Nikki Lane is a Highway Queen and this country crooner’s style is all about western vintage. From custom rompers to Stetsons, Levi’s and tees, there’s rarely an instance she isn’t in head to toe vintage. Clearly, Lane has spent the past 2-3 years on the road and not in the pen so while her music and style are a bit edgy, it’s not outlaw. “I started touring aggressively after the last record came out and I started to think, well, I’m not really outlaw, what can I call myself? I can call myself the Highway Queen, and that can’t be taken away from me. It really became who I was, which was someone who was learning to live a life not in a home.”
Paste spoke with Lane recently as she simultaneously orchestrated a last minute change in venue for a birthday party in Nashville. The party would be moved to Moto Moda in East Nashville by the end of the interview. If she’s not on the road, you will find her in Nashville, writing music, running her vintage store, High Class Hillbilly, or throwing parties in Music City, USA.
Lane’s third full-length album Highway Queen is due out today and can be ordered here. In anticipation of the new album she has released two music videos for “Highway Queen” and “Jackpot.” Her style is apparent in each showing off custom threads and one of a kind vintage finds.
Paste: Who is a dream fashion designer you would like to work with?
Nikki Lane: For starters, you always see Isabel Marant kinda teetering on the western inspired stuff, and I think I would really love that. Balmain; it’s like the one, my style or not, I’m always jealous of. When I see fringe leather pants I think that’s where they belong. I think what I would like even more so is to do a reissue of a vintage cut by LVC (Levi Vintage Clothing) or Wrangler because I like basic wearable fashion, and I’d like to get people to maybe up their game with the basics before they start worrying about icing the cake.
Paste: What’s your absolute favorite thing to wear? On and off stage?
Lane: I have a vast collection of old Levi 517s and high waisted 646s, I typically pair that with a t-shirt and jacket and boots, boots, boots! Boots are where I still buy a lot of newer designers. They range from vintage finds—I love PSKaufman, Prized from El Paso who makes custom boots by order only, and so does Stallion. Those are some of my favorite western boots. On stage is where I really get to play dress-up. There’s a chain stitch embroiderer from Austin called Ft. Lonesome that makes custom western suits. I started working with her on my last record. I’ve since seen that Lucius got matching outfits made, and I had a new suit made by Union Western Wear. The original makers are kind of long gone or stuck in a time warp so it’s nice to see new wave of people that are paying respects to the old skills of chain stitching and doing things really custom, but getting a modern take on it and not stuck in a retro bubble.
Paste: You have a classic vintage beauty look with clear skin and a bold lip, what’s your beauty routine and some of your favorite products?
Lane: I think that’s become my look because it’s low maintenance for the road. I use a Clarisonic each night, moisturize with Kiehl’s and a I use NARS SPF 30 tinted moisturizer during the day. My favorite mascara is by Trish Mcevoy. It’s the only one I’ve found that doesn’t run. I love Tom Ford’s Roberto lipstick from his Lips and Boys collection and on of my longest term favorites is Dior 999. For a consistent everyday wear and color, I’ll look to CoverGirl or something I can pick up at Walmart.
Paste: You have released two videos for Highway Queen leading up to its release. Can you tell me about your look in each video?
Lane: My number two in command at High Class Hillbilly and for my personal affairs is Macy Smith. She went to school in New York for fashion (Pratt) and came down to work for me. She’s an incredible tailor and talented at creating patterns and structured looks. She made the Highway Queen romper in the video in the back of the van on the way down to the shoot. The other look is a 1940s Hillbilly Western original fringe top that was a gift, it’s fun to have those things for token appearance. The hat I’m wearing with that is a Stetson Boss Raw Edge, it’s part of a re-release of an original body from the 1940s. It’s a great piece, I mean, you don’t wear it to go to the airport, but you wear it to make a statement. The vintage wedding dress in the “Jackpot” music video actually came from the grandmother of a friend of my mom’s. It had been sitting around until it found its purpose.
Paste: IYHO what’s a fashion faux paux? What’s something you would never wear?
Lane: Flip flops. When there’s not sand.It doesn’t fit most of the situations that people choose to wear them.
Paste: Denim or Leather?
Lane: I love leather, but denim tells such a story, if you get them dark and then wear them down.
Paste: Hair, clean or dirty?
Lane: It’s gotta be a little bit dirty. Two days in.