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Fashion Q&A: Lianne La Havas

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Lianne La Havas 2012 Brit Awards

From the moment I was introduced to Lianne La Havas’ video for Forget, I was totally smitten. Her beautiful British accent, sleek over-sized side bun and quirky style was very refreshing. Once she stopped by the ESSENCE.com office, it was confirmed that the 22 year-old singer was my new style crush and finding out all fashion details was a must.

ESSENCE.com: I love your style, could you tell us a little about it?
LIANNE LA HAVAS: I don't really know. I like to dress for my shape — I think it's important for women to do that generally — it makes me feel good. But I like kind of mixing boyish things with really feminine things. So I love a buttoned-up shirt. I like collars in general, I just think they are very strong. On stage I like stuff with big shoulders. That's making me feel really like Basic Instinct at the moment. So stuff that suites my shape but also is an extension of my personality, I suppose, that's what I like to use fashion for and it's fun to do that. And I really love the movie Annie Hall. I love Diane Keaton's style in Annie Hall, but I like to think my own style is like a cross between Annie Hall and Prince. For some reason, something like that.

ESSENCE.com: So where do you get the inspiration for your videos?
LA HAVAS: My videos, well just different things really. I listen to the song and I think about what it looks like in my mind, and some songs feel more colorful, some feel more black and white. I know a couple of directors as well so we will brainstorm with each other how we both feel about the videos. But I do work with a stylist. Her name is Beth Boxton and she's my best friend, and she has her own crazy style. She's really good at making women feel good about themselves and dressing them for their shapes and stuff so I take a lot of inspiration from her.

ESSENCE.com: Who are your go-to designers?
LA HAVAS: Well I can't really afford designer clothes at the moment, but I am associated with various designers that I've borrowed clothes — and also with Moschino particularly. During London Fashion Week, I played as the models were coming down the runway for their Cheap & Chic range and that was the first time that they showed it in London, and all of the stuff happened to be just completely my style. I loved it all! It was that feminine-but-tomboy thing. Lots of blouses buttoned-up, powdery-pink, bright shocking colors. It was just really cute, almost 60's inspired, which I liked as well. So I love Moschino and their main line because it's just so over-the-top and amazing. But also I love jewelry by Erickson Beamon. I would love to own a piece one day, but I've borrowed a lot of necklaces that I love. So Erickson Beamon is a big favorite. And also Christian Louboutin shoes. Love them — still don't own any, but I love them. I wore some in one of my videos and they're amazing. But, you didn't get to see my feet in the video.

ESSENCE.com: Can you tell me a little about your favorite shops - here or abroad?
LA HAVAS: Okay, it's probably in London. I love vintage and I shop vintage a lot because it's just such great value for money. So there's this shop called Beyond Retro which is famous in London. It's probably about three or four stores, and they are huge stores. You can just get lost in there and there's all kind of things. It's all one of a kind so that's probably like my favorite place to shop, and I will always find something in there, and especially if it is for stage. There are just like some crazy sequin things or stuff with big sleeves like I am into right now.

ESSENCE.com: So what's the one fashion piece that you can't live without?
LA HAVAS: Probably my wedge heel shoes. They make any outfit better. And they are also quite comfortable because they are platforms so they are not too steep. I love those and I wear them on stage, and I wear them during the day.

ESSENCE.com: Fashion icons?
LA HAVAS: Prince.

ESSENCE.com: What is it about Prince that you love?
LA HAVAS: I love everything. He's just not afraid, you know. And he uses clothes that express himself — just like another way, like using music to express himself. I think it's good to not be afraid of fashion, and to try things, and to break boundaries and people have followed him since then. And I love how mysterious he is as well, while not being so. He's like the most famous person in the world and still very mysterious. So I like that about him.

ESSENCE.com: So where do you find your inspiration for your on-stage looks, versus your everyday looks, versus your videos?
LA HAVAS: On stage stuff just kind of jumps out at me or I'll feel inspired depending on the room that I'm playing in. But generally I think if it's a bigger room I want the shape to stand out, which is good because I'm not tall as well so it makes me feel taller. I also like block colors when it's on stage, because when you are far away it pops.

And also sparkly things. Things with just very definite shapes and outlines. But everyday I like to feel comfortable but look polished as well. So I look to vintage for that and just mixing it with something perhaps not vintage, like my shoes. Again, I like color during the day and high-waisted things. Also, I have my Dr. Marten boots with me so they're great, they just go with anything. So you can make them really feminine as well. So that's kind of my day-to-day look.

ESSENCE.com: What was the last item that you purchased?
LA HAVAS: It was vintage and it was a like a bolero jacket. It looked like it used to belong to a dress or something because it has white long sleeves and it just kind of cuts-off at the back there, and just goes around. But it's got these big puff ball white sleeves with bows on the sides and pearls. And like anything, I put it on and instantly it's a show outfit.

Check out Lianne La Havas in ESSENCE Magazine's July "Britain's Soul Music Takeover" story and her new album 'Is Your Love Big Enough?' in stores August 7th.

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