Arriving in Paris in May 2008 to shoot the video for their ode to couture, “Lagerfeld Lady,” Fritz Helder & the Phantoms were stopped on the street by a photographer for a French streetwear magazine who knew instantly they belonged on glossy paper -- pajama bottoms, flattop haircuts, and all.
“We’ve been playing dress-up for far too long to let a little jet lag get in the way of looking good,” says Fritz, ringleader of the wig-wearing foursome, who are quickly becoming the hot accessory for pop divas. After attracting buzz for their offbeat live shows -- in which they pull audience members on stage, restyle them, and coach their strut -- they danced on Nelly Furtado’s 2007 world tour and performed at a recent Lady GaGa CD launch party. Today, the high-energy fashionistas release their brazenly titled debut, Greatest Hits: Platinum Edition (on Furtado’s new indie label, Nelstar).
Formed five years ago as a 13-member dance troupe in Toronto, the Phantoms have evolved into an electro-funk outfit channeling 1980s-era Prince. The current group -- Diego Superstar, front man Fritz, Silk Helder, and Pastel Supernova -- are pros at extracting glamour from DIY ingenuity: At Canada’s Fashion Cares AIDS fundraiser in November, they blew patrons away with Swarovski skull masks and matching skeleton costumes made of thick elastic bands. “You don’t know where those outfits start and end, but don’t turn to the side,” says Fritz. “You’ll see the duct tape.”
If you're in New York City this Friday, come on out to the Fritz Helder and the Phantoms record release party at Mr. Black, 251 West 30th Street. The doors are at 10:00 and the show starts at 10:30 sharp. Nelly Furtado will be on hand to host the event. Head here for more info.
-- PAUL GALLANT
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