Vanessa Carlton, Closets
Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa was one of the artists that I had the great fortune to work with when I was a fashion stylist. She had so much of her own style that I learned as much from her as she could have ever learned from me. From the start of her musical success at 17, she was never one for being the pawn of anything or anyone, including music execs or stylists.

A period of "creative withdrawal," which Vanessa mirrored sartorially by wearing all black (her palette cleanser), has acquainted her with a new chapter of her Nolita fairytale. Vanessa's "Return of Saturn" -- a time that she describes as the shift that concludes your 20s -- is filled with self-funded music projects that are free of the music biz package of her that was often labeled, "the girl and the piano." Vanessa is now exuberantly autonomous, "one of the dudes," she states. She is making independent records with a band of male peers, while sweeping across the stage in a hot pink Bernhard Wilhelm dress, with the grace of her former ballerina self. There is no going back to the packaged, success whirlwind that ensued post her seminal Friday afternoon teenage sessions with legend Ahmet Ertegun, who was one of the first to take a liking to what he referred to as her weird voice and angst-ridden lyrics.

"I am fascinated by the idea that we are driven by the desire to feel as if we exist," reflects Vanessa. She spent most of her childhood either in the woods of Pennsylvania or studying at the prestigious School of American Ballet. Her nude ballet flats, Levi's jeans, simple tank, there-but-not-there earrings, and wolf ring tell her story as vividly as one of her earliest songs about a high school crush. In a sheer floral dress that shows off her dancer's legs and a downtown loft where romantic details abound (like an old rope under a coffee table) there's a serenity instead of a storm. Lavender trousers lighten a black structured Theirry Mugler blazer, chimes ring from her fire escape, and a children's choir is woven into her analogue album Rabbits on the Run. A fresh liberation has accompanied Vanessa's realization that she no longer has to be in a dark place to create.

Vanessa's time as a ballet dancer taught her that you have to put time into your art and respect the process. There's an honor in chipping away at something everyday. "I have always enjoyed trying to get to some unknown place with an idea," she says. "It's like you are on this quest to perfect something and you never can." Vanessa's dancer roots have kept her on the ground.





Video Edited by Gregory Pescia.

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