Janelle Monae, Esperanza Spalding, Kanye West and M.I.A. all appear in W Magazine’s latest issue, the Music & Style issue. Proving that the love affair between fashion and music has never been hotter, photographer Max Vadukul captures 10 designers and the musicians who inspire them most.
Meet the pairs of “Behind the Muses”:
Kanye West & Rodarte
Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy first met West at one of their runway shows a few years ago, but it was his performance at Coachella this past April that made a lasting impression on the sisters. “It’s one of the most incredible shows you’ll ever see,” says Kate (above, right). “I think it’s because he’s such a visual artist as well.” Since he stepped up to the mic with his 2004 debut The College Dropout, the 34-year-old rapper and producer’s nonstop musical evolution has continued apace with his interest in all things aesthetic: from art and design to his devotion to fashion—usually the latest looks, remixed with characteristic hip-hop bravura. “That mixing of art forms and genres,” says Laura, “that’s something I respond to.”
Esperanza Spalding & Francisco Costa
Spalding, the 26-year-old American jazz bassist and singer who outraged Justin Bieber fans by winning the best new artist award at this year’s Grammys, puts an outfit together much the way she does her music. “I make little compositions,” she explains. Lately her look has assumed what she describes as a “quirky, pseudo-intellectual” vibe, pieced together with fitted jackets and ties accessorized with a wild afro. But she can just as easily swing in an elegantly minimalist direction, and it is that element of spontaneity, mixed with soulfulness, that has made a fan of Calvin Klein’s Costa. “I admire her passion and confidence— she is truly a free spirit,” he says. Her ability to speak Costa’s native tongue has only added to his affection: “My favorite part of the shoot was singing together in Portuguese.”
Janelle Monae & Karl Lagerfeld
Monáe’s music may be a baroque blend of funk, soul, jazz, orchestral symphonies, and psychedelic rock, but when it comes to her wardrobe, the Atlanta-based artist likes to keep it simple: black and white tuxedos paired with a pompadour. “It’s transcendent—it never goes out of style,” she explains, adding that she prefers for the color to come out in her performance. And to see her standing beside Lagerfeld, the two of them dressed like twins in their signature starched suits, it is clear she has found a kindred spirit. “We liked each other from the first second on,” says the designer. “Not just because of our style, but also the name: Janelle rhymes with Chanel, no?”
Donatella Versace & M.I.A.
It was M.I.A.’s 2007 “Paper Planes” video—with the British firebrand dancing around Brooklyn in an African-print jumpsuit and tiger-striped high-tops—that first caught Versace’s attention. “Her music and style seemed so fresh and innovative,” recalls the designer. Although M.I.A. burst onto the scene in 2005 with her globe-trotting beats and rebel politics, equally striking was her hyper-colored, multiculti look. Before the shoot for this portrait, for instance, the 36-year-old singer—who once cited Libyan President Moammar Qaddafi as a fashion icon (“I’d love to raid his wardrobe,” she noted)—insisted on two-tone lips and floral nail art, and wanted the tips of her platinum locks dyed a vivid coral. As Versace puts it: “She is a total artist.”
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