Janelle Monáe on ‘The Electric Lady’ and Her Walking Art Wardrobe
Since entrancing us with her debut record The ArchAndroid, Janelle Monáe has cut a rug into hearts with her apocalyptic dance moves, gender-bending tuxedos, and idiosyncratic music videos.
The 27-year-old’s sophomore album, The Electric Lady, debuted yesterday. We were thrilled to not only have gotten a sneak preview of the album during American Express’ Unstaged Series last Friday, but to go tête-à-tête with the singer about her next chapter.
Our first order of business was to ask the afro-futuristic artist about her collaboration with Rebecca Minkoff on the designer’s Spring 2014 show, where Monáe performed her hits like “Tightrope,” as the designs paraded down the runway.
“It was electrifying,” she told Styleite. “It was two Sagittarian women coming together and doing a collaboration with art and music. It’s one that I’ll never forget.”
As for her thoughts on the Latin American women-inspired collection, she was just as struck as we were by the floral embroidered looks, despite her Karl Lagerfeld-approved kinship with black and white.
“There were moments when I was singing that I almost forgot my words because there were so many things [on the runway] that I wanted to respond to immediately,” she said. “Her attention to detail is incredible. It felt good to work with another Electric Lady.”
Naturally, Minkoff displayed mutual admiration for Monáe when we got up with the queen of downtown cool post-show. “What is amazing about her is she sticks to her guns and says, ‘I do not fear, this is what I stand for.’” she said.
Minkoff pointed out that one of the collection’s muses was Frida Khalo, who by coincidence has also been a catalyst for Monáe’s personal style.
“I’m a visual artist so I’ve been really inspired by her,” she said. “The structure of her work is like walking art. That’s what I consider my wardrobe to be — walking art with a message.”
The next suite of Monáe’s Metropolis concept series showcases a similar intrepid message, which calls out distinctly to women. While there’s certainly a strong male presence on the album — legendary Prince, seasoned hitmaker Big Boi, and newcomer Miguel all helped her lay down tracks — the music abounds with intoxicating female energy from the likes of Erykah Badu and Solange.
“This album is highlighting The Electric Lady, a new breed a new 21st century woman,” she said. “She doesn’t have a particular hair color, size, or shape, but the Electric Lady is a commonality between us. It’s our service to nurture the community by doing great things with out art.”
The Electric Lady is available now. Get a peep at her American Express Unstaged performance, from our shiny new Instagram, below: