Style

Glitter in the Dark

Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes lets us peek inside her tour wardrobe, and it does not disappoint.

MJnatashamain

I’ve been obsessed with Natasha Khan, better known as the musical act Bat for Lashes, since I was 15 years old and heard her first album, Fur and Gold. I had just finished reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, a celebration of women’s true, wild nature, and I found Fur and Gold’s language (“The caves of our mouths are forest darkness, and the air in between is overflowing, and the rushing wolverine flies past his shiny, shiny teeth,” etc.) very appealing. I remember lying awake at night listening to that album, making up visuals in my mind: night skies and wilderness and glitter and shadows. Each song is a magical little diorama full of secret symbols waiting to be unlocked.

Bat for Lashes’s third album, The Haunted Man, came out last fall. It’s a gorgeous record that was partly inspired by stories she learned while researching her family’s history. The title song, for example, was inspired by her grandfather’s experience after having fought in World War II—he returned home to Pakistan traumatized, with nowhere to turn for help. Other songs seem more like Khan’s songwriting and orchestration are more ambitious than ever, and her lyrics just as enchanting. “You’re the train that crashed my heart, you’re the glitter in the dark,” she sings on the gorgeous ballad “Laura,” igniting a flurry of images in my brain, losing me more sleep while I picture it all. (I’m not complaining!)

Since the release of The Haunted Man, Natasha, who lives in London, has been touring nonstop. I caught the last stop on the UK leg of her tour in London last week, and she put on a phenomenal show. Earlier that day, before her sound check, I was lucky enough to get to meet Natasha. She let me peek inside her wardrobe and shared some of her favorite items with us. Here are my drawings of those special pieces, along with Natasha’s descriptions.


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1. Pentagram dress. “I’m quite excited about this one. We only made it yesterday, and I’m gonna wear it for tonight’s show. It’s just a long, black strapless dress with two shiny pentagrams and a matching cape with sparkling little stars on top.”

2. Silk flower. “I often go to old vintage shops in search of some old silk flowers, which I put little clips on. There are many descriptions of nature on The Haunted Man, about blooming, blossoming, and floral things, plants and landscapes. The record is about becoming a woman, and the flower is a metaphor for women and their sexuality. I also like the idea that Billie Holiday always wore a flower in her hair.”

3. Full-length print dress. “I designed this gown with a dressmaker. I was thinking about some old folk illustrations I had seen, as well as Vogue magazines from the ’50s and ’60s. I was also very inspired by the documentary Grey Gardens and women in the ’60s and ’70s wearing a lot of matching graphic prints. I’m in love with the idea of dressing all in patterns.”

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4. Red cape. “This one is one of many capes I’ve had. Capes are mystical and wizard-y, there is something magical about them. They have this alchemical aspect—you can hide and reveal things in a very theatrical way. This one was made for me by Romance Was Born.”

5. Locket necklace.This necklace with a moon and the night sky was made by my friend Lee May Foster. She has this little shop called Bonbi Forest where she sells her jewelry, T-shirts, and screen-printed textiles. She makes beautiful things, and she sent this locket to me as a birthday present.”

6. Black-and-white unitard. “This was made for the ‘All Your Gold’ video. I was doing some contemporary dance and choreography stuff while I was writing the songs for The Haunted Man, and the inspiration for this outfit came from contemporary ballet costumes and Merce Cunningham in the 1960s. I was also inspired by a dancer called Martha Graham—she was very big-skirted, all in monochrome.”

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7. Scary-animal mask. “Whenever I go to America I go to the Halloween shops. They make such a big deal out of Halloween there! I was born a week before Halloween, so as a little kid my birthday parties were always Halloween parties. [This mask] reminds me of films like Donnie Darko, E.T., The Karate Kid, and all those movies from the ’80s with kids dressing up and being ghoulish. There is something punk rock about that.”

8. Rainbow crop top, maxi skirt, and cape. “After they made that red cape for me, Romance Was Born designed a rainbow one for their own collection. Then they made me a matching skirt and a little top so I could wear them all together onstage (with my favorite Hasbeens).”

9. Blond wig. “Blond [hair] represents the femme fatale aspect of myself. She comes out in different ways all the time. The wig is a kind of symbolic disguise—it reminds me a little bit of David Lynch’s films. In Lost Highway the main character goes all the way from black hair to blond. When she’s blond she looks innocent and sweet, but deep inside her soul she’s the darkest one.” ♦

21 Comments

  • Fronoan August 23rd, 2013 3:49 PM

    I fanboyed so much when I saw this in my feed. She’s so cool. And she can actually pull off occult-chic!:D

    • strawberryhair August 23rd, 2013 5:38 PM

      fanboy: now officially a thing :D

  • Chloe22 August 23rd, 2013 4:36 PM

    Illustrating the clothes is a great way to show them. It reminds me of Vogue and other fashion magazines from a long time ago, when artists (like Andy Warhol) had to come in and paint the latest collections. Hearing about a new artist is great too, considering I need some new music to listen to!
    http://rhinestonemoon.blogspot.com/

  • AidaA August 23rd, 2013 4:52 PM

    Everything here is so amazing! That Romance Was Born cape. I am dying. I’d love a cape

    -Aida

    http://sunshinesuperwoman.blogspot.co.uk

  • Sophie ❤ August 23rd, 2013 6:59 PM

    I am in live with her style- it’s just so amazing!

    http://theneonpapaya.com

  • dessertstealer August 23rd, 2013 9:20 PM

    I love her music and her style.

    rafwillyolivier.blogspot.com

  • LollipopTree August 23rd, 2013 10:18 PM

    LOVE Bat For Lashes, that rainbow outfit is gorgeous

  • Mielzy August 23rd, 2013 10:55 PM

    I was lucky enough to see Bat For Lashes perform twice earlier this year (and I got to briefly meet her once as well!) and oh man, the rainbow Romance Is Born outfit is STUNNING in action! It perfectly suited the vibe of her music and looked like it would be super fun to dance and twirl around in. Loved the illustrations as well!

  • Ree August 24th, 2013 5:24 AM

    I was so happy when I saw this, Natasha is such an incredible musician and a wonderful person!

  • Lori August 24th, 2013 6:25 AM

    I got to see Natasha perform a few weeks ago when she supported Blur in Ireland and she was sooo cool and magical! She was wearing a multi-coloured jumpsuit type of thing and her dance moves were so cool and free – she was so mesmerizing and her voice is incredible too :)

    • Marjainez August 24th, 2013 7:30 AM

      Yess – she’s amazing live and her voice feels stronger than ever! And btw that lovely jumpsuit you’re talking about is an another piece from Romance Was Born. xxx

  • Fee August 24th, 2013 8:26 AM

    I love that there are drawings accompanying this instead of photos, it actually works really well…and dear god, I want that unitard, and the rainbow outfit.

    http://contraluna.blogspot.com/

  • KatGirl August 24th, 2013 12:39 PM

    I loved the drawings! Marjainez, you are awesome :)
    http://www.kawaiiunicornsandsparkleponies.wordpress.com

  • annakarenina August 24th, 2013 4:03 PM

    If I could pull off the gorgeous rainbow outfit I would wear nothing else. Beaut illustrations xx

    http://megansbookmark.blogspot.com

  • MaddyGrace August 24th, 2013 11:46 PM

    Uh, Natasha is just perfect. Just. Perfect.

    http://www.maddygraces.blogspot.com

  • JadeTayla August 25th, 2013 7:38 AM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!!
    Natasha Khan is a goddess on stage.

    http://daftpunkisplayingatmahouse.tumblr.com

  • tiffy August 25th, 2013 3:08 PM

    I love how she turns her music into a full-on art experience, from her music videos to her album art to her costumes, make-up, everything. Dark and ethereal and dreamy, looooooveee!

    http://taylorswiftcharmschool.tumblr.com

  • sweetsweetsweat August 26th, 2013 5:07 PM

    too good <3
    http://fingertipsonmyhips.tumblr.com

  • Hannah May August 26th, 2013 7:37 PM

    I love Bat for Lashes! So glad Rookie did this.

  • Cynthia August 27th, 2013 12:35 AM

    Beautiful drawings!! Really enjoyed the article x

  • tvllbodies December 16th, 2013 1:38 AM

    She wore that rainbow cape/crop top/skirt(#8) when I saw her during Coachella and I am so happy it made this list because it’s one of my all time favorite costume pieces I’ve ever seen.