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New Style Icon: Azealia Banks

by Hollie Moat

Banks in the Liquorice video

Azealia Banks may be a rapper, but no amount of words could have said what the image of her on the set of her video for Liquorice, clad in a halter top and hotpants that depicted the stars and stripes, styled by Gaga favourite Nicola Formicetti and directed by Rankin – America’s latest burgeoning superstar is also the new musical favourite of the high fashion set.
Harlem-born Banks attended New York’s famous ‘Fame’ school, before turning her full attention to music and finding attention via a series of YouTube videos. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, she unexpectedly topped the NME 2011 ‘Cool’ list, and justified it with the release of her debut single 212, which successfully straddled garage, rap and dance and featured her swearing profusely and singing beautifully.

Banks in the 212 video

That was late last year, and Banks’ taut tunes and gloriously unaffected soundbites (like this one ‘People say “You just got famous on YouTube” I’m like “So? You didn’t famous anywhere”.’) endeared her to the world’s press, particularly the more stylish titles, such as Elle US who put her in a custom-made Boadicea Claridge Mickey Mouse dress for their Women In Music issue.

Banks with Rachel Zoe and Alexander Wang (who made her dress) at the 2012 Met Ball

As far as Banks can see, the two art forms go together pretty seamlessly, ‘212 is arrogant’ she has said, ‘Fashion is arrogant. Selling beauty means convincing people that you have something they want’.
And as for her own style? Well, visually Banks veers between Rihanna style ‘sexy with an edge’ and a sort of mix of Nicky Minaj and Ke$ha, though she’d probably smack you in the face for suggesting so. But she does mix together their respective outlandishness and down-town aesthetic, though without half the ridiculousness of Minaj and the grubbiness of Ke$ha.

Banks performing at Coachella this year

Teeny-tiny shorts and cropped tops in bold prints, along with retro tees, some splashes of P.V.C and a few wild hairpieces form the basis of her wardrobe (in the public eye at least) but Banks proved she could hold her own with the big style hitters when she attended the Met Ball clad in a racy, cut-out black glossy leather dress, designed for her by American designer Alexander Wang, her date for the evening. She was even given the official Anna Wintour seal of approval by being asked to perform at the event, though what the famously icy Vogue editor made of Banks’ glorious potty mouth is anyone’s guess.

Banks on the cover of her 1991 EP

Since then Banks has worked with super-producer Paul Epworth on some tracks, been a fixture at London Fashion Week and provided the sound-track to one of the Mugler runway shows. Her 1991 EP was released in late May and we can expect mixtape Fantasea in the next week or so.
Fashion-inclined female music stars are pretty common these days it’s true, but there will always be room for Azealia Banks and her wacky, ghetto style,  with enough good looks and rap credentials to pull it off in spades.


Banks' Liquorice video (explicit lyrics)
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