St. Vincent wearing the Gant x St. Vincent collection.
She has sung with Dua Lipa, collaborated with Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney, won three Grammy Awards, and has often been compared to David Bowie, Prince, Kate Bush, and PJ Harvey. American prodigious musician, singer, scriptwriter, film director, and actress Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, has more than one string to her bow (and to her guitar too). Making her debut in the 2000s, the 39-year-old artist has already performed live with Sufjan Stevens, been a member of the psychedelic pop band Polyphonic Spree, recorded an album with Talking Heads’ leader David Byrne, and released another six records as a solo artist. She mixes indie pop and decadent rock, with a prominent taste for experiments and cabaret atmospheres.
Today, the one who has always displayed a flamboyant style – talking about platinum blonde wigs, cut out bodies, super low-cut lace shirts, and futuristic mini dresses – unveils one of her many talents with a capsule collection in collaboration with the sportswear brand Gant. The musician envisioned a wardrobe for the stage, that anyone can wear for a wild night out, or for a regular day, in a sophisticated, yet a tad debauched, “office day” version.
Retro pink blazers, striped socks, silk scarfs with psychedelic prints... the Gant x St. Vincent collection takes us back to the folk, rock, and disco New York of the 70s. A time of creative effervescence that completely matches with Annie Clark’s baroque and fascinating personality. To that matter, her last album Daddy’s Home (2021) dragged us through different emotional states. Interview with an artist who writes songs as well as she designs her looks – with a natural classiness and a good deal of madness.
Numéro: I have read somewhere that you wore the Gant x Luke Edward Hall collection to promote your last album and that the creative director of the brand saw your photos. Is it how your story with Gant began?
St. Vincent: Yes, absolutely. With my stylist Avigail Collins, we were also thinking of creating a collection beforehand that would encompass the spirit and aesthetics of my 2021 record Daddy’s Home. Then, the collaboration took shape, and it has been a lot of fun to design it. Everything was very fluid.
Could you wear the pieces you designed with Gant for one of your shows?
Yes, of course. I could wear the shorts with the silk scarf and the jacket without wearing anything underneath. If it’s for my show, I would absolutely to do it. Perhaps I’d add a bra. It is hot on stage, so I’d probably open my blazer at some point...
How would you describe this ten-piece collection, from the silk scarf with psychedelic prints to the pink shorts?
They are very comfy pieces with both a masculine and feminine aspect to them. You can mix and match them together. They draw their inspiration from the energy of New York in the 70s and from the fact that, at that time, one could only afford a blazer or a pair of pants, but not the complete matching suit. One would wear pants of a certain color with a blazer of another shade. There was some kind of stylistic impudence and humor which inspired me for my last album.
Which elements of the 70s appeal to you?
I particularly like the music. That same music that would deal with the sleazy, the messy, and the greedy stuffs happening in Downtown New York in the 70s. What I find interesting is the transitional period it represents. It feels similar to what we’re going through at the moment. We can draw a parallel between these two historical moments. The “Summer of Love” dream of the 60s was coming to an end, while the psychedelic fantasies of the “Peace and Love” movement was over. People tried to recreate a new world, to known what the future would look like, exactly like what we’re trying to do today.
Your album is dedicated to your father. Is he the one who introduced you to the 70s’ music and fashion?
A large number of the tracks I love today were originally introduced to me by my father. He lived in the 70s, not me. The theme of my record is the transformation of a masculine character wearing large pants, the “daddy’s side”, to a more feminine character inspired by Gena Rowlands, model Lauren Hutton, and American transgender actress and Andy Warhol’s muse Candy Darling.
In 2016, you designed a guitar with Music Man, a company for which Jack White, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. have played. Is it very different from designing clothes?
A part of the process remains the same. What I like with collaborations is that we eventually end up with a much more exciting result than if we’ve been working alone on the project. I appreciate the way I can bring my aesthetics and craft to the table, and how I’m able to create a team to design something that’s going to last a lifetime without getting tired of it, whether it’s a guitar or a fashion collection. I use noble, quality materials that will not degrade in your hands, and the label Gant is actually known for its timeless designs.
Like David Bowie, you create a look for each one of your albums. What is the importance of fashion in your artistic universe?
It takes part of the general storytelling. I think about every aspect of my creation. I like to keep telling the story of an album through a certain look or show in order to create an entire world. It gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Do you have any fashion icon?
To me, a lot of people dress well. Right now, I would say that I really like Isabelle Huppert for her energy, and not only for her looks. I feel like she wears whatever she wants with such freedom, elegance, and a genuine aesthetical touch.
And she doesn’t seem to pick her clothes according to what society would expect her to wear at her age...
Exactly! And by the way, what would she?
Aside from the stage and your music videos, how does a typical style look like for you?
Oh gosh... I am a very low-profile person off stage. I do the bare minimum and remain discreet. I don’t even wear makeup. I wear very classic pieces from my closet. When I’m not performing, I’m not that person who wants to enter a room to make heads spin and be the center of attention. A huge part of my work as a songwriter is to observe people to enrich my songs. You cannot properly see anyone if you’re constantly the one being seen.