Vanity Fair: The Clairy Browne Interview

When I saw Clairy Browne’s video for Vanity Fair, and was later told that no-one’s really asked Clairy about her interest in fashion before – I decided it was imperative that we meet.

It was on a Wednesday at a dive bar. I sat in wait, scribbling notes, not knowing who to expect through the door. When Clairy appeared, she was in civilian clothes. Clean, tied back hair and natural make up – still gorgeous – but I knew at once that we could have a quiet conversation about music and fashion without me being distracted by her, um, cut-out jeans or conical bralette.

Watching the video, and listening to your new album, I get a real sense that you’re literally busting out, like you’ve got so much to say, and can finally let it out.
Yes! It’s been a major release. I feel now like I have more freedom than ever. I can express myself more as a solo artist. It’s been great.

So how has the response to Vanity Fair been so far?

People in the (Australian) music industry need to put artists in a box – I don’t think they really know how to deal with what I’m doing now. Pop is everywhere in the States, but when it’s an Australian doing pop music…it’s kind of like I’ll need to go away and do it there, and feed it back to Australia afterwards.

You directed the video yourself – what was the main driver for that?

I co-directed, actually. We shot another video first but it didn’t cut it. I wasn’t completely happy with how it turned out. I self funded the video you see now. I went back to the original treatment with Ben Strunin, he’s a director who just gets it. By the time I spoke with him – he was the 4th director I presented the concept to – I had Pinterest boards and I managed to get the treatment quite succinct, actually. I wanted the selfie aspect to be a big part of it. In the end Ben managed to get four different cameras, so the selfie footage was spliced throughout the different scenes in the video.

So what’s the message in the video?

Female body empowerment, taking from different forms in the media. Is it real? Is it fake? It doesn’t bother me whether people have butt implants or fake boobs, people should do what makes them feel happy.

“Is it real? Is it fake? It doesn’t bother me whether people have butt implants or fake boobs, people should do what makes them feel happy.”

More and more these days there is talk about whose butt is real, whose is fake and which cultures really own the big booty. Women are expected to have a tiny waist and a thick ass in order to fit the current trend in beauty standards. I didn’t want to get too political with all that on this track, but rather nod to it, as in “yeah, this is happening at the moment and where do I and other women feel about that and fit with that”. I wanted to try and put an Australian’s point of view on the subject.

I picked a couple of the designers when I watched the video – DI$COUNT UNIVER$E and Doodad and Fandango. When you were styling for the shoot, what were you looking for?

My favourite designer is Idol Official – the owner, Daniel, collaborates with me on my costumes – the white cone bras, and denim suits. He has a really progressive, interesting art mind. We’re collaborating on upcoming pieces for my live shows – we’ve started work one look involving a deconstructed puffa.

Charlotte Webb styled the shoot. Alice Edgely made the glam-ghetto-chic pink skirt in the video. Actually my bedazzled g-string was custom sewn by Charlotte on the spot in the public toilets at Brunswick Square Shopping Centre!

There’s also Distal Phalanx – Assk Paris, Damage Group and Malibu 1992. Idol, Tusler, Shio DesignsRed Cross CollingwoodVintage Garage and Gun Shy.

Clairy Browne by Harold David
Clairy Browne by Harold David. Jewellery by Elke Paradigm Collection, skirt by DI$COUNT UNIVER$E.

Tell me about all the different creative people – what they did for the look and styling in the video, and the cover art work?

The cover was shot by Harold David and styled by David Bonney in Sydney.

When I was working on the concept for the Vanity Fair video I was messaging all these randoms on Instagram, asking them for ‘belfies’ (butt-selfies), searching for my Cake Squad, but then I found Brooklyn Queenz.

“I was messaging all these randoms on Instagram, asking them for ‘belfies’ (butt-selfies), searching for my Cake Squad, but then I found Br00klyn Queenz.”

The video was all shot in Melbourne – the bedroom scene is at my sister’s place – she lives above a dojo, so we did the gym scene there. The bathroom scene was shot at my best friend’s house – the living room also happened to be excellent, so we decided to shoot a scene there too. The dog was a happy accident. I feel like I got lucky with people offering help for free, or the love of it.

The work out scene was choreographed by Sarhys Page and the look was inspired by Yeezy’s (Kanye West’s) 2015 Fall collection for Adidas – Spanx. Heels. Socks.

What are you working on next?

I’m doing a collaboration piece with Gun Shy Design as part of their ‘Pimp It, Bitch!’ project.

What will that involve, exactly?

I’ll help design a custom coat, with ideas and inspiration, and then it’ll become part of a capsule collection alongside Kira Piru, Cosi of Mangelwurzl and Tanzer. For my Gun Shy collab I was thinking about cockatoos. You know their big yellow crest? I can just see big crowny, crest things in bold colours.

“I’ve been getting really inspired by nature lately, which is really new for me. I used to be like naytch? Ew.”

I’ve actually become a bit of a light chaser. I thought there might be something strange going on, but I checked and it’s actually a thing. I get fascinated with seeing how dappled light shines through trees, and filters over objects in nature. I looked it up – #lightchasers.

Ohhh… I thought you said you were a ‘like chaser’.

Yeah, well I’m one of those, too. Aren’t we all?

Watch the Vanity Fair video here:

Vanity Fair was co-written and produced by Clairy Browne with Rob Kleiner (The Weekend, Sia), MNDR Warner (Mark Ronson, Q-Tip, Charlie XCX) and Gabriel Strangio (The Bangin’ Rackettes, Kira Puru) and is the first single from her solo album, due out early 2016.

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