by Dana Gornitzki
If you haven’t heard of Gabby Young, there is little doubt you will soon. Gabby is the lead singer of her own band Gabby Young and Other Animals; she describes her music as ‘circus swing’ and her style seems to fit the description perfectly too. With a voice as smooth as velvet and an unforgettable stage presence, it’s no wonder the Guardian has named Gabby Young as an act to watch out for.
This young virtuoso is not only a multi-talented musician, but a true gentlelady to boot with poise and panache - she has heads turning with her delicate frame, striking red tresses, and distinctive look. Gabby is a fiery spirit who overcame thyroid cancer at the tender age of 22 and reinvented herself bursting into the music scene on her own terms.
A regular at festivals and touring the world, the rising star took time out to speak with MIEN Magazine about her original style, playing dress-up and her old-fashioned penchant for good manners.
MIEN Magazine (MM): You have a unique style; what and who inspires your clothing?
Gabby Young (GY): I have never made a conscious decision to wear something- if it excites me and looks unique then I want to wear it. Deconstructed and upcycled clothes inspire me. I love to wear clothes that used to be something else, especially if it once was a pile of newspaper and crisp packets. I also love to dress in something that has history and its own story so vintage style is something I am always on the hunt for.
MM: Who are your style icons?
GY: From the moment I saw Bjork in that ‘swan dress’ I knew how I wanted to be - visually, as a musician, theatrical and original. I also love Vivienne Westwood for all that she is as a stylish woman and an amazing fashion designer.
MM: You make a real statement with your whimsical hair and makeup - what influences your look?
GY: I like my stage outfits to be very theatrical so I usually try and do something really eye-catching with my hair and make-up. For big shows, I’m lucky enough to work with a great make-up artist - Jennifer Nash - who has created some amazing looks for me and brought to life crazy ideas I’ve had. For example, I recently performed on a boat and wanted my make-up to look like that famous Japanese picture of a wave, which she managed. For that gig, I also wore a starfish in my hair. I’m always collecting odds and ends to wear as hairpieces - from dollshouse furniture to a teacup I used for an Alice in Wonderland-themed shoot. There’s often an underlying element of vintage style too as I love Victorian-era up-do’s and 50’s black flick eyeliner - just always with a twist!
MM: Do you have any favourite designers?
GY: I love discovering and supporting new designers. Most recently, I’ve been working with Kumiko Tani who makes amazing pieces out of newspaper- she created a piece especially for my recent performance in Tokyo, Japan. Inbar Spector is another of my favourites; her creations are the perfect mix of vintage style with modern materials and shapes. I’ll be wearing a really incredible dress by Inbar at my next concert; it’s so big I can barely sit down in it!
Volume, colour and texture are three things I look for in good performance pieces. These days, I’m really lucky as sometimes people just decide to make me things and send them to me. I recently wore a stunning upcycled vintage dress from CorinaCorina- I’ve only met the shop founder Ella via Twitter, but she customises vintage pieces for people and so had something made to suit me. Rosa Bloom is another wonderful designer we stock in Gabberdashery; she tours the festivals with her boutique every summer, full of silk bustles, bloomers, jewellery, lace gloves and feathered headbands. I’m also a big fan of Lee Klabin whose dresses are beautifully structured, with corset-like bodices. I wore one of her dresses for my last music video and absolutely loved it!
GY: I look out for things that stimulate me and that I would wear, use, give to a loved one or hang on my wall- everything in Gabberdashery is very ‘me’ and basically looks like my bedroom when it is all set up. Friends and family have introduced me to new people for the boutique and even my sister makes things for us so it’s a big, wonderful collaboration that I feel honoured to be leading. One thing that is important to me with all of our designers is to keep it affordable so anyone can own it – I understand that the designers and artists work long hours on the craft and I want them all to feel valued but its crucial to not alienate people with less spending money – there really is something for everyone and I’m keen to get more stuff for men and kids on board too.
MM: Because MIEN is dedicated to etiquette and style, we have to ask: do you have any pet peeves when it comes to manners? And how about favourite social graces?
GY: I am all about manners. I’m pretty old-fashioned and a teetotaller so I like to have a degree of professionalism; I expect that from everyone I work with too- but now I sound boring and I’m not, although maybe a workaholic! My favourite social grace has to be politeness of shop keepers or waiters. In Japan, they all treated everyone in their shop or restaurant like a king (or queen) and I love that there. There will always be part of me that wishes I was around in Edwardian times - mainly so I can wear those clothes!
Gabby Young performs at the Tabernacle (Powis Square, London W11 2AY) in London this Saturday, November 20th (£12 in advance, £14 at the door)
For more information, take a peek and listen to a ditty or two: http://gabbyyoungandotheranimals.com/
And for more about Gabby Young’s style: http://gabbyyoungstyle.blogspot.com/
Cover photo by Saul