Feel how you want about her: St. Vincent
has style. From her earliest videos, where she dons Bob Dylan-esque sunglasses and white t-shirts to today's David Lynch-inspired sets, Annie Clark always looks fresh to death. She also seems to be conjuring comparisons to other artists, many of whose aesthetic styles have changed the look of modern rock. There's a theatrical polish to her performances, an androgynous hint to her personal style, and sterile but appealing notes to the sets in her music videos. Let's take a look at some (but definitely not all) of the folks who may have had some effect on Clark's stylistic choices over the years.
Clark has spoken on multiple occasions about the influence David Bowie
has had on her music. In an interview during the Song Exploder
podcast, Clark mentioned that she cried over Bowie's death -- the first time she'd ever cried over the passing of someone she didn't personally know. In 2015, Clark spoke in an interview about infusing Bowie-esque theatricality into her music. You can see it at play in her videos, especially in her 2014 "Birth in Reverse" video.
Also, Annie Clark designed a line of guitars for Ernie Ball Music Man this year, and made one particular guitar as a tribute to the Thin White Duke. This one:
Clark gave another interview in 2014, this one about musical and aesthetic influence Kate Bush
. Clark mentions being drawn to Bush's album cover for The Sensual World
at age sixteen, noting Bush's "wide eyes" and saying she threw the record on the stereo on the way home, after which her life was "forever changed." It's possible that Bush's unabashedly sexual, often hyper-feminine, and wide-eyed visual style would later seep into Clark's.
and St. Vincent released an album together in 2011. There's no doubt that working together had some influence on her re: handsome suiting, but also re: creative direction for music videos, as St. Vincent's videos, like the Talking Heads', are highly stylized but utterly bizarre, using robotic movement, blank expression, and post-production effects to heighten the weirdness of a performance space. (See: the "Digital Witness
is playing some role in Clark's style choices too, though I don't think she's ever addressed it. Maybe they just have a similar taste in set design. But look at St. Vincent's shots from the "New York
" video. The red curtains. The sterilized, plastic veneer on all the set objects. The beautiful, melancholy women. The pastels mixing with the bold opaque costumes and backdrops. Am I crazy or is this music video lifted directly out of Mulholland Drive?
Though Clark has tried out a number of color palettes through the years, her personal style, as well as her costuming for performances, can consistently be described as "daring." And though androgyny-chic, like St. Vincent's music, is basically universally popular these days, the musician pulls off a suit almost as well as a musical influences David Byrne and Nick Cave. Since menswear for women is mainstream these days, perhaps it's better to study Clark's personal style and costuming choices as representative of her attitude towards sex and gender fluidity. Like Bowie, Clark discusses sexuality in her costuming, if not explicitly in her lyrics.
There are a bunch of artists who aren't making the cut for this post. Clark's sexy, colorful pop art style on Masseduction could be Warhol or Kusama inspired. She's had some incredible fashion designers, including Marc Jacobs, take interest and help shape her personal and performance styles. And that's saying nothing of the musicians and artists that we know Clark has relationships with (Jenny Lewis, Fiona Apple, Cara Delevingne, etc.)
We're excited to see what new eye candy Clark gives us after Masseduction hits the shelves this Friday.