Solange Knowles Opens Up on Childhood, Music, and that Elevator Video.

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byLeigh Belz Ray


Rebel, Rebel: Getting To Know The Real Solange

Solange Knowles (Todd Cole for Lucky Magazine)
Solange Knowles (Todd Cole for Lucky Magazine)

Solange Knowles remembers the first time she got in trouble-big trouble-as a kid. Her parents, salon owner Tina and Xerox businessman Mathew, always allowed their youngest daughter to express herself through fashion. But on that particular night, when Mathew was taking his family to an office holiday party, he put his foot down.


"He worked a super-corporate job," she remembers. "And naturally he just wanted us to look nice, and six-year-old me came out in a tutu and tap shoes. He said, 'No. Not this time.' It was the first situation where he really gave me a look and sent me to my room. He was upset. It was a big deal." She smiles at the memory. "When I look back at old pictures, my dad was always smartly dressed, my mom had the most elegant, beautiful style, and my sister was very into the '90s Cross Colours look, and I …" she pauses. "I just had all of these different things inside me."

Solange Knowles was born to stand out. And today, on a hot late-May afternoon in New Orleans, she's looking straight-up vivid. Slightly east of the French Quarter, Washington Square Park is full of all types-construction workers, kids on skateboards, girls hula-hooping. This is a city known for its colorful buildings, bold flavors and oversize characters. So it takes something special to draw the eye: Heads turn when the girl dressed in a bright yellow Christopher Kane dress, turquoise neoprene Josh Goot shell and gold Aldo sandals strolls through the grass with her rainbow-bright bike.

See More: Solange's Best Looks

Color-blocking is the singer's current obsession. The departure from her wildly creative mixed-prints look is just the latest iteration of her ever-changing style. It started back in the tutus-and-tap-shoes days and continued in earnest through her teen years. "I had issues with dressing weather-appropriate," she remembers. "In Houston, it's pretty much always hot. But I was mad I didn't get to have seasonal outfits so I'd wear sweaters and tights anyway."

There were also thematic shifts. When she started listening to Alanis Morissette, she says, she "went through a goth phase … even though Alanis was not goth at all." The summer before sixth grade, she visited Tokyo and a Harajuku Girl moment began. "It was not good," she recalls. "I had on stars-and-stripes stockings with a poufy skirt, two balls in my head, some crazy sweater and platform sneakers. When I went to the Sharpstown Mall in Houston with a friend, people were falling out laughing. It was a hot mess, but I was committed." Then, when she was 14, she went to Jamaica and embraced the Rastafarian lifestyle. "I was into veganism and spoken word," she says with a self-conscious flush. "I only wore clothes from secondhand shops and did a lot of meditation. My first album came out during that phase, so there's unfortunately a lot of photographic evidence."

These days, there's less of a theme guiding her wardrobe choices, though she says all of her childhood fashion adventures are in there somewhere. She's been returning to the colors of Jamaica recently: red, green and yellow pieces from brands like Acne, Marni, Opening Ceremony, Tibi and J.Crew. "It's interesting how the past comes back full circle and then it becomes more refined," she says.

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