By now, you’ll have digested the myriad, disparate themes of Solange’s fourth album When I Get Home. Or perhaps you haven’t – and that’s the point. The younger Knowles sister dropped a 19-track tribute to her home town of Houston, Texas, on February 28, and then, two days later, she released a video that is just shy of the album’s 39-minute runtime. To say the film is as ambitious as the audio output, which features the likes of Pharrell, Sampha, Dev Hynes, Tyler the Creator and Playboi Carti, is an understatement. The footage comprises sumptuous slow-motion outdoor dance sequences, selfie videos, snapshots of rodeo riders, computer animation and street scenes – all in homage to Solange’s roots, as a nuanced depiction of black womanhood and, quite simply, art for art’s sake. It’s sometimes raw, always stylistically beautiful and a true insight into Solange’s imagination and that of her inner circle. Central to this is the fashion.
Kyle Luu, who has been Solange’s stylist since the Met Gala 2017, is at the heart of her team of collaborators. The performer found him via Instagram when he was working as Travis Scott’s dresser (he racked up four years with Kylie Jenner’s partner) and this meeting is symbolic of the way they work. They are both Insta obsessives. Rather than compile a moodboard for When I Get Home, they direct messaged each other references. “We pretty much have the same taste,” Luu tells Vogue over the phone from New York. “It’s an easy working relationship, as she kind of lets us [Luu, plus Solange’s make-up and hair stylists] do our own thing.”
The team began working on the visuals six months ago without hearing any of the music. The back-and-forth messaging then became more rapid after tracks filtered down to them over the course of three months. Many of the references are not shareable as they relate directly to Solange’s family lineage, and indeed, it’s not necessary to share most of the visual aids because the project was really all about conjuring up a feeling, says Luu.
“We wanted the looks to feel like elements versus garments,” he expands. “They appear like a second skin, rather than a piece of clothing.” Take, for example, the jewellery. The futuristic eyelid bar that features on the album cover was created by Israeli accessories designer Keren Wolf, who realised the pieces on Lady Gaga’s Joanne tour and counts Kylie Jenner and Nicki Minaj as clients. The sparkly silver headpiece and bikini was fashioned by Yeha Leung, who is in Luu’s creative circle and predominantly makes bondage wear under the guise Creepy Yeha.
“We always want to work within our community,” says Luu. “We hang out in the same pool of people, and Yeha is just one of those downtown New York girls that so happens to create amazing work.”
Other designers, such as Eric Javits, who is the man behind some of the hats, were sourced during Luu’s extensive social media scrolling. “I spend too much time on there. Solange is the same,” he giggles. “We can find any designer you can possibly imagine via Instagram.” Brands like Telfar, Gareth Pugh and Helmut Lang, whom Solange regularly looks to for public-facing looks, were the bread-and-butter brands that supported the whole aesthetic.
“I wasn’t afraid,” Solange wrote via Instagram of unleashing her new project into the ether – albeit by a carefully curated roll-out plan. “My body wasn’t either, even at times of uncertainty. [My fans] make me feel safe and held even in this big big strange world.” And there lies the secret to Solange’s uniquely captivating style: it’s propped up by the community standing behind her, much like her album.