project Robot, nothing was the same but the size of the venue: O wore a glamorous gas mask and a nun's habit emblazoned with Joy's jagged screenprinted stripes all across the bell sleeves. The only allusion to their illustrious past a decade earlier was the bright neon pink of the nurse's cross on the garment's frontpiece — a sign O's star had long since blasted off.

17. "Skeletons" Video

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18. Sandy Benefit Concert

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When Karen O appeared onstage for a Sandy benefit in December, she was going full blondie Elvis: platinum hair, zebra cape and blouse, studded suit jacket with sparkly fringe and feathered detailing.

19. Mosquito

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Turns out that wasn't a fluke. She's wearing the same look in the first Mosquito press photo, looking hella June Carter Cash with that brassy Nashville dye job, plus we can see the blazer has her initials embroidered on the sleeve. Most heartening: she's still wearing that single leather driving glove, as recognizable now as Madonna's rosaries or Stevie Nicks' scarves, an accent of continuity in an ever-expanding repertoire and a sign of an icon. It's perfect serendipity that her initials are "Knock Out."

20. Christian Joy Costume Retrospective, 2012

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