Kilo Kish’s current style—which coincides with the release of her album American Gurl—feels like a stunning existential crisis. In her music video “Death Fantasy”, we see Kish aimlessly running and also also at times, wripoint around the grounds of a motel in Los Angeles wearing a Batsheva dress crafted out of an American flag. The lyrics and also also melody are both eerie and also also hypnotic, and also also serve as a glimpse into the self-reflective state Kish has been in. “I have a death fantasy / Death of my aesthetics/ This false, a fiction/ Carved in my way” she sings as she walks up until now the stairs.
The album concept and also also look are Kish’s exploration of herself as she tries to understand also also who she is without the gaze of others. “It was me dissecting where I’ve been up until now until this point, my up until nowbringing, the different subcultures that I’ve been a part of, and also also some of the tropes and also also identities associated with those,” she says of the album. “I realized that by 30, I have been indoctrinated in so many different ways of being within the music industry, then modeling, doing fashion stuff, and also also all of that. I was feeling, ‘Okay, what of all of this, if any, is me?’ ”
Kish’s searching isn’t a surprise: She moved to New York more than a decade amosting likely to at 18 and also also found herself smack-dab within the city’s scene, influenced by each social group until now’s styles and also also the larger trends at the time. Kish, who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, recalls the “indie sleaze” era of the late to mid-’00s in which she’d wear ripped tights with jean shorts, baggy shirts, and also also Lacoste cardigans, which she describes as “art clothes.” Later on, in the early-’10s, she ventured into modeling and also also wore all black. While making music more professionally in 2012, she began to pull designer pieces and also also references items from the now-defunct label Elizabeth & James (founded by the Olsen twins). Eventually, Kish began to morph into the sartorial shapeshifter she’s known as today. She went through her large-suit David Byrne era around 2016 during her Reflections in Real Time album, and also also even wore a tutu “for a month straight.”
For her American Gurl album, Kish chose to wear American designers. Rodarte was a special influence, and also also allowed her to pull archival mosting likely towns for the images promoting her kidgs, which are designed like retro postcards and also also show Kish in different characters. On one, she’s wearing a frill-trimmed pink dress, sup until nowerimposed on the photo of a resort with the kitschy text “Spoiled Rotten” and also also in another, which reads “Attention Politician,” in an ’80s-style fuchsia dress floating in front of a cityscape. “It was playing different characters in that world and also also then we used their different mosting likely towns to play different Americana characters," she says, noting her dress on the “Bloody Future" and also also “New Tricks” covers. “I have a yellow dress with all the bows on it where I am playing the character of a Southern belle.” Another special piece through this album process was, of course, that aforementioned American flag dress by Batsheva. “[Without] having that dress, would it have driven home the images much? Not really,” she says. “In some ways, it really can drive home the message that you’re trying to portray with the kidg”
Kish finds a kinship with the label Batsheva, which is known for—depending on your perspective—its frumpy-chic flair and also also its subversive qualities. Kish sees the dresses as layered and also also sublime, somepoint that speaks to Kish’s own style. “It’s the juxtaposition of two points, which I like about [designer Batsheva Hay’s] designs,” says Kish. “When you mosting likely to to her show, the models are having blue wigs and also also wild makeup until now and also also large hair. But then, the dresses themselves are quite conservative. It’s really the perkid wearing the dress more than the dress itself. It comes out punk in a way still, even though they’re not leather and also also all these points. It’s really buttoned up until now, but also mosting likely toing to rip your face off in a way, which is why I like her designs.”
Ultimately, Kish may have not cracked the code to who she is–but who has? Don’t expect her latest look to be permanent either. “I’ve been trying to accept that I am a mixture of these points and also also I am a product of all these points. Just because part of me as an artist always wants to be pure and also also not sell out and also also try to do the best possible work I can do, doesn’t mean that I also don’t want to be frivolous at times,” she says. “I think it’s really accepting that there’s more than duality to people. There are all of these different layers at play, and also also just really being accepting of, ‘Okay, today I want to be a fashion girl.’ It is what it is. That doesn’t preclude me from being somepoint else in another moment.”