With her melting-pot music and a personal style that manages to marry a Victorian tailcoat with Masai jewelry, no one defies convention like singer and rapper Erykah Badu. “Dressing,” she believes, “is an everyday art. Be honest, be fearless.” Riccardo Tisci, who featured the fashion rebel in a recent Givenchy campaign, is a superfan—and so are we. In InStyle’s September issue, she puts her spin—textured layers, strong proportions, and brazen accessories—on fall’s standout whites.
Badu is that rare breed of entertainer: a critic’s darling whose art speaks to the masses. In 1997, when she released her debut album, a hip-hop, jazz, and soul-infused opus titled Baduizm, it went triple-platinum. Not only was the Dallas native credited with pioneering a musical genre—neo-soul—but she was hailed as the second coming of Billie Holiday. Along with her unique sound, the singer is famed for her self-titled “hobo chic” style: ten-gallon hats over Nefertiti head wraps, thrift-store finds interlaced with couture, and myriad jewelry. “When it comes to crazy dressing, I’m still the leader of the pack,” Badu says. Her seventh album, due out in late fall, should only widen the gap between the cookie-cutter R&B singers out there and neo-soul’s first lady.
Watch Erykah Badu’s behind-the-scenes video featuring her hit song “Window Seat” above, and check out her full feature in InStyle’s September issue, available on newsstands and for digital download now.