A rain­bow suits her fine

Los Angeles Times - - IMAGE - B L >>> Y EIGH NN ACK­SON im­age@la­times.com

-A J When singer-song­writer Jenny Lewis re­leased her 2014 al­bum “The Voy­ager,” she also in­tro­duced her “graf­fiti Gram Par­sons suit.” It was a sar­to­rial nod to the or­nate, na­ture-in­spired suit that flam­boy­ant tai­lor Nudie Cohn styled for the coun­try rock icon in the ’60s. Now Lewis’ sig­na­ture look, her orig­i­nal suit was sourced by stylist Shirley Ku­rata, then air­brushed by graphic designer Adam Siegel. The star-dusted de­signs have been splashed across all things Lewis — from her gui­tar to her shoes to the la­bel of her own pri­vate wine. She’s been suited on “Jimmy Kim­mel Live!” and on­stage at last year’s Lol­la­palooza and Austin City Lim­its. Fans are no doubt won­der­ing if Lewis will don her mag­i­cal rain­bow suit when she hits the sun­baked desert stage at the Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val on April 12 and 19.

The Stu­dio City-based singer called from New York — where she was shoot­ing a video for her “smol­der­ing ex” sin­gle “She’s Not Me” — to talk suits, style evo­lu­tion, Good­will shop­ping and her least fa­vorite Coachella fash­ions. Will the “graf­fiti Gram Par­sons suit” be com­ing to Coachella with you?

First of all, I want to ad­dress the suit, which has re­ally changed my out­look on life and fash­ion. It makes me feel like a lady ver­sion of Willy Wonka. I have four suits, and the more I post on my Instagram … peo­ple are start­ing to turn on the suit. They’re start­ing to com­ment: “God, Jenny! You re­ally need to stop wear­ing that suit. Like, right now!” And I just won­der why would any­one wear any­thing other than rain­bows if they had the choice?

I don’t know if peo­ple know the dif­fer­ence be­tween the suits be­cause to me they’re so dif­fer­ent and they’re in­di­vid­ual works of art. Each one is so unique and beau­ti­ful, and I feel so mag­i­cal when I wear them. But to an­swer your ques­tion, I have a spe­cial new thing for Coachella, and it’s the­mat­i­cally in line with what I’ve been do­ing but slightly dif­fer­ent.

So you can’t give any hints?

Well, I don’t wanna fully give it away, but I may have to in­stall shoul­der pads. [Laughs.]

It isn’t that I don’t like your rain­bows. I was just con­cerned for you … that you might get over­heated.

I ap­pre­ci­ate that. And I ac­tu­ally played Lol­la­palooza last year in the rain­bow suit and... I was go­ing to faint on­stage, it was so hot! But there is some­thing about wear­ing a suit for me where I sort of em­body a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter than if I’m in hot pants. What is that char­ac­ter? How would you de­scribe it?

There’s some­thing re­ally grounded feel­ing about wear­ing a men’s suit. There’s a cer­tain ease to it, you know? My pos­ture’s kind of re­laxed.

What is your take on “Coachella style” be­com­ing just as im­por­tant as the mu­sic for some peo­ple?

Well, I never be­grudge some­one who wants to wear as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. [Laughs.] Which seems to be the trend, like “a bikini with a flower crown” is ac­cept­able at­tire. It is out in the desert, so even if it is from For­ever 21 — or For­ever 31 … or For­ever 41, as I will call it in a few years — I think it hear­kens back to Gram Par­sons and that kind of idea of the desert in the ’70s. So I think it’s well in­tended.

But I would like the flower crown to be re­tired for a mo­ment. How would you de­scribe your per­sonal style evo­lu­tion?

Late bloomer. Grow­ing up, I was a tomboy, but I was also an actress. I had to dress up for my day job, but when I fin­ished work on the set I would change into a gi­ant pair of Dick­ies and a weird rave hat. Ac­tu­ally, my mom, for what­ever rea­son, en­cour­aged me to not wear skirts or shorts. So as a kid I never ex­posed my arms or legs for the most part.

So in my mid- to late 20s, I sort of had a style revo­lu­tion. ... My shorts just kept get­ting shorter be­cause I could, and I felt con­fi­dent for the first time in my life be­cause I’d found my­self through mu­sic.

It’s funny go­ing from that in my late 20s, early 30s and find­ing my­self in a suit in my mid-30s.

It’s weird how … it’s al­ways like when I’m hav­ing a per­sonal cri­sis, my fash­ion re­flects that. And when I come out of it, it’s like I have in­cred­i­ble thrift store luck. It’s like the thrift store gods will look down on me and they’re like, “We will give you th­ese gifts!” Do you do a lot of thrift­ing?

Yeah. I’d say 90% of my wardrobe is thrift. For me, the song­writ­ing process is linked to go­ing to thrift stores. Some­how it’s a very soli­tary mission to go on. And there’s al­ways mu­sic in the back­ground that you wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily lis­ten to on your own. And the cast of char­ac­ters is al­ways so amaz­ing. I al­ways have the best con­ver­sa­tions when I’m at the Good­will! Are there any de­sign­ers that you love?

Well, I ac­cept all free things from de­sign­ers. Just putting that out there. [Laughs.] I’m ac­tu­ally friends with [Ro­darte de­sign­ers] Kate and Laura Mul­leavy. They’re so very sweet. They just sent me th­ese amaz­ing heels that I wore in the video I just shot. Rachel Antonoff is in­cred­i­ble, and she’s about my size [5-foot-3 ⁄ ], so she de­signs for smaller women. She’s so tal­ented and gen­er­ous! And Elkin is an­other L.A.-based com­pany that also has smaller women in mind, and it’s just the best stuff ever.

But if I’m go­ing to spring on my own, I will cough up the big bucks for a pair of Saint Lau­rent boots.

Ti­mothy Hiatt WireImage

JENNY LEWIS , seen in 2014, on her “graf­fiti Gram Par­sons suit”: “It makes me feel like a lady ver­sion of Willy Wonka.”

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