Most people know Abba’s particular style when dressing on stage. But maybe not many know the reason for that attire…
Abba is renowned for many reasons: their victory in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo or chart-breaking hits that never go old-fashioned such as Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen. And, of course, for their special way of dressing up for their performances on stage, which included clothes with spandex, satin, sequins and platform shoes.
One could think that this outstanding style was only a matter of image. But there is more to Abba’s wardrobe than meets the eye. Never truer…
During the presentation of the publication Abba: The Official Photobook, Björn Ulvaeus explained that this way of dressing was intended for paying less taxes. And this was possible because Swedish Laws do permit (still nowadays) tax reductions on expenses for costumes, as long as they are fantasy clothes, pure stage clothes… clearly distinguishable from ordinary garments, as indicated by the Swedish Tax Agency Skatteverket in an official statement.
Abba’s costumes were all but ordinary. But Björn’s memories of them are not quite happy ones. In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were.
Still, Björn did have to face accusations of not paying taxes between 1999 and 2005; this resulted in a fine which the singer successfully appealed. After his victory in court he stated that he has always done the correct thing about his taxes.
Abba won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the unforgettable hit Waterloo. It would appear that the orchestra conductor which accompanied Abba in Brighton that year, Sven-Olof Walldoff, wished to be involved in the costumes policy, as he showed up dressed like Napoleon for the performance.