Kacey Musgraves made this past decade a time of transformation: She released her first album, Same Trailer Different Park, in 2013, and her latest album, Golden Hour, in 2018, bookending the decade, and tying the albums together with lyrics about LGBTQ+ acceptance, recreational drug use, and casual sex. Though Musgraves has always been a progressive country star, the 2010s showed the Grammy Award-winning singer truly coming into her own with a new sound and style.
When you listen to Golden Hour — a dreamy concoction of country, pop, folk, and disco elements — and then look at Kacey Musgraves, it clicks. This is thanks to her “glam fam,” which consists of stylist Erica Cloud, hairstylist Giovanni Delgado, and makeup artist Moani Lee. Cloud — who also styles Awkwafina, D'arcy Carden, and Zooey Deschanel — was specifically brought on by Musgraves’s manager, Jason Owen, to help the “High Horse” crooner enter the next phase of her career. “[I started styling Kacey] about two years ago,” Cloud tells Teen Vogue. “Jason thought that [Kacey and I] would be a good match because she was changing directions.”
Before becoming the curator of Musgraves’s wardrobe, Cloud worked in retail, event planning, and production, which is where she met stylist Karla Welch. Cloud then worked for Welch, until three years ago, when she decided to branch off on her own. “I didn’t know so many things existed in this field when I was younger, so I learned to work hard,” Cloud explains. That hard work led her to Musgraves, whose iconography features sparkle, modern silhouettes, and vintage pieces, but does not come off as costume-y or stereotypical. It sends the message that she is a modern country star in her own right. This evolution has even garnered itself a “Kacey Musgraves: All of the Colors” exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, on display until June.
To explore what goes into crafting Kacey Musgraves’s image as a new kind of country star, we spoke with Cloud about the songwriter’s most iconic looks and the stories behind them.
Teen Vogue: When it came to Kacey changing directions, how did you translate that into her wardrobe?
Erica Cloud: She and I had a long conversation about aesthetic. We both love a lot of '60s and '70s inspiration, because it runs that fine line of seeming modern but also is very much a specific decade or two. A lot of things are rooted in the past, and the great part about Kacey is that she too is both of those things: She’s modern and progressive, but there are hints of nostalgia and that seem familiar about her.
TV: It shows the power of fashion, how it can completely transform a career.
EC: One hundred percent. With her album, it was a different type of sound. It was a different association with her, and I think it’s very inclusive for most people…. [When styling Kacey for performances], a lot of the time we discuss what song it’s for, because that leads to tone. And what the setting is — the stage display, the elements involved — since that can factor into your performance look.
For the red carpet, we try not to do the same thing twice. I mean, we’ve done a ton of jumpsuits, so I will say that is something that’s universal — it’s old school, current, and flattering. But for her red carpet moments, they do have a lot of thought behind them. For instance, her Grammys carpet look — I felt like the fanning of the tulle on the front of the Valentino couture dress reminded me of the fan on her album cover. Then, the red one she wore for her acceptance, also from Valentino, it seemed very Priscilla Presley. She had done a performance with Dolly Parton, so the hairstyle was in that vein too.
For the Oscars, she had just won all of her Grammys, so why not go big or go home? …You don’t necessarily have to think about whether this is appropriate because she wasn’t nominated for something at the Oscars. She was an attendee, but also she was having her moment. So we said, “Let’s have a frothy, pretty, fun [moment].” Giambattista Valli couture was perfect for that.
TV: How does that differ from what she wore before you were her stylist? Was it more traditional country then?
EC: It was playful in a tongue-in-cheek type of way, and those albums are really fun if you go back and listen to them. It was a different kind of vibe, and then she was like, “Okay, I’m ready for the next stage.” It feels a little more elevated [now], in the way that she’s maturing, so hopefully her fashion is too.
TV: Do either of you have specific people you look to for inspiration?
EC: [Kacey] is continually, as a songwriter, looking at archival things or smaller niches or genres that aren’t necessarily pop culture-related. She does love history and knowing the story behind something, and the same goes for me. I don’t think that just because something is from a past season, it’s dead in the water. It’s interesting to watch how fashion cycles and where inspiration has come from.
Obviously, [Kacey] loves Cher. She’s always such a great reference point because she was such a trailblazer in the different designers she wore and how she took risks.
TV: How did Kacey’s iconic 2019 Met gala Barbie look come about?
EC: Kacey has such fun with things. She has a great bit of sarcasm and wit, and I think [creative director of Moschino] Jeremy Scott does [too]. He is so playful and, like [Kacey] says, “He’s the king of camp.” So for the theme of the Met gala being that, it was like, “Let’s go for it.”
Kacey was specifically “Met Ball Barbie”; she wasn’t a random Barbie. Jeremy has done a Barbie for the Met. It was a perfect marriage of that. Since he already created it, we said, “Let’s make that come to life.” That’s the best part about Kacey — she really commits to something. So we did the blonde wig, and I said, “Can she arrive in a pink Corvette?” They ended up making that. It was a Corvette they had to wrap in pink…. She and I love the details!
It was kismet how it all worked out. Even down to her Forevermark earrings — they had the perfect earrings that looked like the doll’s earrings, and Jeremy made the blow-dryer bag.
TV: What about the metallic rainbow dress that she wore for her “High Horse” music video and for performing with Harry Styles at Madison Square Garden?
EC: That dress is by Rosie Assoulin, and it is so magical. Many of Kacey’s references go back to rainbows — she has a song called “Rainbow.” It’s that the idea behind a rainbow is so enticing, and that dress is a work of art. It’s this ombré, metallic, pleated, beautiful piece, and in the “High Horse” video, it was fun because she got to spin around in it, and [also because] that song’s a bit disco-based. For Harry, it was so fun to do the homage to Shania Twain and do a bold look for it.
TV: Out of the many unforgettable jumpsuits and suits that Kacey wears, do you have a favorite of each?
EC: The Versace that she wore to the CMAs was such an iconic black suit. I loved how we did the reveal of taking the jacket off, and then you saw the blouse that was underneath that looked sheer, but was covered at the pockets. And the keyhole gave the effect of a tie, since it had the bolo at the top.
Jumpsuit-wise, I’ve got to say the pink sequin Juicy [Couture] jumpsuit. That one stands out the most because the shade of pink was so nice — it was a bit blush-based. It reads as so many things — disco and modern, but also seems old school because it has a bit of a kick-flare at the bottom, but it’s not too much of a bell-bottom.
TV: You source a lot of actual vintage pieces for Kacey. Is there a specific piece that felt fated for her?
EC: There are a couple of places that have very well-preserved vintage, so you have to ask to borrow it and pay for the rental on it. I’m happy to support those types of establishments because they are conserving history.
What [Kacey] and I both appreciate is the detail and the quality. She wore this red jumpsuit for the Grammys, when she performed with Dolly Parton, and it felt like it was made for her… the proportions on it, the little rickrack [trim] on it.
She wears one on The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show on Amazon. Kacey opens the show with James Corden, and it looks like she’s wearing a high-waisted pant, a blouse, and a vest, but it’s all one piece as a jumpsuit. There are crystal buttons on the wrists and coral rhinestones down the vest — we added a Gucci bow to the middle of it.
We never want something to feel too costume-y though — that is the one thing. So vintage, where it is still great quality, where whether you wore it back then or wore it today, it still holds up.
TV: Is there anything specific you want to try with Kacey in the future?
EC: It’s funny. When I was [at the Country Music Hall of Fame], I realized we hadn’t done green. And then she was just on Fallon and wore this green sparkly Christian Siriano suit, so now we can check that off the list. There are so many different shades of every color, so we’re always excited about what the next one can be.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue