September 1 2014

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Beauty And The Beat: Eight-Day-Old Hair, Phillip Lim Shorts, And More Coachella Prep From St. Vincent’s Annie Clark


This year’s Coachella lineup is packed with women who know how to command a crowd, wield a mascara wand—and wear a blue sequined pantsuit with gusto. Feist, Cat Power, and Florence Welch will all be flexing their vocal chords this weekend (and next) in Indio, California. But when it comes to subtle beauty, few can top Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent. The multi-instrumentalist has captivated audiences with her small but powerful voice, delicately painted lips, and raven-hued ringlets since releasing her first solo album, Marry Me, in 2007—the fashion world included; Clark has performed at Rachel Comey’s Spring 2010 show and frequently sits front-row at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Five years and two albums later (her most recent, Strange Mercy, came out last fall) and Clark is just as luminous. But how will her halo of curls and porcelain skin fare in the desert? checked in with the art-pop musician to find out what festival-ready hair products she’s stocked up on, her enviable suitcase of designer duds, and why you should never, ever eat the catering backstage.

You’ve got an amazing mess of curly hair. How do you keep it in shape when you play outside?

Gone are the days of haphazardly cutting my own hair in a dorm room. Now I go see Peter Gray every three to four months and he keeps me on track. Then I usually just run some Bumble and bumble Deeep into it when it’s wet, then let it air-dry. Hair starts looking its best when it hasn’t been washed for approximately seven to 10 days. I should be at day eight on the first weekend [of Coachella]!

You’re practically a fashion week regular at this point. Does it make you feel like you need to step up your game when it comes to choosing onstage outfits?

I was raised by jazz musicians who wouldn’t dream of stepping onstage unless they looked “proper.” It was a show of respect to the audience in those days: If you’re onstage asking people to look at you, you ought to look put-together. I tend to abide by this philosophy.

How does the venue and size of the crowd you’ll be playing to in Indio affect your packing choices?

Clothes for stage have to fit such a specific criteria! They have to be durable enough to be moved in, sweated in, and packed into a suitcase. Usually I like pieces for stage that have a definitive waistline, and some flash or architectural element that will read from 10 or 1,000 feet away. On tour, I’ve been living in a pair of Phillip Lim leather shorts and assorted tops. Other great tour clothes are Acne for comfort and pack-ability [and] Christopher Kane for color and whimsy.

So what can we expect to see you wearing at Coachella?

I’m not sure what I’ll wear for the shows, but I’ve packed a bunch of Phillip Lim favorites, a couple of Vena Cava dresses, and Karen Walker shades.

What’s been the best festival advice you’ve ever gotten from other musicians before a big show?

Steer clear of catering that’s been sitting out in the sun for a while. No one wants to play a show with food poisoning!

Photo: Tina Tyrell

Beauty And The Beat