On being told that his nails only stayed nice because he never lifts a finger, 21 year old Shamir responded with, “I just know how to work and stay fabulous.” And anyone who has been following his career since his debut release Northtown will appreciate the truth of that statement.
The Vegas born singer-songwriter has been described as “amazingly unclassifiable” – which extends past his music to his (literally) colourful persona. His “genre and gender-blending” style has earned him critical acclaim and live spots alongside legends like Duran Duran and fellow new talents such as Troye Sivan.
In a recent interview with Billboard, Shamir delved into his own stylistic influences – including androgyny and his new found penchant for nail polish. In a-typical Vegas style, Shamir talks about how he shuns branded fashion in favour of thrift stores; “Honestly, all I do is thrift. I literally just came here from thrifting at L Train Vintage. But if I do get anything name brand, it’s usually Topshop. I love Kenzo, too.” He also claims to be “low-key jealous” of Duran Duran’s stylist, who is responsible for their throwback yet modern look.
Citing his only criteria as “Is it colorful?”, the terms ‘womenswear’ and ‘menswear’ are pretty meaningless for Shamir: “I buy clothes from both the men’s and women’s section. Even though I’m non-binary, I’m more well-versed when it comes to menswear, because that’s mostly what I wear.” He disclaims fashion and beauty as the vehicle for his gender expression though, commenting that, “They’ve been a way for me to express how I feel in general, and that includes whether I’m feeling more feminine or masculine that day.”
And it certainly appears that, for Shamir, these elements are purely for his own enjoyment – rather than commentary. Explaining how he got into painting his nails, he tells how he personally felt a bit shortchanged by the attention men get from make up artists; “At photo shoots, women get all the makeup and full treatment, whereas the makeup artists will just wash my face and throw a bit of powder on me and be like, ‘Ok, you’re ready.’ And I’m like, ‘I want to get pampered too!’ The only thing I can really ask for is to get my nails painted. That started the bug. I kept it up as a way to relax on tour.”
Naming Solange Knowles – “period.” – as his fashion icon, Shingai Shoniwa of The Noisettes comes in second with her natural look. Which was something that was “a huge inspiration for [Shamir] going natural”, even after cutting off his dreads on a spur of the moment decision.
Signing off with a simple statement, “I like that I can wear what I want,” I’ve decided that I like that about Shamir too. Musing over his potential fate when it comes to his style, Shamir foresees even more colour; “You know the lady who lives in New York who’s obsessed with green? That might be my future”. And why not?