Lava La Rue has become a household name in recent years. Many will know the 22-year-old as the singer-songwriter and rapper behind the critically acclaimed 2019 EP. Stitches, and as a founding member of NiNE8, a diverse London collective, home to rappers, producers, and household names such as Biig Piig. Others will recognize her as a runway regular and the face of multiple campaigns, or as an active and vocal member of the black and LGBTQIA + community, championing black stories and queer love in the mainstream through the mainstream. music and art. This summer she released a fan-led music video exploring the locked-out summer of love for her single GOYD (Girl Of Your Dreams) with the product going to the Black Trans collective FOR OUR SIBS.
Fortunately, the pandemic did not diminish the creative prowess of La Rues. On February 19, she released her second EP Butterfly alongside self-taught artwork and a music video for the bluesy opening track Magpie. Inspired by Bjrk, Prince and the sounds of his collective, it consists of five personal queer love stories envisioned as individual films with the same characters but different contexts and genres. After Magpie, Angel, a poppy fusion of sounds from West London and the American West Coast, followed by the ethereal love ballad Goofy Hearts, the trippy R & B track GOYD and Lift You Up with Karma Kid , a sweet finish with a kaleidoscopic EP.
DIY is La Rues which guides the philosophy of life, having fashioned its own clothes and typographies from the age of seven. This creative spirit is the basis of its success, as well as of the NiNE8 collectives. From trawling in charity shops to inspiration in vintage magazines, the extraordinary DIY shares its top fashion hacks, below.
How do you DIY your clothes?
I swap unworn clothes in charity shops or rearrange them with new materials. I would make clothes before a night out by ripping, sticking, pinning something fast. People liked what I did and that’s how my Lavaland brand was born. When I make clothes I think about functionality and the subcultures from the past that inspire me. I go see a sick photo of Joan Jett in a pinned t-shirt or jeans, then go to Portobello Market and make my own version. With Lavaland and NiNE8 Garms, I buy second-hand clothes by the kilo in warehouses. For the boutique collection we created for London Mens Fashion Week, we found loads of Korean army pants, fixed all the zippers and added all the extra textures.
How would you describe your style?
People say his punk anime meets Ladbroke Grove. I like to be super baggy, like the TLC vibe, with an element of spray paint or a tight top. Sometimes I go for a full Brit-Pop 2000 look in a Fred Perry cardigan and flares.
What are your favorite brands and stores?
Most of my clothes come from custom markets. Love all of the Farrah and Traid charity shops across London. My thing? Go to a charity store in a very nice neighborhood. Camden Market’s Mod Father makes amazing mod pieces, parka jackets and original Trojan Records cardigans. The Fruits The Instagram magazine archive page always makes me want to DIY something.
What’s your biggest fashion crime?
Everything I do is a fashion crime. I do not respect any rule opposing colors, prints and materials. I love trendy ugly knits, grandma’s mohair cardigans, and mixed designs. I’d be buried in a grandma’s cardigan.
What’s your best DIY style or tip?
Don’t be afraid to DIY expensive clothes, because no one else will be wearing it anyway.
What do you wear on the night of a date?
Pre-Covid, I’ll be in full leather Matrix equip. It’s casual, sexy, and not too crazy. I wore it on my first date with my partner.
Who do you think is the biggest fashion icon?
They are everywhere in my house! Posters of Grace Jones, Prince, Joan Jett. I feel like 2021 needs real rockstars with their energy.
How do you go about the DIY process?
Focus on what excites you. Growing up I was excited about the history of Ladbroke Grove, Trojan Records and the Buffalo movement. I’d buy some archival rave posters and FACE 80s magazines for 3 from the Notting Hill Comic Book Exchange to inspire me with my art. I am fortunate to have grown up surrounded by so many resources. You can also do it virtually when watching crazy documentaries. I’ll take a break whenever I see some crazy set design or title graphics and then build my own style around it.
What advice do you have for aspiring creatives looking for their own collective?
Punk, hip-hop, UK garage, grime, they all started out as collectives. NiNE8 is an overview doing something that’s never been done before, bringing a new genre and a new movement. The best way to find your creative tribe is to understand what your long term goal is. Once you work on your frequency, people of the same frequency will come towards you. You no longer need an intermediary to find you a gallery space or make your graphics. Check out all the viral internet stars and room producers! There’s a song that I sampled from South America on my EP that I couldn’t have found without the internet. It all depends on how you use these resources.
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