NH: Music has always been a big part of my life. I sang in choirs, had solos, was asked to record, but it took a while to actually consider singing as a career. The “Aha” moment happened in Orlando, FL during my first ever in-concert performance at a night club where I was singing dance music I’d recorded. I sang a string of songs and had to entertain the audience in-between singing. It was the most challenging yet exhilarating feeling I’d ever experienced. I fell in love with not only singing, but entertaining, too.
When I first started out singing full-time, I was working so many nights a week, it was really a challenge to create a consistent fashion identity. Sometimes I would feel constrained to dress to the style of the music. But now, I really focus on being true to myself – staying classy but always having fun. To me, singing is a sensual experience, so I am fully compelled to show that in what I wear, which to me, means being somewhat body-conscious. Whether it’s a classic look, or taking a few risks, it’s never fun to play it too safe when it’s time to really express yourself.
FW2: What role does fashion and style play in your everyday life? As a performer, how does your presentation of your “onstage self,” fashion- and style-wise, differ from your “personal self?” What is your creative process for dressing every day? For dressing for a performance?
NH: Fashion plays a big role in my everyday life as my style is often inspired by my environment and how I’m feeling at a certain point in time.
I love the planning that goes into style and dressing, whether it’s for a show or for my every day look. For shows, I prepare my looks at least a week in advance and try on clothes and accessories. For every day, I’ll sometimes take a look outside, visualize myself out in the world, and decide how I want to feel in my clothes that day. While I am often drawn to wearing colors, sometimes the other side of my Pisces personality breaks out with solid darks, so I might change clothes two or three times before settling on an outfit.
Fashion is so much fun and I would love the luxury of having more time to spend preparing myself for every day, but sometimes I find that I’m not as mindful as I could be. I’ll forget the scarf, or about the new shoes I’ve been meaning to debut, or to pull that specific top to go with those pants. I’ve often resorted to taking photos of my outfits and using them for reference to prevent this from happening!
FW3: Who do you use as your muse when putting on your public face? Why and how does she/he/they inspire you within the realm of fashion and style?
A: My style muse would be my father. He’s quite a tall man at 6’9″ and he always stressed the importance of great posture, which conveys confidence and can change the overall appearance of any outfit. He also taught me how to iron clothes and polish shoes—simple yet very important skills when it comes to dressing! Also, beyond fashion, my father was always a welcoming presence, which I try to convey myself, which I think transcends whatever you’re wearing.
FW4: If you could have any designer – dead or alive – redo your wardrobe, who would that be and why? What kinds of pieces would you want added to your wardrobe that you already do not possess and why?
NH: I’m a huge Badgley Mischka fan—I have a few of their pieces in my personal wardrobe and I often wear them onstage. They’re also giving my stage wardrobe a makeover for the release of my new album, “So Good, So Right: Nicole Henry Live.” I’m so excited to wear their dramatic, yet soft, feminine styles that truly seem to be made for my body.
I’ve always had a strong connection to the ’70s, not only to the songs from that decade which actually inspired my forthcoming album, but also to the fashion. I love the flowing, feminine styles of Halston and classic Yves Saint Laurent. I’m even more inspired to bring back the camisoles, the dusty rose and brown colors, high-waisted pants and more. I love those colors and the cuts are great for my hips!
FW5: What words of wisdom or inspiration, or daily affirmation do you strive to live by in your daily life? And what legacy, fashion or otherwise, do you hope to leave to the future and why?
NH: I always try to embrace each day with joy, excitement, and gratitude. As for my legacy, I hope that the passion and intention with which I sing will override anything I may fall short of being in my living.