Singer Janelle Monáe has ditched her alter-ego Cindi Mayweather, an android based on the 1297 film Metropolis; Mayweather represented a mediator between the mind and the hand, the heart that brings people together, and was who Monáe used to comment on cultural and political issues. But she's not just saying goodbye to Mayweather — she's saying goodbye to her signature color palette too.
“What if people don't think I'm as interesting as Cindi Mayweather?” Monáe tells Rolling Stone of leaving her defense-mechanism behind. “I created her, so I got to make her be whatever I wanted her to be. I didn't have to talk about the Janelle Monáe who was in therapy. It's Cindi Mayweather. She is who I aspire to be.” As Monáe peels back the layers, it’s changing everything, including the way she dresses.
“I think this whole album cycle, she’s really exploring color a lot more,” Alexandra Mandelkorn, the stylist responsible for dressing Monáe in her latest music video “Pynk,” tells Refinery29. “She’s not only wearing color in her music videos but in her appearances.” Still, Mandelkorn says that Monáe's tried-and-true black-and-white palette will always be a part of her, and that the singer will always work to incorporate it into her look. “She’s showing another side of her,” Mandelkorn adds. “And with that comes more color, more information, more color, more facets of her femininity.”
was the first video off of Monáe's forthcoming album, Dirty Computer, and, according to Mandelkorn, aimed to show different sides of femininity. “I went looking for textures that felt soft but also strong, and shapes that were rounded or had this kind-of vaginal shape,” she says. “I wanted to pull things that alluded to that female anatomy that also felt cohesive with the pants so that they didn’t feel very out of place.”
The pants, she’s referring to are THE pussy pants that broke the Internet, which were designed by Duran Lantink, a friend of the video’s director, Emma Westenberg. “She called me a week before filming from LA and asked me if I could design and realize five vagina suits for the video,” Lantink tells Refinery29 of making the pants in just one week. “So I did. Four days later I flew in with the five outfits from Amsterdam, and drove directly to the film set. Crazy.” The pants featured different layers made of all different shades of pink. It’s really beautiful — and a true departure from what fans are used to seeing her wear.
Monáe embraced black-and-white as way to pay tribute to her upbringing. “It’s a dedication to uniformity and I’m a minimalist by heart, but a lot of it had to do with me wanting to have a uniform like the working class, like my mom and my grandmother,” she said in a interview with the Huffington Post. “My grandmother had 16 sisters and brothers and they all had to share one pair of shoes,” she continued. “And so that’s the family that I come from — I don’t ever want to be detached from that. I use it as motivation for my music and to just keep me centered, grounded and to stay on message.”
Her message, however, is still the same — now it’s just broadcast in color.
Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images.