Back in 2016, well before the release of Isolation and only a few months after the unveiling of “Perfect,” her visually striking pastel split screen with Tyler, the Creator, Kali Uchis was asked to describe her aesthetic and its role in her art. “I am a multi-dimensional ever-evolving being,” she said. “I have no aesthetic. I create aesthetics for projects, my last one involved clouds, angels, heaven. It smelled of cotton candy, and it was pink and baby blue and it wore bottom lashes.”
A lot of words have been typed in praise of Kali Uchis’ diamond-plated baby doll steel gaze persona. Her wardrobe’s sensual, subtle genius deserves all the tributes in the world. But from the jump, she has been careful to assert that her sartorial choices are less clues to her identity as they are an avenue for the expression of her art. Her look in the video clip for “Perfect” is an excellent example. One gets lost in the fashion of the neatly tucked flower of platinum hair on her forehead and pearl-crusted pink turtleneck before fully digesting the nostalgic colorway playing out on the entire screen, the careful blocking of the two eminently self-aware star shines of Kali and Tyler (not to be outdone, his look echoes the pattern of her pearl top with naked chest and live butterflies). Teaming back up with the Odd Future rapper and funk star Bootsy Collins in one of Isolation’s preview singles, “After The Storm,” Kali’s looks convey a long-gone sense of glamorous suburban ennui, providing visual backbone to the song’s story of patience and perseverance.
Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite looks from her Instagram. It’s not an OOTD feature. Think of these carefully composed shots as alternate album liner notes.
Medellín On My Mind
The singer celebrated a trip to Colombia last year by donning the world’s sexiest dress to do business in. The lethal height of those white stilettos is giving aesthetic cover with winking puff balls — don’t be afraid to sign on the dotted line.
Showtime At The Apollo
Back in the 90s, chunky platform heels and shiny clothes were the look, but no one ever pulled it off like this. Kali brings out the pin curls and box seat slay for her first gig at the Apollo Theater in 2015.
Future So Bright
Kali loves an Aidan Euan rhinestone moment, and in 2016 paired the LA designer’s incandescent bikini top with a Lace By Tanaya choker and cross of equal wattage. Round plastic clout goggles, because who can see through all that bling?
Look, Don’t Touch
An essential side view of the Kali pouf, her well-elevated retro hair vibe is almost obscured by this all-black, gold belt moment that has her looking like the group of girlfriends who no one could keep up with in high school.
Kali will be the first to tell you she appreciates a monochrome look — simple palettes make her classic beauty shine. Here she takes it a step further, pairing pinks with singer Jorja Smith on the set of last year’s clip for “Tyrant.”
Kali’s an aggressive editor of her IG feed, which means there’s much fewer shots the further back you go. But there’s a reason why this 2014 vibe continues to make the cut. Black liner and white blonde ringlets center a schoolgirl plaid outfit, leaving the look in that sexy-sweet spot from which the singer loves to coo.
Here, Ms. Uchis lets us in on one aspect of her creative process — slaying fans in a one-tone lingerie look while she may or may not be actually journaling five days out from the Isolation drop.
Not Spoiled, Just Deserving
Kali gracefully receives gifts in French tips and an all-white crop, mini skirt, and thigh high boot concept that manifests real abundance.
A Really Good Bad Girl
A flowered white two-piece garners a classic Kali double take.
Animal lovers, divert your gaze from that collar in Kali’s Schon Magazine editorial. But this PVC UNIF bustier props up that Azzedine Alaïa skirt (worn here as a top) to the gods, and Kali’s glamorous loop of hair over one eyebrow leaves us stuck wondering what she has up her sleeve.
Lest you forget that Kali is a princess, she took precious mansion time to gaze out over the horizon in some skinny cuts, cross necklace, a platinum cascade, and a vintage corset top that reminds us that this woman puts in work to achieve IG perfection.
If something inside you doesn’t shatter looking at this image, there may be no hope. A sherbet dress with an expertly placed constellation of straps and gold jewelry gives Kali’s body the perfect framing on a dusky porch.
The Power of Ruffle
Kali has this knack for working fashion elements that bear down on the throttle of high femme. Here, stylist Kyle Luu has her in booty shorts for the gods and a top by Slashed By Tia, one of Kali’s favored designers who specializes in short and transparent garments subsumed by their own curly tiers.
Rainbow-striped track shorts, casually powerful updo, and a white v-neck say, “What a coincidence running into you; I was just on my way to the ice cream truck.”