Kelela on Her New Look and Returning to Fashion Month


American singer Kelela released her second album, Raven, back in February to much critical acclaim. She first burst onto the music scene with 2017’s Take Me Apart (with hits such as “LMK” and “Frontline”), but the star’s much-anticipated follow up record sees her experimenting with a whole new sound. The album blends different influences to create a unique lineup of tracks that are meditative, dance-worthy, yet lyrically poignant and emotional, too. “Sonically, it surveys several different facets of Black dance music that aren’t usually presented alongside each other, but that I’ve always seen as related—like digital jungle and dancehall music, techno, and house,” Kelela tells Vogue. “I show these connections by mixing the songs into one another, as if they were being DJ’ed. Baptismal water sounds also aid transitions for a full-on immersive experience.”

Her fans were eager for a new record after Kelela’s five-year hiatus, and the singer says she wanted to create music that they could instantly connect with. While the tracks dive into ideas of “pushing back against male stoicism and emotional stuntedness,” or “anti-Blackness and white complacency,” Kelela wanted the songs to have a softness and vulnerable spirit to them. She felt a dance record was the right way to delve into these topics. “This album is for those who connect with these ideas, but don’t want to harden,” says Kelela. “I love making club music, but I always want you to be able to go home and discover a depth that’s productive and healing when you’re listening in solitude.”

Given she started the year off with such a buzzy album release, it was only natural that Kelela kept the momentum going during fashion month. Kelela was all over the European front rows, delivering impeccable outfits at the Bottega Veneta, Ferragamo, Courrèges, Dries Van Noten, Loewe, and Ann Demeulemeester presentations. For the star, attending such shows is not only an opportunity to get creatively inspired by the clothes, but also a call to express herself through style. “Attending shows allows me to get into character—to find the intersection between my own personal style and the designers’ aesthetic, making the look my own,” says Kelela, who last attended the spring 2020 shows in Europe. “The shows itself are very inspiring for me as a performer, as I’m always interested in seeing how people present their work.”

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