September 3 2014

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“Azealia’s Coming Up In The World!” Banks Talks Beauty


In case you somehow missed it, Azealia Banks is fashion’s latest obsession. The Harlem-bred rapper has sung for the houses of Mugler and Lagerfeld, starred in Alexander Wang’s latest T campaign, and, just this week, unofficially opened NYFW with a raucous SPIN show. Yesterday, Yung Rapunxel—as the well-coiffed Banks’ nearly 200,000 Twitter followers have come to know her—debuted her latest music-fashion crossover project: a limited-edition MAC lipstick of the same name. “I’m a huge makeup fan,” Banks told us yesterday as the Fashion’s Night Out madness threatened to close in on her from outside the MAC store on Broadway in Soho (thank God for that double-paned glass window barrier). “I always make the joke that I’m a tomboy, but I’m not really. I’m very much into my hair and my makeup”—a fact that is evident to anyone whose ever met the petite 21-year-old in person; her long, aubergine locks dangle well past her waist and her eyes are rarely without a slick of metallic eye shadow and a strip of fake lashes (“I don’t have patience for the individual ones,” she admits). Here, Banks filled us in on some of her other beauty essentials—including the Rihanna-inspired tatts and the Paris manicure address you may want to write down before PFW gets under way.

How did your relationship with MAC come about?
I had a meeting with them about two months ago. I’m always changing my hair, and when I met with them I had this purple hair. I did [it] for Splendor in the Grass [the music festival] in Australia. This is gonna be my color for the fall. And when you have such strong hair, you need to match it, you know; I can’t wear a red lip with purple hair! So I said we should do this purple lipstick.

Let’s talk about that hair. It is long. What’s the maintenance like?
The maintenance is so easy! People think it’s so hard, but it’s really not. I use Dove Intensive Care shampoo and conditioner and their leave-in and that’s it. Those are my three products. And I use Biosilk when I straighten it and curl it and stuff. I wash my hair twice a week; one is a co-wash, and at the end of the week, it’s with shampoo and stuff. I feel like the more you condition your hair, the better it is.

And those nails? The color is a perfect match for your hair and lipstick at the moment. How often do you switch them up?
My nails are acrylic—they’re fake! I do them. It’s kind of like therapy. You know how some people sit down to read a book? I’ll sit down to do my nails. I can do acrylics and all that stuff. I’m self-taught. I’ve been meaning to soak this set off forever but I just haven’t had time! Once one breaks I soak them off and get a new one.

That must be a pain on tour.
Well, there are acrylic nail places everywhere. My Yelp App is very handy—I just type in “acrylic nails.”

Have you discovered any nail salon gems in your travels?
There’s this place in France, I don’t know how to say it…L’Ongles Fantasy. There are two of them—one on Rue Malesherbes. It’s pretty reasonably priced. I went to this other place in France and I got charged €280! I wanted to take off running. But this place, you can get a full set for €50.

Your recent affinity for high-waisted shorts and crop tops has revealed a certain, er, taste for tattoos. How many do you have?
I have eight tattoos. I’ve been accumulating [them] since I was 17. This was my first tattoo [points to Roman numerals on left collarbone]. I got this because Rihanna has one just like it and I’m a really big Rihanna fan. It’s my birthday. My second tattoo is this wolf I have on my hip. I got it because I’m a Gemini and the two twins, Romulus and Remus, were raised by a wolf. And then…I have “Patience” and “Perseverance” [on the inside of my forearms]. I got them when I got my first record deal and I was just having such a hard time staying focused and finishing songs so I got these two—even though they didn’t help me then! Then I have “Discipline” on this shoulder and “Focus” on this shoulder. I got these ones after I got my second record deal.

The fashion world has embraced you with open arms of late. What do you make of it all? Do you have any reciprocal love for any specific designers?
I am a fashion fan but it’s more from afar. I have some friends that I would consider fashionistas, and they’re always telling me that I need to get my shit together, and I’m like, “y’all bitches don’t have jobs; y’all bitches need to get your lives together.” But I really love Jil Sander. And Tom Ford. And Jeremy Scott! Jeremy Scott’s clothes always make a joke—you’ll have, like, a hamburger shirt!

So how do you put your show looks together?
Well, Azealia’s coming up in the world! I got a stylist now—and a makeup girl and a hair girl. I work with this girl Jess Willis, I kind of came to her and I was like, “Yo, I need to look like somebody. I look like someone’s little cousin right now. I need to get this polka-dot shit off and work it.” And she was like, “OK, got you.” I’ll rip pictures off Tumblr, or pictures of artists I really like and say, “I wanna look like this.” Then she’ll be like, “How ’bout this?” And I’ll be like, “Oh, that’s right.”

Haha. What about hair and makeup—who are your go-tos?
I work with Liz Owusu for hair. And MAC supplies me with an array of the best, best, best makeup people for press. For shows, it doesn’t really matter because you sweat so much—and people are so drunk in the crowd anyway; they don’t care. I do use this stuff [for shine] called Oil Block Jelly, but it only works in my T-zone. If I put it all over my face, I’ll look like a chalkboard!

Are there any shows you’re excited to see this week?
I’m going to Jeremy Scott’s show for sure. That’s about it.

Will we see you in Europe?
I don’t think so because I have a tour! I’m going to be in Paris at the Anna Dello Russo thing for H&M, but otherwise, I’m touring—I gotta job, girl! I’ll be at my own shows.

Photo: Jesse Lirola/



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