Threads: Ruby Velle Shares Her Best Outfits
Atlanta’s very own vocal powerhouse is taking over the world, and looking striking while she does it.
If you haven’t heard of Ruby Velle and The Soulphonics yet, it will be difficult for you to avoid their crisp, soulful and smooth sounds in 2013. They were recently featured as Starbucks’ “Pick of the Week” for their cheery track, “Heartlite.” Just before that, the lead-off single of off their first full-length It’s About Time, entitled “My Dear,” was featured as iTunes’ single of the week. This resulted in a digital accomplishment of 200,000 single downloads and 1,200 full-album download sales in just one week, landing the album at No. 4 on the iTunes R&B charts. The group has also enjoyed putting a dent in the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Velle called 2012 a “grand-slam year” and is more than motivated to keep the pace they have recently enjoyed.
Velle describes the band’s collective sound as “vintage-inspired soul; an amalgamation of all of our influences, dominated by soul, with a splash of classic rock and a side of blues.” She is the hip chick who prefers analog over digital, not because it’s passé but because it’s what she learned on. Home for her is not processed sound through a laptop, but a sultry note through a reel. She grew up learning to “do it right or do it again,” tape-tracking with reels, as she feels traditional recording captures the heart of a song.
In 2013, Velle will be reading “best travel steamers” reviews on Amazon, as the Soulphonics are gearing up for a European tour. American fans, stay close; a domestic festival circuit is in the works.
We sat with the visually bold and stylishly creative artist to discuss her three current favorite outfits.
Mood: Secretive Soul Vixen—deep, dark, revealing in just the right places.
Story: “Being an independent artist, I had gotten pretty used to styling myself, and the band, whenever necessary. Some time ago I was approached by one of the nations’ best designers and crème de la crème of the Atlanta fashion scene, Bill Hallman. Bill looked at me and said, ‘You are doing great with your style, but sweetheart, I can do better.’ And he has, defining my style for large and small performances as well as our videos. What I love about Bill Hallman is his passion for his craft and the ability his creations have to draw out the feeling the client wants to portray, to play it up and go bold. It’s a confidence booster to be working with such amazing talent in fashion. He is a very dear friend, and every time I try on a piece from Bill, I’m all smiles…his collections make me feel positively radiant. This black dress is an archive piece from Bill’s collection a few years back that he has now gifted to me. I love it because its lines are timeless, sexy and the whole piece makes me feel like I’m maintaining the stage style I started with: fierce, sexy and powerful with a vintage twist. The visual of one long sleeve is a great attention-getter for the stage. I believe I wore this for my album release show in September 2012.”
The Defining Item: “Clearly this dress grabs attention, so as a defining piece it could stand alone. However, I’ve had a uncontrollable obsession with shoes since I was in my teens, so I have to give some attention to these Betsey Johnson black lace-on-pink booties. They were a great impulse buy, and I’ve worn them for several shows. They are sexy and just fun enough to pair with a black dress without overdoing it. And who knew they would be comfortable too!”
Where to buy:
1. “This dress is an archive piece and was gifted to me, so I don’t think it’s available for sale. However, Bill has a huge line of gorgeous dresses with similar lines and some that will blow your mind (think colorful floor-length wrap dress that ties at least eight different ways).” All available at his website.
2. “The shoes are Betsey Johnson and could be found at her boutique stores or website”
Mood: Refined, sweet Southern hippie
Story: “One thing I cherish about my style is that most of the pieces in my personal collection, be it blouses, jewelry, shoes etc. are mostly gifts or hand-me-downs from the people I love. I enjoy keeping their spirit alive by showcasing the fashions they enjoyed. This vintage blouse was given to me by my Aunt June. She was a most special lady, acting as a second mother to me and inspiring me to be an artist, to write songs and to be creative in general. She is very close to my heart, and her passing away in March of this year was a difficult time. However she left me so many amazing pieces from her collection that it was hard to stay sad; I just wanted to celebrate her wonderful life. So, I now wear a lot of her jewelry, blouses, etc. in order to carry on her spirit and remind myself that pure love and affection for others exists. Also, the earrings I’m wearing here were handmade by my mother, who is very talented in silver- and copper-smithing and has made several of the pieces I wear onstage. My mother and Aunt June have inspired me. They are loving, powerful and independent women, so I like to portray that in my wardrobe. The necklace I’m wearing is a timepiece from an antique mall here in Georgia. My sweetheart bought it for me to mark the release of my debut album It’s About Time. I can wear it both on and off stage.”
The Defining Item: “By now, you know I like to make statements with shoes, and will often downplay an outfit to let the shoes ‘do their thing.’ Here, I’m wearing some of my favorite boots by Kimchi Blue. They are not overly expensive, so I feel I can wear them almost anywhere, and the Persian rug motif is suitable for many seasons. I was always into stilettos, so these boots mark a period of experimenting with different styles of shoes. I still have quite a few pairs of stilettos, but wedges have worked their way into the collection quite quickly.”
Where to buy:
1. Blouse: Vintage—“not sure where it could be purchased, but it’s ‘60s-’70s era”
2. Shoes: Kimchi Blue for Urban Outfitters at urbanoutfitters.com
Mood: Casual, fun-loving, adventurous
Story: “I find a lot of my collection in vintage shops all over the nation. When touring this summer, I stopped in a few great stores in Nashville, Chicago and LA and got some great finds. I think the music I sing and write inspires me to take clothing from the past and make it new, just like what I aim to do with soul music. Our music is very much a re- interpretation of early soul from the ‘60s-’70s era, so I tend to blend those eras of fashion with a modern twist as well. I am fond of this mix between old and modern, nostalgic and new. This outfit is one of my favorites because it’s comfortable and colorful. As a designer, I was very much into color and its meanings, so pulling off some colored jeans has become a new staple for me. The tunic is from a vintage shop in Atlanta close by our studio in Little 5 Points, which is a great place to find new trends and old, and probably the best people-watching in the South.”
The Defining Item: “The colorful tunic is the eye-catcher here, but since the focus of this outfit is on comfort, I will also say these boots are tour-worthy, meaning they could work on stage as well as on the gravel parking lots and dirt roads of this great nation. I’m drawn to the zipper and button accents on the boots and how they slightly resemble vintage cowboy boots. Comfort is key, and as Nancy Sinatra said, ‘These boots are made for walking.’”
Where to buy:
1. Jeans: The Gap
2. Blouse: “a vintage shop in Atlanta. I have my secrets.”
3. Boots: Nine West Vintage America Collection, Bleaker at ninewest.com