meet the stylist creating anderson .paak's psychedelic tour fits
Jasmine Benjamin tells i-D what it's like to dress the 'alien' rapper.
Photography Israel Ramos.
Jasmine Benjamin is the stylist responsible for the eye-popping optical prints Anderson .Paak’s been wearing on his Best Teef in the Game tour, which most recently hit Madison Square Garden. Benjamin has serious pedigree when it comes to providing an incredible tour wardrobe, having spent years outfitting Miguel before coming to work with .Paak. Against the backdrop of his yellow-clad band, the singer’s insane energy radiated throughout the huge stadium, emphasized by his hyper colorful outfits. Ahead of the tour finishing up at The Forum in LA at the end of June, and after .Paak’s head-turning walk down the pink carpet at the Met Gala in Gucci, i-D caught up with Benjamin to talk about the budding style icon’s wardrobe. From his alien demeanor to making custom looks with designer L.A. Roxx, we find out what it’s like to wardrobe the particularly fabulous rapper.
What was the starting point for these alien, wave-patterned sets you created? Do you usually make a custom wardrobe?
Usually I always do customs for tours. That's funny you said alien waves, because Anderson is actually an alien. I'm not even kidding you. He's definitely an alien. He’s playing the drums and rapping and singing at the same time, which I guess is like incredibly difficult.
But for him it's like, "Yeah, I do this." And then he just can do that because his set is 95 minutes, and he's switching back and forth the whole time. And then after the show he can keep going. He'll do an after party and do another show. So he's an alien for sure. So with him it's all the things that we do together. First of all, he loves matching sets. That's his favorite thing.
Maybe two years ago he said, "You know what it's going to all be about in 2018?" And I'm like, "What?" And he's like, "Sets. Matching sets." And I'm like, "Okay cool." [laughs]
Was there a visual inspiration for you?
With this tour a lot of the imagery is psychedelia… So I said, "Okay, psychedelia is cool, but let's do psychedelia for Anderson, and like what's Anderson's psychedelia?" And then what is the modern version of that? It’s alien, these optical prints. That means researching rave flyers from the 90s and looking at those prints. And then I was like, "Let's do these wild colors." Because he loves bold colors like that, that are shouting at you.
Tell us about L.A. Roxx, the designer you created the sets with.
I work with them a lot actually. First of all, they're amazing, and they're stylists’ angels. Because L.A. Roxx is Sharon Rahim, who I live and die for. And there's a couple of other people. Sydney, who also works with him. And then a person named Ricky Kim. But Sharon is the one.
So basically, you can come to them. They can do anything for you, and they do it all in house and they can do it really fast. No matter how much you plan, I swear artists are artists, and they want what they want. So like Anderson, because he is an alien, and he's flying above us, I swear. And then he just comes down one minute and he's like, "Oh yeah, we need this." And then he'll say, "Oh, you have a day [to get it done]."
You also outfitted the band in these searing yellow or blue looks.
For those guys, it's like how can we make them look uniform like a band and then have like a band leader, which is Anderson. Because if Anderson's in prints and they're in prints, I think it's too much to look at when you're in the audience. And I was thinking what is the great positive color?
That's how I look at it. Because I think it's a part of the show. So it's like, okay, well let's make them yellow because they're like the backdrop, which is the sun .So one night they do yellow and then the next night they do blue, which is a teal blue. And then that's like a wave, like an ocean wave. Seeing as he's from California.
How did you start working with Anderson, what was your initial connection?
Well what's interesting about that is, when I was working with Miguel, I would be like, "Why am I not working with Anderson too?" I would think "This is so my vibe." Like this guy's amazing. I always get the California kids. And then when I stopped working with Miguel maybe like a year later, or maybe less than a year, I met his then manager.
I was like, "Yes, I'm totally going to get this guy." He's so rad and so inspiring. And then we worked together on a commercial. And then from there we just worked together because we just really click.
How was the Met Gala? He just looked so happy and so incredible in that Gucci fit.
You know what's interesting about the Met? It's funny because like maybe two weeks or three weeks before the Met, me and him were just talking, and I said, "You know what would be cool… I know people have already been invited already, but if you got an invite to this Met Gala, because the theme is camp, and it makes sense with your personality."
And then I'm not even kidding, like six days later he got an invite. Gucci asked him to be a part of them dressing people.
Did he enjoy himself?
I've done the Met like three times with Miguel. And then with this one I was like, this is your first Met, and I'm trying to give him the little secrets about what happens at the Met. It doesn't even matter, because he just comes and he's a confident, happy guy, everybody is cool with him. Everybody wants to meet him that doesn't know him. That's the life of Anderson .Paak.
It's special. You know, all artists get into this, and then when they start blowing up they turn into... They start getting a little bit jaded or tired or everything. But with him, he doesn't take anything for granted with this. So he's like, "I'm at the Met, oh my God." Because you know how you'll read horror stories where celebrities are like, "Everyone's mean,” or "I had to go to therapy." And then the next day he's like, "Oh my God, I had the best time of my life." He was thrilled.