In addition to being one of the greatest songwriters, artists and performers of our time, Lizzo has firmly established herself as something of a fashion trailblazer. And as she explained Monday during the Vogue Forces of Fashion digital conference, her perspective on fashion is very much informed by feeling excluded from it for most of her life.
In conversation with designer Jeremy Scott, who's created many a show-stopping custom gown for the singer, Lizzo explains how she loved taking fashion risks in high school, even though she got made fun of for wearing things that were maybe a little more avant-garde than what most kids were wearing at the time.
"I had to get creative as a big girl," she says, broadcasting from her fabulous vacation home in Mexico. "If it wasn't made for me, I made it for me."
As Lizzo's star rose, of course, the designers did literally start making it for her. As an example, she gives the custom pink Moschino gown she wore in her debut Vogue cover story. "For someone like me, to have great designers make bespoke special pieces that fit my body, my rolls, my curves, that is the most special feeling," she explains. "I feel so included, I feel so 'you belong here.'"
Because of this perspective, Lizzo has clearly developed an understanding of the power fashion can have, whether it's in delivering a message, like "Vote," or in making a marginalized group feel seen and included.
This year, Lizzo devoted much of her time and influence towards a personal campaign to inspire her fans to vote. "I used fashion to do that," she tells Scott, explaining how she would literally wear clothes that said "Vote" in places and scenarios where maybe people weren't thinking or talking about voting. "Fashion can be the vehicle for a lot of inclusivity in the future," she adds.
She explains how fashion is "indebted to a lot of Black women's culture" and says fashion needs to return the favor, essentially, by not only casting and dressing Black women, but by putting them behind the scenes and involving them in the conversation as well.
"It's not gonna be less chic because we're a part of it — if anything it's just gonna be more expansive and more impactful," Lizzo continues. She draws a parallel to Kamala Harris's and Joe Biden's election speeches, and the way they included marginalized groups, suggesting that fashion is one industry can go a long way towards making people feel included. "Putting fashion on big, Black women like me is where it begins," she says. "I love when Kamala said, 'although I am the first Black female VP I'm definitely not gonna be the last, because what I represent is possibility.' That's how I feel about being the first fat Black woman on cover of Vogue: I'm definitely not gonna be the last. This is just a staple in culture, being like, we're here to stay, we're important, we're chic, we're beautiful and we are the future of fashion."
She even touches on white allyship in fashion, referencing a (slightly cringey) comment Scott made about how he felt "lame being a white person."
"I don't ever want someone to feel bad just because they’re white or feel guilty just because they're white, or lame, I just want you to understand what you were given, what you inherited in this country, and turn it and give a piece of the pie to somebody who didn't," she explains.
"We're just trying to be there too, that's it. I love Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima and Kate Moss, I think all those types of people are gorgeous but I just want to see a me too, strutting with legs and thick thighs. I want to look at her and be like, 'I can buy that dress,' and not, 'oh let me make sure they can open up the seams so I can get my big ass in there.' That is what inclusivity means to me."
Can someone give Lizzo her own fashion brand already?