beauty icon, bjork

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The pop landscape, not to mention the fashion scene, is always a duller place without Björk. So we’re happy to report that the iconoclastic vocalist is back with a vengeance. After a four-year hiatus from touring (during which she spent quality time with her artist boyfriend, Matthew Barney, and their young daughter, Isadora), the Icelander is headlining this month’s bigger-than-ever Coachella Music Festival. What’s more, the Indio, Calif., concert coincides with the release of her much-awaited new album, out May 8. On Volta, she pairs up with hip-hop producer and hit single wunderkind Timbaland, promising tracks as catchy as Justin’s but branded with Björk’s taste for the bizarre. At times, she’s backed by a ten-piece, all-female brass band.

Björk’s striking appearance is as singular as her sound. While her East-Asian features and face-framing jet-black hair led to taunts of “China Girl” as a child, her atypical looks are now part of her impish appeal—as is her eccentric taste in clothes. She’s famous for collaborating with fashion rule-breakers like Alexander McQueen and Jeremy Scott, and we seem to remember an incident involving the Oscars and a swan. Like we said, things haven’t been half as fun without her.

— Alison Baenen

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Photo: The Sun / Rex USA

A 10-year-old Björk, photographed on the brink of her music career.

Photo: S.I.N. / Corbis

Singing lead for the Icelandic rock group the Sugarcubes in 1986.

Photo: S.I.N. / Alamy

A studio portrait in 1995, the year she released her second solo album, Post.

Photo: Corbis Sygma

As Selma in her award-winning role in Dancer in the Dark.

Photo: AP Photo / Laura Rauch

In Marjan Pejoski’s iconic swan dress at the Academy Awards, March 25, 2001.

Photo: Ralf Collaris / Sunshine / Retna Ltd.

Performing at Belgium’s annual four-day Werchter music festival in 2003.

Photo: Tim Jenkins

In Alexander McQueen, with the designer, at Fashion Rocks in London, 2003.

Photo: Courtesy of

The cover of 2004’s Medúlla.

Photo: Adrees Latif / Reuters / Corbis

Performing Oceania at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Her dress unfolded to reveal a 10,000-square-foot map of the world.

Photo: Vallenilla / WENN

In New York with her partner, Matthew Barney, and their daughter, Isadora, March 2005.

Photo: Matthew Barney / Courtesy of Everett Collection

A still from Drawing Restraint 9, a 2005 film written and directed by Matthew Barney.