This week saw the release of Adele’s music video for her hit tune All I Ask. In it, she appears in over two-dozen different variations of white pantsuits, which she wears with varying degrees of discomfort, which she wears as loud-mouthed nudity, which she wears as ridiculous marketing stunts, and which she wears with such ease that she’s every bit the woman on the cover of Forbes who can get in any major fashion magazine. Basically, she looks like anyone who owned a collection of T-shirts and is now employed as a celebrity stylist.
After the music video went viral, the singer spoke in a Vanity Fair cover story about how she asked to wear a white suit because “it’s something that used to feel quite womanly,” at the time. She noted that in the “modern age of sexuality,” as Oprah asks, “what are your thoughts about wearing a white suit?” By wearing a suit that was her own design, she made a statement about a platform where women are praised for looking a certain way, and turning the tables on that.
“I like the idea of just unapologetically being in charge of your look. If I see something I like, I wear it,” she said. After wearing a suit that was deemed a “symbol of female weakness” in the past, she noted, “I decided, ‘That’s not my cup of tea. I’m going to make it my cup of tea’. And then I sort of put the politics out of the way, and just enjoyed the outfit.”
In the music video, she explains to Oprah that she chose to wear a suit because “at the moment I can be in any type of scenario and look how I want to,” but notes that “it will be difficult for a man to do that if they’re just being interviewed.” When the soft spoken talk show host asks if that makes it “very difficult” for her to ever be mistaken for a man, she says: “Well, no, not really, because my husband’s too hot. He made the suit, he made the shoes. … I hate male models, actually, all of them, especially muscle-y ones, they look like creatures from Mars.”
But in real life, when she’s men have trouble recognizing her, she said she realized that her dress-down, outfit-shopping “little girl” behavior was getting people uncomfortable. She recalled one encounter with a man who refused to pay attention to her. “And then I went, ‘Do you like soft? I’m crying here, I don’t like being interviewed, I didn’t have a good life before I met you,’ and he was like, ‘Can you shut the fuck up?’
Not only did the star’s decision to wear her own designs make her the most powerful woman in the music industry, it took back her time at the helm of her own fashion brand, Adele Ltd. “I had a dress that came out, which was a modern version of a Tiffany blue suit, and nobody wanted to buy it,” she said. “I found myself feeling trapped in it because of the lines that hadn’t been put there, and the contradiction. I had a real anxiety about it. So it was more for effect, I suppose.”