Style Story: Dawn Richard
Fans and critics have watched Dawn Richard transform seemingly into several different facets of herself. From her inorganically matched stint with platinum-selling girl group Danity Kane to her exploration of eclectic sounds with Diddy-Dirty Money, the 28-year-old Armor On singer has now emerged as an independent artist. With that choice, obviously, comes controversy and unwarranted backlash. But while many artists may struggle to find their solo niche among a sea of sound, Dawn confidently knows who she is and has been the same all along.
"Me and Dirty Money, me and Danity Kane, it's all the same person," she tells me. "Puff said I wasn't going any further with Dirty Money, so I chose to keep writing my own story."
And she did. One that encompasses a style that resembles strength, unpredictability and resilience.
On an unofficial summer Friday, the former Making The Band star steps onto a photoshoot set ready to work. In the midst of fainting (almost) over a pair of red Marc Jacobs wedge sneakers, Richard talked at length about current "cool" pop stars, the standouts of today's music generation and how she intends to carve out her space on the style spectrum.
"Check the track record. [Danity Kane and Diddy-Dirty Money] were always ahead of fashion trends," she says. "We were pushing the limits in everything. Danity Kane had five lead singers, which was unheard of, wearing Heatherette; we were doing 10-part harmonies. And Dirty Money had a mogul as a leader. It's never been your typical aesthetic."
Nowadays, the underrated singer-slash-dancer champions a lane she feels is less traveled. Today, it seems the experiences alongside the face of Bad Boy--including meeting Karl Lagerfeld, sitting front row at countless fashion shows and being called into record with music's top producers--play out like ancient history. Forced, essentially, back to square one, she's looking to build something all new, all her own. Tying tribal sounds to classic R&B melodies is just another way to bridge her left-field status to the vision she hopes will be remembered.
"I want to be reminiscent of Brandy. She will always be the vocal Bible to me; I'll be the misfit of music, the rebel of music."
Of course, I ask about the ever-rebellious Rihanna, but Dawn quickly resists any comparison: "Rihanna is Rihanna. I want the music and the style to be daring in itself. I'm pushing androgyny with the patterns and the presence of armor. It's not too exaggerated, that's what the sound is. There's a presence of strength [in the image and music]."
Almost two years beyond Last Train to Paris and a few months past the release of her latest EP, Dawn is staring down the barrel of her debut album GoldenHeart, the first installment of a trilogy. Fans can expect it to be edgier, fresher yet not one set thing.
"You can expect the unexpected with me. I'm not what you wanted or what you thought I would be. I just wanna be me--more of movie, more epic."--Niki McGloster
Styling by Tiffany Hasbourne (@TiffTheStylist)
Photographed by Karl Ferguson (@RageOneMedia)