There’s something insanely enchanting about Chløë Black. The singer-songwriter pens pop songs that feel ageless and deserve heavy rotation on the radio, each with a gripping story and satiating chorus. She broke through with “27 Club,” a song about the famous and tragically young deaths of rock stars like Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin. The song established Black as an artist who understands contemporary pop culture within the context of vintage rock n roll, drawing easy comparisons to the likes of Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse. Her most recent single, “Groupie,” continues Black’s association with the music culture of decades past.
On top of having a voice, Black also has vision. Her iconic black and white hair pairs well with extravagant dresses, bright red lipstick and high, high heels. Her music videos are tastefully crafted homages to the intersection of older aesthetics and modern trends. The telltale sign of a good artist is their ability to craft a unique and intriguing world with their art, something Black has down to a science. We spoke to the London-based chanteuse about her unique approach to fashion.
Paste: When did you first become really passionate about fashion?
Chløë Black: My mother gave me a miniature Chanel red lipstick she’d gotten as a sample when I was 3, and from that moment on I became pretty obsessed with dressing up and all things hyper-feminine.
Paste: What have been the biggest inspirations for your current look/vibe?
Black: The bombshells of the sixties and seventies. Brigitte Bardot, Anna Karina, Sophia Loren, etc. French new wave. The Addams family. Cult cinema. Films tend to be my biggest source of inspiration in general. I love all things retro.
Paste: What time in your life showcased your WORST fashion choices?
Black: Probably that one time I wore jeans to try and fit in. The biggest fashion mistake someone can make is to be disingenuous.
Paste: What movie, TV show, music video, etc. has the best or most iconic style?
Black: For movies—I love all of David Lynch’s work. John Waters. Jean Luc Godard. Virtually everything from the sixties and seventies as well as some nineties classics like The Craft. I love the kitsch and femininity of movies like Valley of the Dolls and the timelessly cool art direction of Suspiria and The Shining. All things Fellini.
For TV… Twin Peaks! The Addams Family, The Munsters and Bewitched. Mad Men and Fargo. American Horror Story has its moments, too.
And music videos… Chris Cunningham and Spike Jonze made some videos in the late nineties that were so memorable they don’t really date. Courtney Love’s punky beauty queen looks in the Hole videos have definitely been an influence. Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time is always on my mood boards. Lana del Rey’s “Born to Die,” “Blue Jeans” and “Freak” are all mesmerizingly beautiful. My favorite video I’ve seen recently is Mykki Blanco’s “High School Never Ends”.
Paste: How do you dress on stage as opposed to in your day-to-day life?
Black: At present there’s no difference. Dresses and 20 pounds of eyeliner are my default. In the future, I hope to have stage costumes too elaborate to wear in day-to-day life, though I’m sure even then I’ll probably find some excuse to wear them to the pub.
Paste: Why do you think fashion is important in a larger sense?
Black: I think fashion is an artwork as worthwhile as any other medium. It is our greatest connection to the past. Looking back at historical fashion gives us a tangible idea of what life was like and where we’ve come from.
Humanity has always used fashion as a way to identify tribes and we continue to do that to this day. A band t-shirt, a suit, sneakers, makeup… all of these seemingly innocuous things help us to discern who is and isn’t like minded and to express our personalities and ideals externally. In some cases, fashion is our only way of identifying potential “predators.”
Paste: In what ways are fashion and music related?
Black: They’re inseparable. You can’t think of Elvis without picturing his hair and jumpsuit or Madonna without her cone bra. Rockstars are just a newer form of royalty and fashion is used to create the impression that they are god-like legends amongst men. Some genres of music have their own uniform. Hair metal, for one.
Paste: What is the worst trend that ever existed?
Paste: Is there anything that makes London’s clothing feel unique to you?
Black: [London Fashion Week] feels a little less stuffy and more inclusive to me. I love that when you go out to events in London, you can expect to see people like Pam Hogg, Princess Julia, Daniel Lismore and Pandemonia brightening up the room. I also love that so many men know how to dress well in London. In LA, a wifebeater and shorts are considered acceptable dinner attire.
Paste: What is your New Year’s resolution?
Black: To be as creative and prolific as possible. Pose naked.