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Things I Have Learned

Bat For Lashes' Natasha Khan On Finding Her Style
Luke Turner , April 7th, 2009 05:42

Natasha Khan tells Luke Turner her fashion dictact, what gentlemen should be sporting this season, and how divine intervention can help a shopping trip

You can discover style by accident

I think for the very first album it was more my excitement at being let loose and free to be creative, and picking things out of the dressing up box, and swapping and changing things around that didn't necessarily fit together. I'd always had a love, more intellectually, of Native American folklore and I really liked strange photographers like Diane Arbus and all the beautiful drag queens of New York, and I really loved Nick Cave and his gothic dark things. I had a lot of love and obsessions I guess. When it came to people wanting to do press pictures early on I really delved into my inspirations and just picked out things that spoke to me in quite a spontaneous way. I feel like that's carried on, really. I've really developed my understanding of what I like to wear, and I've got more comfortable in my fashion and knowing what I like and don't like.

Accessories are everything to me

I think they're really important, especially if you're feeling you don't want to wear a massively smart thing, or a complicated dress or whatever, I quite like dressing down but I'll always accessorise with lots of jewellery, or strange kind of shoulder pieces or arm bands or things that I pick up. There are just lots of adornments that I can mix and match with, I like doing that.

I've always liked bands that have a more theatrical edge

I think innately the type of music that I'm attracted to means that the people who make it have this element of style or a real look about them, because they've got a real character and personality, or are naturally iconic.

People who think that dressing up means you're not authentic can shove it up their arse

There's so much weird politics and regulation about what's cool or authentic. And to me what's always been cool is not giving a shit what people think, that's the epitome of cool. If you have to dress a certain way to be cool or taken seriously then you're not being true to yourself, and that's quite sad really isn't it? I don't put any demands on anyone else, and I don't think anyone else should do the same.

Kurt Cobain was my pin up

When I was growing up he was my hero. I loved him and I loved the music, and I thought he was so cool because he wore ripped jeans and t-shirts and didn't care. I still think he's the coolest thing ever, but that's not so much my style. I like wearing ripped jeans, but I'll wear necklaces and feather things as well.

I've always liked aggressive visions of femininity

When I was a teenager I really liked Courtney Love's babydoll vintage phase. I like drag queens, or Patricia Arquette in Lost Highway. PJ Harvey was amazing in some of her get-ups, like that pink catsuit at Glastonbury. It was fairly disconcerting, because it was sexy in a weird way. That's a lot more interesting to me than the Britney Spears school of boobs and short skirts. I feel like women can be sexy in a powerful and unusual way, it doesn't have to be obvious.

Stylists always want me to do things that I consider to be a bit naff

When you come into stylists, they often have a very specific agenda and sometimes it doesn't really speak to me in any way. If they want that, they should get a model in rather than a musician. If you want someone to comply with your idea of style, then that's not really celebrating the individual. It happens less and less now, which is good. I think people trust my style and what I like to wear.

I have an aversion to glowsticky neon clothes

Not that I don't like them on other people, but they just don't suit me. I think my skin tone is a bit greeny and it makes me look like a slightly unwell lizard. I wouldn't go for the old latex bright green hot pants.

I'm a lover of beards

Not long ones, but I think facial hair is quite Viking-like and masculine. I like that. I like hair on men, i think that's quite hot. I was looking at Bruce Springsteen when he started out, I thought he was quite fit. I liked his rolled up shirt sleeves and jeans, the dirty, rugged messy look. Or Johnny Cash or Nick Cave. Don yourself in a black suit and hopefully have blue eyes and black hair and I'm yours.

Women are most attractive when they're feeling confident from within

I know it sounds cheesy. It's about knowing what you can and can't wear, and sticking to what you look good in and feeling confident about that. So many people worry about that, especially women worry about their body image and looking like somebody else tells them to, and I think just following your instincts about how you feel most comfortable and beautiful and bugger what anyone else says. I think it's really important not to care.

Divine guidance is my shopping tactic

Sometimes I have an obsession of something that I really want, and I send out a little prayer on the wind and hope that I find the thing that I'm looking for, and usually it turns up.

It's harder for men to find interesting clothes

But if you've got the inclination to be a little bit creative and customise second hand clothes you can do alright. But you can get wartime sort-of clothes; high-waisted trousers, brogues and nice hats. I like old fashion more than current stuff for men. I've noticed that the younger generation in Brighton are starting to look quite smart. Everyone looks like a poet or a writer, and I find that really sexy.

I can be found going for a pint of milk in my pyjamas

When I go to Waitrose I don't wear make-up or anything. I just go into town in my trainers, I'm not going to start worrying about that. I think the more you treat yourself as different, the more isolated you feel and I don't think that's very healthy. I just want to be able to live my normal life. I've seen Nick Cave around, and he does tend to be quite smartly dressed, but I have seen him in quite dress-down casual stuff, t-shirt and jeans I think maybe. He's not always the dark lord, and I'm not always the mystical, feather-wearing goddess.