Wednesday 19/06/2019 - 07:52 am

Lykke Li on Her Designer Dreams and That ’70s Festival Vibe

2015.04.13 04:28

Lykke Li is near unrecognizable in the sunlight, sitting a few yards away from the pool at the Sparrows Lodge in Palm Springs. She’s without her signature all-black look, instead wearing a cream silk surplice top, denim cutoffs, and oversize tortoiseshell Gucci shades that nod to her new style touchstones—strong women like Bianca Jagger and Anjelica Huston. It’s a palate-cleansing look for the Swedish R&Brood singer, which is fitting considering it coincides with her return to the stage. Before her Coachella set on Friday, Li had been on hiatus after canceling a string of shows due to illness. “I was kind of burned out,” she says. “I did so many shows for so many years, and you forget to embrace the moment when you’re really tired. I had a break so yesterday I could fully be there.” Li dressed for the occasion in a shiny, black ’70s-style fitted suit she designed herself. “Right now I’m becoming more feminine than I ever was and more open to exploring,” she explains. Li took some time to talk about how the look came together, the surprising origins of her DIY approach to fashion, and the upcoming mescal line she’s working on. 
Usually you’re in darker clothes. This is a new look for you.
Yes, [but] this isn’t even color. The only colors I wear are white and gold. I’m really inspired by living in L.A.
In what way? 
I love the ’70s aesthetic of Faye Dunaway and Joan Didion. It’s clean and nothing extravagant, just great materials. It’s elegant but leisurely. 
Aside from appearing in ads for Gucci, you’ve partnered with & Other Stories on a capsule collection. Are there any designers you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?
Yeah, but at the same time, brands that I admire are Céline and Acne [Studios], and I don’t feel like I’m in the position to do that type of collaboration. 
Do you feel like you get something out of collaborating with fashion brands that you don’t get through your music? 
It’s more that I collaborate with fashion naturally. I do all of my own costumes and have been doing it for a while. I’m really interested in fabrics, silhouettes, and how to structure things in a timeless, androgynous way. I’m kind of anti-fashion, actually. I’m more about finding pieces that will never go out of style. What I’m wearing is vintage and it’s super-simple. 
When did you start making your own clothing? 
I started when I was 7, when I went to India for the first time. My mom and I would go to rave parties, and there are tailors there, so we would always do our own costumes. We would buy something in Sweden and copy it in different materials. We used to go to tailors in the mall in India and Morocco. I always found stuff in vintage stores and cut it. Then I started doing costumes with different people for my shows and the videos. 
When you became more of an established act, did you keep your DIY approach to costumes? 
I do it with someone [now] because I don’t know how to sew, but I draw and go to the fabric store and find materials. My friend Gina [Correll Aglietti] is my partner right now, so we talk about it and spend hours in the fabric stores. We have different tailors for different things. 
What’s your favorite fabric to work with? 
The highest quality of silk, organza, wool. I just did a python leather jacket. Sometimes for the show stuff, the costumes need to have a shine and a flow. 
It seems like designing for the stage would be different because you have to keep in mind how clothes will look for the audience members at the back of the crowd. 
Not only that, but it’s also how much you sweat and how you move. We think about that. Yesterday, for example, we did a really stiff suit that I knew would be a drag to be in, but it was so worth it because we wanted that silhouette—we wanted to make a play on David Bowie and a boy dressed as a girl. 
It feels like fashion has been moving toward more of a genderless aesthetic, too. 
Yeah, if I could wear suits all day long, I would. I want to make a few suits that I could wear every day in life in cream, nude, beige, and black. 
Obviously you stick with your specific aesthetic within a festival environment, but what’s your take on festival fashion? 
I love when people express themselves and cut loose. My favorite era is the ’70s, so it’s fine. 
Is there one festival where you think people dress better than the others?
Sweden is a great country because it’s so cold all the time. When it’s finally summer, people go all-out and they don’t overdo it. So I would say that Sweden is the most stylish. They’re minimalists, and I like that. 
Have any artists approached you to help out with their costumes since you’ve become known for yours? 
No, but Gina [and I] are thinking about putting together a thing. We’re really good at dreaming up stuff and making it happen. We go under the name GYL and are planning on setting up a studio in L.A. We mostly do things for our friends, and we have a flea market where we’ll sell our old stuff. 
What’s your impression of how other artists dress for the stage? Are there any contemporary acts you look up to? 
Yeah, but I also know that there’s a whole machine behind them, so it’s not necessarily their vision. It’s more the old people like Patti Smith, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Prince. 
Do you have any plans to release the projects you’ve been working on under GYL? 
I have a couple of side projects that I’m working on. My best friend Yola from Mexico has a mezcaleria in Oaxaca, and me, Gina, and her are doing a mescal called Yola Mezcal. That’s going to come in the near future and it’s going to be amazing. It’s female empowerment: a strong drink for strong women. I’m the art director, so I’m doing all of the design for the bottle and taking pictures. 
If you weren’t doing music full time, do you think you’d be working in the design world? 
Yeah, I’m super-interested in design and photography and curating worlds.

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