Gen V: Charli XCX

Gen V: Charli XCX

GEN V

Gen V: Charli XCX

The singer-songwriter is pulling a fast one on her fans with her rollercoaster ride of a year, and shows no signs of slowing down

The singer-songwriter is pulling a fast one on her fans with her rollercoaster ride of a year, and shows no signs of slowing down

Photography: Richard Burbridge

Styling: Davey Sutton

Styling: Nicola Formichetti

Text: Dania Curvy

This cover story appears in V137, available to order now

2022 is the year of Charli XCX. After the release of her No.1 hit album Crash on Billboard’s U.K. and Australia chartsthe stage has literally been set for the English singer/songwriter to catapult on an evolving and experimental expedition to ultimate stardom. 

“I’m very obsessed with throwing someone off scent,” Charli XCX, born Charlotte Emma Aitchison, explains of her fifth and most recent album. “As soon as people think they have me all figured out, I like to flip the script on them.” And with that, ensued a phantasmic change in style fueled by a: “less is more approach” to maximalism with a vampy vibe and body positivity. “I’ve been enjoying celebrating my body and wearing clothes that emphasis my curves,” she says, owning it all.

Charli wears boots Valentino, Fishnets stylist’s own, Rings David Yurman, Bracelet Raf Simons

Though Charli admits she’s addicted to working, it’s all worth the unreplicable connection with her devoted namesake fanbase, the “angels” to create authentically. While the 29-year-old performer evolves personally and professionally, she learns as the generation of her fanbase evolves too. “From my perspective, it seems that Gen Z are so much more accepting of people from different walks of life, styles, beliefs and seems to be a genuine ability to recognize that all people are unique, and that’s amazing,” she says. 

As for this year, Charli XCX unabashedly admits her workaholism tendencies and comes to terms with her volatile mood swings, but for it, she’s a happier person. “I have found the love of my life, can appreciate that I’ve worked hard for what I have for many many years, and just want to slow down and take it all in.”

Contrast and challenge will always be second nature in the evolution of Charli XCX. As for what’s next? She replies, “Who knows. Obviously, something spectacular. I haven’t worked it out just yet.” Whatever crash landing the pop mogul makes next, one thing is for certain, the public has proven they’re down for the ride.

"Pink tastes like…Candy. Electricity. Hot summer nights. The sweat of a lover. Cuteness. Dancing to an '80s song."

-Charli XCX

Below, discover an extended Q+A with Charli XCX!

 VMAGAZINE: On one of your TikToks, you wrote “you sacrifice your entire personal life to make 5 albums and 4 mixed tapes in like 10 years” and now you’re currently embarked on a massive tour for Crash for the next few months. What does a typical downtime day look like for Charli? Is there anything on your summer bucket list?

 Charli XCX: (Laughs) Downtime–please–are you joking? It’s constant. Do this phoner, listen to this mix, write this song, write this brief, perform on the stage, and do this meeting. But I asked for it. It’s my own fault. And yeah, I’m addicted to work, but sometimes I just want to run away and spend all my money on stupid shit and never be seen or heard from again!

V: What’s the craziest adventure or experience from touring to date?

CX: The whole thing is a trip! Recently, in particular––this is a pretty wholesome experience––but playing my own headline show to 10,000 people in London blew my mind. It’s crazy that all these people showed up for me, to be a part of something together. It was so special. I truly felt in that moment that me and my fans have this unreplicable connection. We built this whole thing together. 

V: You mentioned in a previous interview that your album Crash was meant to challenge yourself and your fans with an alternate authentic vibe and sound than what they’re used to. As a result of such garnered success from both parties, how will incorporating new challenges affect or evolve your music-making in the future?

CX: I think I’m very obsessed and inspired with the idea of contrast and throwing someone off the scent. I think it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s like as soon as people think they have me all figured out, I kind of like to flip the script on them. Maybe it’s why I’m still seen as a sort of fringe-pop artist in a way––never someone right in the middle of the club. I’ve always been an outsider––at school, in music, sort of at parties. I’m in the mix, but I’m not the epicenter because I’m constantly moving too fast and evolving possibly in ways of contradicting myself. But it’s what makes me challenging as an artist and also to myself. I need to change to be inspired. And so I imagine whatever’s next will be contrasting to what’s going on now.

Charli wears shirt Valentino, Rings David Yurman, Bracelet, tights, stylist’s own, On eyes YSL Beauty Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil in #1 Black, On lips YSL Beauty Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in #85 Nu Fatal

V: What can fans expect?

CX: Who knows. Obviously something spectacular. I haven’t worked it out just yet. 

V: We know you’re a fan of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things and for your special performance "Live From The Upside Down" virtual concert, you perform and shot in a recreation of the upside-down. Do you believe in an alternate universe containing ethereal beings that exist other than our own? Have you ever come into contact or experienced anything otherworldly that you couldn't explain? 

CX: I felt like I saw a few ghosts when I was younger. I try not to toy too much with other realms. I already struggle with being in the present as it is. 

V: What is the most profound discovery you've made about yourself this past year?

CX: That my mood is volatile and can switch in a second… although I’ve known this for a while, I’ve really seen it in action this year. Also that I need more time to myself. I used to just want to go-go-go all the time, and I’ve kind of built this infrastructure and ethos around me where that’s encouraged. And it’s great! But now that I’m happier as a person, and have found the love of my life, can appreciate that I’ve worked hard for what I have for many many years, I kinda just wanna slow down and take it all in. So yeah, that’s what I’ve learned about myself. I need space and time. 

V: Can you describe the evolution of your personal style as of recently? What are your go-to methods for inspiration? 

CX: I feel like I’m such a maximalist that I’m always trying to go for the less is more approach…but my less is more is still probably hectic for some people. I’ve gotten really into a more vampy-vibe recently. I’m enjoying celebrating my body and wearing clothes that emphasize my curves. 

V: What are some pieces on your rotation that you’re obsessed with?

CX: I have these amazing Helmut Lang boots [that] I’m obsessed with, and I wear with everything. One of the zippers on one of the boots is broken, and I don’t have time to fix it, so I have to use a hairpin. Once I’m in them they’re impossible to get out. I also got this Proenza Schouler coat [recently] which is one of my: “If my house was burning what would you grab” items. It’s amazing.  

V: As a millennial, with a growing fanbase of the Gen Z generation, what things have you learned and noticed from a cultural standpoint: on the evolution of attitude, social norms, and style? 

CX: It’s interesting. From my perspective, it seems that Gen Z is so much more accepting of people from different walks of life, different styles, and different beliefs, which is really amazing. There seems to be a genuine ability to recognize that all people are unique. On the flip side, I think political correctness has been so drilled into people via the internet and [with] the fear of cancel culture, sometimes there is a lack of empathy or desire to forgive someone for a mistake they make. Either out of the fear to be seen as being on “the right side of the argument” or of having a loud voice on the internet—which sometimes I think people deem as a really important way of validating themselves. I think there are pros and cons to every generation. What’s important is that we all learn from each other and also just live the best life we all can with the time we’ve got. 

V: We know you have love for Julia Fox, and would love to incorporate her in your music video for “Yuck”? What appeals to you about her? Are there any other muses or people you’re intrigued or inspired by lately? Why?

CX: I just think Julia (Fox) gets it. I don’t know her so I’m talking from a fan perspective, here. I just think she’s fucking smart. She gives us what we want. She works the paparazzi like Paris Hilton did in the 2000s. She gives us viral quotes. She’s funny. I just think she’s truly seizing the moment with no fear, and I love it for her. I think she’s brilliant and she’s an amazing actress too, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. And as for muses—I don’t need any. I’m my own muse.

This cover story appears in V137, available to order now

Credits:

Fashion Direction Nicola Formichetti and  Hunter Clem, Hair (Iris, Kid, Malika) Nikki Nelms (Jess Moloney MGMT) for Maui Moisture, Hair (Shygirl, Sky) Nikki Nelms (Jess Moloney MGMT) for RED by Kiss, Hair (Charli, Eartheater, Rina) Nikki Nelms (Jess Moloney MGMT) for Goody Hair, Hair (Evan) Ashley Stewart, Makeup Raisa Flowers (EDMA), Manicure (Iris, Shygirl, Evan, Sky) Leanne Woodley, Manicure (Charli, Kid, Malika, Rina, Eartheater) Jin Soon Choi (Home Agency), Digital technician Nick Barr, Photo assistants Peter Siskos, Jesse Allan, Stylist Assistant Emma V. Oleck, Makeup assistant Eunice Kristen, Hair assistants Ashley Stewart, Trisha Johnson

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