Janelle Monáe in the November 2011 issue of “Essence.”
Photo: Kwaku Alston
An arbiter of the finest in black and white mix-n-match style, Janelle Monáe slays menswear better than the boys and always does so with panache. A favorite here at MTV Style, we’ve watched Miss M’s rapid ascent from word-of-mouth performer to bonafide style icon and Grammy-nominated singer. Quite simply, she’s a FORCE and has single-handedly ignited trends such as menswear, lady tuxedos (luxedos?), neckties, and oxford shoes courtesy of the black and white striped Esquivel ones she wears in her “Tightrope” video. But in the November issue of Essence magazine, she changes her look up (almost) entirely in a “Janelle, My Belle” photo spread that features—GASP!!!—ladylike ensembles of the black and white variety, of course.
Looking lovely in her signature pompadour/Mohawk hairdo (ADOOORE) and red lips, Monáe pairs a crisp, white button-up shirt (a gentle nod to menswear) with a full 1950s black skirt and black bow flats, and tips it all out in diamonds atop her ears and waist. We’re big fans of Janelle’s attention to accessories, and we hope with this single image that she brings perspex canes and faux fur muffs into the style vernacular for fall. The entire spread features Janelle decked out in 1940s and ’50s elegance, and we find the change both refreshing and bold.
Even though she never adds any color to her wardrobe, we—like all of her beloved fans, including Karl Lagerfeld, who posed with her in a past issue of W magazine—respect and enjoy her monochromatic regime. She tells Essence, “When I put on a tux or wear black and white, I feel closer to the people…it’s my uniform, a way to celebrate the working-class people I grew up with. I want to represent that.” But does this new spread mean that more (black and white) skirts, dresses, and even gowns could be in her fashion future? We’ll have to wait and see…