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Given Frankie Rose’s decade-spanning career at the heart of Brooklyn’s fuzz-pop scene -- she was a member of the Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, and Dum Dum Girls -- it’s difficult to imagine her personal style is any less eclectic than her résumé. Bolo ties, crushed velvet frocks, various-sized black hats, pitch-dark eyelet, men’s flannel button downs, and other vintage gems she’s unearthed while shopping on tour are among the items hanging at the forefront of her wardrobe. Rose’s retro flair isn’t just for clothing; she hops between entire decades, too, in her self-titled solo project.
“If I like it, I’ll try to absorb it -- with the music and clothes that I wear,” she told Hive before her Chicago show at Pancho’s. Teetering across the stage in a black cardigan with a fringe hem, a felt Western hat, snug waxed jeans, and lace-up boots with a pointed toe, Rose is now fully embracing the ‘80s as a moodboard for her style -- and the sound of her solo sophomore album Interstellar. Her debut, Frankie Rose and the Outs, however, was a brash take on ‘60s garage rock, with the homage extending to Rose wearing a pin-up romper in her promo photos. While Interstellar still has a few nods to the ‘60s (Link Wray-inspired guitar solos to name one), Rose now has a sleeker sound and onstage style; a dark, romantic minimalism informs both. Hive spoke with Rose about her allegiance to the color black, the essentials she packs for tour, and filtering her influences through her own eccentricities.
The lesson she’s learned this tour:
I'Il pretty much just wear pajamas in the van and put on nicer clothes when we get closer to showtime. So, next time, I’ll take half as much stuff and maybe have three really great show outfits and wash them -- or not, if I have enough perfume to cover up the smell.
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On her Raiders Starter jacket:
I had been wanting one forever and the vintage ones are kind of expensive but I finally bit the bullet the last time I was in San Francisco. I have strange Oakland pride: I don’t go to games. I’m not a football person. But I lived there during my formative years and like the insignia.
On sticking to dark colors:
Most of my clothing is black. If I buy something that has color, I’ll almost never wear it. Black is New York; everyone there wears it. It’s classic and low maintenance and you can look nice more easily in it.
On how her style has evolved over the years:
I’ve always loved a little black hat but I’ve definitely become more tailored. When I was 18, I wore black Converses and, now, I wear witchy boots. I like things that fit more angularly instead of flowy, like buttoned-up collars, short collars, and small colors. I love fringe and I like anything that’s Western goth and reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” video. I like to make dramatic choices with my style, for sure.
On her penchant for John Hughes-era styles:
I definitely think the ‘80s have been relevant in fashion this year. It’s been the way people are cutting things, especially with the short collars. I’ve noticed bolo ties on lots of girls and sometimes I’ll wear a bolo tie. You could get away with all kinds of ridiculous things in the ‘80s. I look up to Duckie from Pretty in Pink. I would love to those beat up white Creepers shoes that he wore. I think I’ve been looking for them in my size my entire life.
The one sentimental item that she travels with:
My guitar is irreplaceable. It’s the same guitar I’ve always had; it was a big moment when I could afford to buy it. I bought from my ex-neighbor with the first royalty check that I got. He had a bunch of guitars and I’d borrow it for four or five days at a time and then finally got the money to buy it. It’s a ‘64 Fender Mustang, which is an amazing guitar.
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The essentials in her bag:
Lifesavers for me are [a] scent like lavender oil because you never know when something or someone might smell bad. Honestly, there’s nothing sexy about touring. In my bag I keep lots of devices that I don’t use like an iPad and a Kindle, headphones, moisturizer because I try to clean my skin a lot, giant glasses for when I take off my contacts, Afrin, a Chromatics CD they gave me at my show in Portland, an inhaler -- see this is not sexy at all -- a silver Sharpie, and red lipstick; that’s fun. I have lots different wallets for different purposes: a band wallet, personal wallet. I have to keep everything in separate bags.
The charm of her personal wallet:
I found it after a party and it was empty because someone had likely stolen it but, then, I walked into this Japanese lady’s vintage store to pay for something and she was like, ‘Oh you have a yellow, snakeskin wallet. That’s good luck. It will keep bringing you money.’ Ever since I found this wallet, I’ve been able to not have a job. Even though this wallet will totally become destroyed one day, I will never get another, ever.
On taking cues from Grass Widow’s Hannah Lew and the time they were in a band together:
Hannah Lew from Grass Widow has amazing style. I met Hannah at 18, at a prison abolitionist conference in New York, when I used to do activist stuff. We were in a band together called Shit Storm. My first tour was with them but it was punk touring, where we slept in a ditch and played DIY venues with the Bananas and all of those Planet X bands. We crossed paths with Mika Miko a few times. We also had a boy in our band. Shitstorm was never about being girls or boys – especially in San Francisco, where it’s more about just being a freak!
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On transcending gender in indie rock today:
Why gender is such a big deal in music right now is really interesting to me. It’s an easy narrative, especially when the band is all women, and it’s a really easy narrative to compare female-fronted bands even [if] they make totally different music. You don’t hear music journalists comparing all-male bands; that’s not even a term, but it should be.
I think it’s changing though, within the last year with Grimes, Julia Holter, Annie Clark [St. Vincent], and the band Friends. It seems like there’s so many women being like, “Fuck you. We’re awesome and making better music than any guys right now.”