Saturday 20 January 2018

Imelda May: Girl got style

MALMESBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 25: Imelda May poses backstage on day 3 of Womad on July 25, 2010 in Malmesbury, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)
MALMESBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 25: Imelda May poses backstage on day 3 of Womad on July 25, 2010 in Malmesbury, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)
American glamour model and pin-up girl Bettie Page poses in a red negligee and stockings, circa 1955 Photo: Photos/Getty Images
Marilyn Monroe. Photo: Getty Images
circa 1955: American actress and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield (1933 - 1967). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sinead Van Kampen

Since bursting onto the scene five years ago with the platinum selling Love Tattoo, Imelda May has gone from strength to strength.

Although it's the uniqueness of her voice and quirky songs that have seen her sell so well, Imelda has also been noted for her distinctive sense of style. Teaming rockabilly with 50s glamour and modern vintage, Independent Woman managed to catch up with Imelda to share a few style pointers.

How would you describe your sense of style?

I love anything from the 50s, so that's me. I love the fashion from that era. Angora sweaters, pencil skirts and torn jeans. I go for the whole 'B' movie thing in a big way - polka dots, prints and loads of colour.

I heard you got into rockabilly early, were you the only one in the Liberties into that scene?

No. My brother was into Rockabilly and he just started me off really.

I grew up in a house with loads of different music, lots of different styles of music and I guess the fashion just rubbed off and the look came from there. He set me listening to Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Billy Fury and that was it - I got myself a blond quiff.

Anything that hasn't worked. Skeletons in the cupboard?

It wasn't always Rockabilly and I did do other things. I was a goth once but I can't say it was really me. I thought I looked great, but now I look back I think oh God - and pastels, pastels do not suit me at all.

Your clothes are quite distinctive, where do you source the look and where do you tend to shop?

Anywhere and everywhere I'll go vintage, new, anything really. I have gowns made quite a lot as well. I go to charity shops a lot.

So you've done the window sale thing then?

God yeah. I love all that. If I see something I have to have I'll be in early. I once begged the manager of a charity shop on Thomas Street to sell me a leopardskin coat that was in a window sale. I was on my knees!

And your best buy?

Loads. I once got a gorgeous red ballgown for €20. It had puffed sleeves and everything.

Do you have a stylist now that things have become so hectic with touring?

God, no. Why would you? I don't see why you would have anyone style you. I know what I like and I get it myself. I wear my own styles and I know my own shape. For gigs and for evenings I'll go with 50s dresses and clothes that flatter my shape. In the day I love swing skirts or ripped jeans.

Who are your fashion heroines?

Bad girls. Definitely the bad girls. I love that whole film noir thing. Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page and Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It - her dresses are great in that film.

I read that you met Eartha Kitt - was she as glamorous in real life?

Oh yeah. It was wild. She lit up the room with a glittery gown that had a slit in the side that came up past her thigh. Everyone in the room just went wow and stopped dead. She's a gorgeous lady.

Any style tips you'd like to share?

I don't know if dressing is the most important thing. For myself I dress the way I like to dress. I don't follow fashions and trends as such and I dress for my shape. In the 50s the reason why the women looked so good was because they had bloody good underwear, I can't wear babydolls because I look like I'm wearing a sack. If you've overdone it a bit corsets are great. You just tuck it all in. I do love my figure-hugging stuff.

Is it true you make your own jam?

Ahhhh - where did you hear that?! It is true. If the music all goes pear shaped I'll fall back on my jam maybe even the farmers' markets.

I don't get as much time as I'd like but the rest of the band love it.

My husband goes mad because he'll come home to find all the empty jam jars lined up and me making rhubarb and ginger jam until three in the morning.

Mayhem, the new album by Imelda May was released on September 3.

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