Musician Eska on the Power of Transformative Dressing

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Eska for AnOther Magazine S/S16Photography by Danielle Levitt

As she prepares to embark on her summer tour, the British singer-songwriter explains how Rick Owens helped her to channel her inner empress

“I love preparing a good something to bring to a house party. Or, of course, if there’s a theme, making more of an effort. The whole dressing-up thing came late into my life – I didn’t do it as a teenager. Now it’s fun – and it should be fun – and empowering. Last year was the first time I had been to Paris Fashion Week. I got to meet Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy the day before the fitting. Michèle’s there with open arms, and there’s Rick, and he’s made not one but three outfits to choose from. I go out with this frock on and I’m staring in the mirror and I suddenly feel like who I’m supposed to be. I felt like an empress. It’s the transformative nature of clothing. Rick’s opened up a can of worms! But it’s so fun, the little girl in me is just jumping for joy. It’s that thing where you put something on and you know instantly – ‘Yeah, that’s who I want to be tonight.’”

Multi-instrumentalist Eska Mtungwazi released her debut album last year at age 44 to rapturous reviews and a Mercury Prize nomination. Zimbabwe-born and Lewisham-raised, she spent her formative years absorbing the rainbow of sounds in her father’s record collection and honing her skills at The Conservatoire in London. After a maths degree, a stint as a music teacher, and numerous collaborations – including one with Grace Jones – Eska was at last ready to reveal her own creative manifesto, a “sound painting” composed of myriad instruments and a voice both powerful and warm. Eska’s soaring, extended vocals provided the soundtrack to Rick Owens’ S/S16 Cyclops show.

For details of Eska's tour dates, click here. This article appears in the S/S16 edition of AnOther Magazine.