Everything about Erykah Badu is timeless. Her music, vibe and personal style. The woman can do no wrong. When we think of style icons, Ms. Badu certainly comes to the top of our mind, and she’s always been in her own lane.
When we look back at the late 90s, early 2000s, the “Bohemian” or “Afrocentric” look started with her— a trendsetter if you will. She was famous for her head wraps and personal jewelry. She always played with prints and patterns. But, what many may not know is, back when she first debuted, Erykah Badu wasn’t into the luxury designers. She rocked designs by Black-owned brands.
Fast-forward to present day, and she's collaborating with luxury brand Marni on her own capsule collections. Now, we all can have a little Badu flavor in our closet.
Taking a breather from her current 25-city "Unfollow Me" tour, with yasiin bey, Ms. Badu chatted with EBONY to dish on her style journey and how the partnership with Marni came about.
EBONY: Who were some of the designers you wore in your early years? The late 90s/early 2000s.
Erykah Badu: In that time period, I didn’t wear name brand designers. My designers were Charlene Shepard Duncan from Brooklyn and Coleen Wright from Dallas, Texas. I mean, it was people that I just liked. There was no internet to seek out those things. It would just kind of happen. I was big on supporting small Black brands, because of their talent and creativity. I had a platform, so I used it to push them and impress upon their brands. Then I started blending everything together. I was just more concerned with what felt good to me. It felt good to me to push those Black brands.
How do you put different pieces together? Does it depend on the day or your mood? What goes into your process as far as your fashion sense?
My thoughts, you know, the way I think and see things. I see things like shape, color, layers and art. The possibility of that and everything in the way I write a tweet. The way I prepare tea, the way I prepare my bath, the way I do anything. I see some kind of art, it’s just the way it comes out of my head. It's a very natural thing for me to get up and layer things. Even if I'm going to the mailbox, the pieces that I pick—any pieces that I pick—are going to be something dear to me, like a talisman or amulet. And the rest is grace. I don’t know why, but it’s just grace.
Did you ever think that you and the fashion industry would collide?
The fashion walk that I'm doing right now started last year when Anna Wintour asked me to walk the Vogue runway for their New York Fashion Week show. I love fashion, I love style, mostly. I’m gonna always keep up with fashion. Lately it’s easier since we have social media. When Anna asked me to walk that runway, I kind of like said, okay. That was a nudge from the universe to say, shine as Erykah, and I did.
How did the Marni capsule collaboration come about?
I chose that fashion house because I went to the Met Ball shortly after the Vogue runway show with Francesco Russo, who is the creative director of Marni. It also happens to be one of my favorite brands, as it’s eclectic and has lots of knits and layers and things. After we went to the ball together, he said, “you wanna do a capsule collection together?” And I said, “Sure, yeah”. We began to collaborate and create, and that's how it happened.
You know, it was strategic. All those things align, and were a result of the private moments that I've had behind the scenes to make things happen. I believe the universe conspires with you to make those things happen. So he asked me that day, and then that happened, and it lines up. Then the next thing lines up. Going to New York Fashion Week, I felt really creative. And this is a time when I feel just really free and creative. I believe my best work is still in me. So I'm pushing through until I get to that. I'm close, really close. So I can’t quit now.