Vanessa Carlton: a tFS Exclusive Interview

Vanessa Carlton exclusive interview

In this day and age of manufactured pop, it's always refreshing when someone like Vanessa Carlton, a singer-songwriter and pianist, comes along to remind us that it's not all about over-the-top sets and flashy back-up dancers. As down to earth as you’d expect, she is now hard at work promoting her upcoming album "Rabbits on the Run" and its lead single "Carousel" with a music video inspired by vintage fashion editorials (below). How did her new music video inspiration take shape? What red carpet moments does Carlton regret? What fashion item is the singer lusting for? Find out all this and more…

The Fashion Spot: How does your day-to-day style differ from what you're wearing when you're performing?

Vanessa Carlton: Mmmmmm…..depends on the show. Sometimes the shoes get higher and the silhouette gets streamlined so that there's a flattering line on the stage, but my aesthetic in the day into night is the same.

tFS: How important is comfort when you're getting dressed?  

VC: Well, when I head to and from ballet class – hopping on subways and trudging up rind covered concrete stairs – I like to throw on an easy peasy flowy dress and roper boots. Depends on my destination. Sometimes the vibe you want to project or the joy you feel when you put a certain thing on overrides the PAIN.

tFS: Do you follow trends? Any you particularly love or hate at the moment?

VC: I've been wearing my mom's Coach bag from '79 over my shoulder for 3 years. The leather is literally turning into spaghetti threads. Beautiful hardware. Simple design. It cuts through all IT bag trends and now Coach is resurrecting all those pieces of timeless loveliness.

tFS: You've traveled all over the world. What are some of your favorite shops and brands?

VC: For backpack, it's Victorinox. Chocolate is Vosges. For chess boards, the bazaar in Cairo. For antiques, the Armory in Newport, RI. For sick treasures and Rodarte, Opening Ceremony. I also like really sharp Japanese knives and very old wooden boxes. KD Dids knits, Freed of London is the best pointe shoe, and Swanson wines. For a unique spectrum from '30s dresses to wolf rings to vintage Yves Saint Laurent, I turn to my friend/costume designer/stylist Tracey Moulton. She doesn't name her secret rabbit hole sources…"dealers"! Gah!

Vanessa Carlton exclusive interview

tFS: The video for your new single "Carousel" is inspired by vintage fashion editorials. What decade? How did that inspiration take shape?  

VC: Part of the visual is an ode to Stevie Nicks. The mood board was a mix of images from the 70s.  The photography that I cherish so much — grainy and saturated. Analogous to a vinyl record. Going back to the effortless nature-worshiping timelessness of singer-songwriters from that time is what my team and I gravitate towards.  Also pictures in the vinyl artwork of the self titled Crosby, Stills and Nash album…that was a serious totem.

tFS: Music videos seem to be a dying art. How important are they to you as an artist?

VC: I don't think they hold the place in pop culture that they used to. My approach is this: try not to contribute to mediocrity. Videos are tough. Budgets are small. Which perhaps leads to extremes.  Either very cool and creative or pure badness.

tFS: Do you have any style icons?

VC: Lily Bart from the House of Mirth and Stevie Nicks

tFS: Have you had any red carpet moments you regret?

VC: Essentially every moment on the red carpet I've ever had before 2007-ish is an embarrassment.  I don't think I plugged in to who I am and really took the time to think through my choices until recently. That's a fantastic excuse for shitty decision making.

tFS: What's your most treasured fashion piece or accessory? 

VC: A sequined lace, floor length black jacket that Ms. Nicks gave me from her Bella Donna days.

tFS: Any fashion item you're lusting for?

VC: A Missoni bikini