Azealia Banks has become somewhat of a style chameleon during her three years in the spotlight. From the sophisticated suits in “Van Vogue” to the seapunk style in “Atlantis” to the matching two-pieces in “ATM Jam,” her clothes have gotten a little more outrageous with each new video.
In her latest, “Heavy Metal And Reflective,” Banks turned to her friend Brad Callahan, the designer behind BCALLA, who has been outfitting Banks on tour for the past few years. The live performance ’fits are often brighter, shorter, and more costume-y than what she rocks in videos, but make Banks a little more showy and a whole lot more fun to watch.
Callahan first started working with Banks when introduced through stylist Contessa Stuto. And though Banks still works with Stuto on looks, Callahan says that a lot of the rapper’s most memorable outfits are often conceptualized by Banks herself.
“[Azealia Banks] is amazing to work with,” says Callahan. “She gives me loose concepts and lots of freedom.” And those ideas can strike at any hour. “One time,” Callahan recalls, “I was at the club at 4:30 a.m., and I got a text that read something like, ‘I have a show in a week—make me a rose cowgirl.’ Or my personal favorite was when she told me, ‘Turn me into a mouse in a tea cup.’”
For “Heavy Metal and Reflective,” directors Rob Soucy and Nick Ace called the vibe “J-Pop Mad Max Flames.” Quite a combo.
Callahan handed over a yellow jumpsuit (initially made for Banks’ “ATM JAM” video!) that looked like something you might see a dude wear while whipping his motorcycle down the drag stripe. Just with more color and some skin-showing shapes. The jumpsuit has “something crazy like 150 pattern pieces,” Callahan remembers. “When my sewer invoiced me, she called it the ‘Too many pieces jumpsuit.’”
The second video look, a flame-covered romper, highlights a trademark of BCALLA design, according to Callahan: “Usually my first question when dealing with a client is, ‘So how much of your ass can I show?’”
With a cutout at the belly and sheer netting surrounding the shining flames, it looks like a few other BCALLA outfits Banks has rocked on tour. Now that you’re looking for ’em, see how many attached gloves and chunky fishnet overlays you spot Banks in. (Spoiler alert: a TON.)
Callahan, who has been designing ever since he “couldn’t get his Barbie’s outfit just right,” says he gets most of his inspiration from anime and comic books, “especially ones with strong female leads” like Witchblade and Lady Death. BCALLA was created based on a customer that is “an attention seeker, a performer.” So, basically, Azealia Banks in a nutshell.
“I love [Banks'] music which helps a lot,” says Callahan. “It’s wonderful to be working on a project you really believe in and I really believe in her.”