Irreverent, idiosyncratic and bold, Santi White, or Santigold as she's better known, has developed a personal style that is as eclectic and fearless as the music she makes. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Santigold attended an all-girls school where uniforms were the standard; it was a reality that triggered an early interest in expressing individuality through fashion.
A homogenous school life coupled with coming of age in the era of the "Fly Girl" left an indelible impression on Santigold, who to this day, is just as likely to hit the stage in a sweatsuit and oversized earrings as she is to don the ball gown of some obscure conceptual designer.
Ahead of her We Buy Gold tour stop in Berlin, we sat down with the songstress to talk about fashion, consumerism and her selfie-covered clothing…
Tell us about the styling of the 99¢ album, there's a lot going on there but there's also a message.
It's basically me surrounded by a bunch of material junk that represents my life and my work, all stuffed in a bag and stamped with a price tag. It's about how everything is a product nowadays, from how we view ourselves to how we market and value ourselves.
You recently shared your beauty ritual for Glastonbury Festival with Vogue. What about your show this evening?
Just the regular: loads of hairspray, a little eye makeup, some tea.
What is the one thing you always have in your travel bag?
I carry a labradorite stone in my bag that was a birthday gift from a good friend. It's a stone with many great qualities. It's a stone of transformation that awakens magical and psychic ability. It also imparts strength and perseverance (which I need especially on the road!), and it stimulates the throat chakra.
You've said that Salt N' Pepa are your style icons. What kind of fashion cues did you take from them?
They probably started my fascination with gold jewelry! That was the era of the "Fly Girl," and I loved that whole look because it was tough but feminine. I especially liked it coming from them because to me they were feminists since they were killing it in a field dominated by guys, and still at the top of their game.
How did going to an all-girls' school inspire you to find your own sense of style?
We had to wear a uniform so it forced me to be extra creative to differentiate myself. Little things like your hair, how you wore your socks, whether you tucked in your shirt or left it out, and which shoes you wore really made a big difference.
Most important, going to school in that environment made me extra aware of how I was different and set me off on a journey to explore exactly who I was and who I wanted to be.
You've described your outlook on style as very punk, why?
I say that because I do what I want, that's my motto. I make my own fashion rules, try not to follow trends, and even decide to disengage from fashion altogether when I'm not in the mood. I think that is the essence of punk, to make your own rules.
So I saw your concert in NYC and have to ask, who designed the selfie sweatsuit?
Ha! I did. I said I wanted a pink sweatsuit with my face all over it and my stylist, April Roomet, brought it to life in the flash of an eye.
What designer is speaking to your soul right now?
I love what Alessandro Michele is doing at Gucci right now. This is a shameless plug – but for real) – the stuff my husband, Trevor Andrew, has done with him for the new collection is really fun and fresh.
Has being a mother changed your fashion sense at all?
Yes, hence my love of sweatsuits! But I'm not sure if being a mom is to blame. I've always been a sucker for comfortable looks that are still super stylish. I don't believe women should have to suffer to look good.
What are the most comfortable shoes for performing all night?
Right now I'm wearing three different pairs of shoes during my show: a pair of yellow flats, a pair of red sequined futuristic party shoes with a strap, and low-top Opening Ceremony x Vans limited edition baby pink flats. I had the high-top Vans but someone stole them from me in San Francisco after my show – WACK!
Your style is so experimental and vibrant, is there anything you absolutely won't wear?
I try not to wear anything that has already become super trendy and is on every single teenager in America, though there are always exceptions.
What is the coolest thing you own right now?
My husband gave me a customized bomber as a gift, it has 99¢ embroidered on the front and my dad's initials, "R.A.W," embroidered across the back. I thought that was pretty cool.
What's the last place you shopped?
I shopped Primark in London and today I went to Louboutin for a video shoot.
What are you wearing for tonight's concert?
I usually wear costumes that go with the themes of the music. Tonight it's a "We Buy Gold" dress, a "Step and Repeat" print strapless dress, and a selfie sweatsuit.
What was the best era for fashion in your opinion?
There have been so many great ones I can't pick a favorite. I just like when trends are bold and fun and colorful.
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