Marie Claire June 2012, Photography by Tesh
The Florence + the Machine singer has a taste for theatrical maximalism that's bewitched both music and fashion lovers alike. In a showstopping melange of bronze, brass, and brocade, the otherworldly beauty casts a spell.
"I feel about 90 percent less insane." On the phone from London, Florence Welch's voice has none of the soul-shaking verve you'd expect from the front woman of Florence + the Machine. Home from the European leg of her Ceremonials world tour, she's had an hour to relax before heading to rehearsals for her next gig. The following night, she'll close the Teenage Cancer Trust concert series at Royal Albert Hall with an epic orchestra-backed performance live-streamed across the globe
Ever since "Dog Days Are Over" owned the charts in 2010, Welch has reigned as fashion's favorite chanteuse. She's been front row at Givenchy, Valentino, and Chanel. At this point, she's old pals with Karl Lagerfeld—who asked the 25-year-old to close Chanel's spring 2012 show by singing in a giant oyster shell. "I ended up scrapbooking with Karl!" she laughs, recalling a later photoshoot with Lagerfeld. "We were discussing Art Deco painters, and suddenly he started ripping things out of books in his library and sticking things together with Pritt Stick glue."
Between the fiery red mop ("I'm a lifer now—I've tried going back to brown, but I don't recognize myself") and her assertion that she looks strange in casual clothes ("My face isn't right for them"), Welch is like catnip to designers. The wardrobe for her last U.S. summer tour was created by none other than Frida Giannini for Gucci. But Welch brings her own dramatic flair to the stunning pieces. "I've got a teenager's sense of romanticism," she says. "Like when you're 15 and you think, Oh, I could just die!" The feeling is contagious. When Welch's soaring vocals meet her floor-sweeping gowns, we all brace for impact.
"I'm completely in love with the world but also terrified of it. It creates some overwhelming feelings. Wanting to battle out that joy and fear is part of my music."
"In the beginning I was a lot younger, drunker, and more glib. I've learned not to hide behind a veil of irony—to talk about my work in a more honest way."