Kelsey Lu Stars In New Coach Rogue Campaign
V talked to the artist to find out more about their style, inspirations, and what we can expect to find inside their Rogue bag.
If we had to pick only one word to describe Kelsey Lu (very hard to pick just one, to be honest), it would probably have to be “experimental.” The classically trained cellist and singer-songwriter defies every genre limit with their work, which includes an EP fully recorded at a Brooklyn church and, most recently, a “meditational sound bath” series of long-form nature sounds titled Hydroharmonia. And that experimentation isn’t just limited to music: it also spills to visual arts and, most notably, fashion. In fact, the musician says, they are all connected.
“I love to say ‘fabrics of sound,’” Lu says, “because as a musician you are threading together so many pieces to make it all fit.”
Their unique, fearless creativity when it comes to sounds and looks made Lu the perfect star for Coach’s most recent campaign: the label is reintroducing the Rogue, a bag that is inspired by free spirits, rebels, and dreamers. Joining the musician are Jennifer Lopez, Kate Moss, Kōki, Ma Zhe, and Xiao Wen Ju, who all brought a bit of their iconic personalities to the project, with photography by Juergen Teller and styling by Olivier Rizzo.
The Rogue was first introduced on the runway in 2016 and is returning as part of Coach’s Fall collection, “Coach Forever, Season Two.” The model comes in a new environmentally responsible version of the label’s signature jacquard, crafted in organic and recycled materials with embroidered motifs of the collection, including pink elephants and yellow ducks.
In September, Coach creative director Stuart Vevers will be awarded at the Accessories Council’s Hall of Fame for the standing legacy and craft of the Rogue. The label will also celebrate the reintroduction of the model with a shoppable digital experience that will allow customers to design and share their own Rogue bag. New versions of the Rogue are already available on Coach.com.
V connected with Lu to learn more about their latest partnership with Coach, discuss inspirations and how fashion has helped the musician build their unique identity:
Your music is uniquely experimental — what have been some of your biggest inspirations lately? What can we expect to see in your upcoming work?
Lately, I’ve been finding inspiration in the nature and tension of eroticism as well as its relationship within nature itself. There’s the act of sex but eroticism is alluring to it without being it. It’s not even necessarily that I want to talk about sex lyrically direct, but I am interested in exploring what sounds could move you to feel the heat and longing of eroticism without ever touching the flame, and Soul music really grasped that feeling, especially within the string arrangements.
What is the connection between music and fashion for you?
It’s all a form of creativity right, I mean, with fashion you are inspired by something that you want to emulate through fabric that speaks many different languages, it folds in different ways, it interacts with its environment in different ways. In a way, fabric could be an instrument and the designer its conductor, its composer, its producer, its songwriter.
Whenever I’m working with a designer, like with Luke and Lucie Myers (Jil Sander) I love to ask them what the collection is about and imagine what that subject could possibly sound like musically and find ways to incorporate that into the fabrics of the sound. I love to say “fabrics of sound” because as a musician you are threading together so many pieces to make it all fit.
How would you describe your style and how would you say it has evolved over the years?
I’d describe my style as a rolling stone and its evolution being a reflection of that. I was a vintage clothing-store-thrift-shop-bin-shopping maniac back in the day when I had the time, and I’d love finding unique flashy bright colorful pieces that probably no one else would wear and through that, I was listening to what fell in tune to me, not to what was trendy or fashionable per se. While I was doing that, I was also finding my identity beyond what was constructed for me in my childhood. There are no bounds to what I can and want to wear, I have the ability to wear anything because no matter what, I’m embodying myself through the clothing but that doesn’t mean I’ll wear anything.
Would you say you’ve been able to further explore and channel your identity through your music and fashion? What was that process like?
Absolutely. They run hand in hand for me because they both share a deep sense of creative expression. A song I write could move me to feel really sexy and when I go to perform it, find myself embodying that satisfaction. Same as if I’m wearing thong kitten heels that cause me to move my hips in a way that my sneakers just don’t. Depending on what instrument I’m crafting, what beat I’m writing to, I’m interacting with it differently just as I would be interacting with clothing differently. They bring out different parts of yourself and I find that exploration to be really, really fun.
How did you first connect with Stuart Ververs and Coach?
I first connected with Stuart during the “Coach Forever” Campaign. It actually felt very fateful because we shot it inside Juergen’s studio, which upon arrival I realized was on the same block as my music studio I had just moved into. Although we didn’t meet in person since things were still very much virtual, his energy through the screen was very warm and welcoming.
Coach was a brand that I grew up with, with very specific memories tied to the brand. I remember the overwhelming excitement my mom felt when she found a brand new Coach leather bag at a thrift store when I was a kid. She kept and used that bag for most of my childhood, watching the leather’s color transform with time while staying intact, exemplifying its craft and durability. I remember when I saved money from babysitting to buy my first pair of Coach logo heels, wearing them to school basically every day.
What was the most exciting part about working with Coach for the Rogue campaign?
The location was my favorite part, it was at a beautifully constructed modernist home in the hills of Southern France. A place where artists such as Dalí, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, and many others would experiment with their art and also just party.
What do you typically carry in your bag? Is there anything that would be unusual to most people?
I always carry at least one crystal. Yes, I’m that bitch. A pen, a pocket-sized notebook for writing or sketching. I’d say probably something that most people wouldn’t carry around with them would be floral essence potions. I like to take drops throughout the day to ground me or lift me into other places depending on my mood especially in social situations when I’m feeling like I need emotional support. Nature is always reliable!