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Lykke Li & Other Stories Interview Dazed
Lykke Li for & Other Stories

Lykke Li on designing for women who get shit done

To celebrate the opening of & Other Stories' first New York store, the singer dishes on her collab and talks dressing like the man you want to marry

& Other Stories New York, located at 575 Broadway, opens today.

We’ve had a thing for the dark, raw, Spartan charms of Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li long before those qualities became default lip service for all things slightly grim, well-styled and quintessentially Scandinavian. To name a few: The Killing, Tove Lo, the undying Millennium Trilogy. As old Nordic traditions morph into new global obsessions – from forage-focused cuisine to high minimalism – it’s genius timing for the highly intuitive Li to join creative forces with one of Sweden’s most popular clothing brands, & Other Stories. The result? A great capsule collection of immaculate linchpins – from a perfect white button-up (the Patti shirt, of course) to lush noir silk bell-bottoms with a trumpet leg. And, naturally, wicked accessories – including slim block-heel boots, loafers, and a massive croc-inspired tote tellingly called the “Hotel Shopper.” As you might hope, it’s all meant to be worn with modern ease: off the cuff, on the run. Li grew up in three different countries and is a globally touring musician, after all. Mutability is vital.

Her collaboration with Stories’ ready-to-wear designer Behnaz Aram was an organic, fluid evolution: an experimental journey into design reflecting her increasingly confident desires and perspectives as a young woman and artist. And, at her core, an eternal gypsy spirit: “I basically created the whole collection from the quote, ‘Not all those who wander are lost,’” she says, arguably the first to eagerly apply Tolkien to fashion philosophy.

Your style and sound emblemises cinema. Who are your top five style inspirations from film?

Lykke Li: Faye Dunaway in Chinatown, Liv Ullman in Persona, Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby, Nastassja Kinski in Paris Texas, Sissy Spacek in Badlands.

This is your first clothing collection. What were your priorities?

Lykke Li: As in everything I do it was important to be truthful and honest and as the collaboration happened in a very organic and spontaneous way. It was also important to keep that DIY feeling to it. I've been highly involved in everything, from the first sketch to art directing the photo shoots. 

For your own videos you tend to embody an essence or a character; for this you are dressing a consumer as well as yourself. How did that process challenge you?

Lykke Li: I honestly only thought about what I wanted to wear as I am convinced there are so many women out there like me. Women on the hustle who'd rather get shit done than stand in front of a mirror. Be the man you want to marry basically, and there's is simply no time or space to wear anything other than a perfect loafer when you gotta move fast. I always strive for freedom, freedom of thought and expression. I want to be able to run around the streets and if I need to pack a carry-on in five minutes this is what I would bring. Along with perfume, books and a stack of cash or gold jewelry. And maybe my dream catcher.

What about the design process did you find surprising?

Lykke Li: How difficult it is and also as with anything creative, everything in life is a process and the first sample of it is always disappointing. Kinda like hearing a first mix of a song. It takes a lot of tweaking to get it perfect, and even then it could always be better. The struggle never ends. 

What are your style priorities?

Lykke Li: Simple, classic, androgynous, high quality fabrics and seamless design.

You once said, “If I have the choice, I'll always go for black, white or grey, but not all at the same time. I like having a simple look. If I do experiment, I'd rather work more with shapes than with colors.” This collection is all black, and definitely about shape. What led to the shapes?

Lykke Li: I'm always looking for silhouettes that seem "invisible" to the eye, as in that it's so well-tailored to your body that you won’t even notice what you're wearing. It needs to be dramatic in a subtle way. Like a memory, all you can remember is a coat flaring in the wind and the smell of musk. 

What draws you to 70s era silhouettes? What do they represent to you?

Lykke Li: I think it represents female liberation and glamour. All of the sudden, females started wearing pants in a very literal way. You can have your cake and eat it too. You can wear a suit and a lipstick at the same time. To me it's the sexiest era. 

What was your perception of musicians doing clothing lines before this and is it something you thought you’d do?

Lykke Li: Probably the same way you all think; but, you simply can't think about other people. If you want to give it a go, give it a go. I will grab any opportunity I can to learn something new. That's the best thing about the times we are living in, the crossing of genres, occupations and lifestyles. 

What is the relationship between your own style and classic minimal Scandinavian aesthetics?

Lykke Li: I'm born and bred to keep it minimal so it has influenced me a lot, but I will always add a gypsy flare to it. I basically created the whole collection from the quote "Not all those who wander are lost". 

And how did your globetrotting – everywhere from Portugal to India to Sweden – upbringing influence how you looked at and thought about clothes?

Lykke Li: It's important that the way you dress tells a story and reveals something about you and your philosophy. That's why I love jewellery so much, not only for sentimental reasons but it's a memory I can hold on to. I will always remember which flea market I bought which ring at and how I felt. Was I heartbroken? Was I sad? Was I broke or was it a celebratory moment? It's all very symbolic and ritualistic. 

Do you see a parallel between your recent turn towards brutal honesty and nakedness musically and the types of clothing you are drawn towards now?

Lykke Li: Yes, I want to strip away anything unnecessary. No frills or colour. I honestly don't even care that much about clothes, I'm more interested in dressing in a uniform. One that will empower and keep me protected. I don't follow fashion at all and almost only wear stuff I've made or found. 

Has your Saturn’s Return affected your sense of identity in relation to clothes and how you present yourself? If so, how?

Lykke Li: I'm happy to say I'm on the cusp of becoming a woman, I know who I am and what I want and what I need and what I look good in and not. I only dress in what I feel comfortable in and I've found that I am more comfortable in a loafer then a heel for example and I don't feel good in dresses. In fact I don't like to shop at all. I rather stay home in silk pyjamas and only stick my head out when I must. And then it will most likely be in a black blazer.