Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss On Nail Art, Studs, & More

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With two albums under their collective belt, the duo behind Sleigh Bells — Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller — has drummed up interest in more than just their genre-bending style of hardcore pop.

Since the band's sophomore effort dropped in February, frontwoman and pop chanteuse Alexis Krauss’ singular style and energetic live performances have been turning heads, including that of Mugler creative director Nicola Formichetti. From varsity jackets to acid-wash jeans, Krauss’ look has the sort of rock-legend savvy that proves, once again, that music and fashion make the best bedfellows. Ahead of tomorrow night's sold-out Sleigh Bells show at 9:30 Club, we got a chance to chat her up about her personal style, shopping hotspots, and nail art obsession — read on for the full scoop.

SleighBells-general-2-Patrick-Odellslide Photo: Courtesy of Sleigh Bells/Patrick Odell

You’re heading to D.C. on Tuesday – anything special you plan to do while you’re in town?
"I’m super excited to play the 9:30 Club. I always find myself sort of talking it up. I honestly think one of the top five shows we’ve ever played was with CSS at the 9:30 Club. It’s one of those venues that is so all-inclusive, you know? You get a great meal and great hospitality, so a lot of times we just end up staying at the venue. It’s unfortunate — other than my eighth-grade field trip, I don’t know D.C. that well. I need to spend some real, authentic time there."

How does your music influence your sense of style?
"I like to switch things up for every record. I have never been the type to be too over the top or avant garde; I don’t really like to think that much about what I’m wearing. I want to wear things that are practical, but make a statement."

Who are your music-world fashion icons?
"I’ve been referencing a lot of Lita Ford lately. She has this really '80s, trashy, over-the-top style. I don’t necessarily think it’s all the most tasteful stuff, but I definitely pull elements from her look. Also, Mary Weiss from the Shangri-Las always looked really tough and badass, yet sweet and feminine. In terms of modern icons, Santigold has a great way of looking theatrical without getting too costume-y."
SB-online-general-patrick-odellPhoto: Courtesy of Sleigh Bells/Patrick Odell

You move so much during a Sleigh Bells performance — what changes about the way you dress when you’re not running around on stage?
"What I wear onstage is really meant to reflect the music, which is incredibly bombastic and combines a really intense toughness with femininity. I would wear whatever I wear onstage on a regular basis, but I just don’t know how well short shorts work, walking down the street in Brooklyn. Offstage, I’m attracted to a lot of designers who are almost gothic in their aesthetic. I like Obesity and Speed and the Seattle-based line Actual Pain. They do a lot of great tank tops and good denim, and they update classic looks in a darker way."

Is there one item of clothing you can’t live without?
"I have this studded leather jacket that I’m so in love with. It’s a vintage piece that was customized by this woman, Hina, who does incredible studding work out of Search & Destroy in New York. Nicola Formichetti gifted it to me at our Elle shoot. I wore it for the shoot and jokingly looked at him afterward and said, 'Oh, man, I would love to have this jacket.' He looked back at me and was like, 'You want it? Just take it, sure!' And I was like, 'Omigod I can’t believe Nicola Formichetti just gave me this jacket.' It’s the most badass piece. I find myself bringing it through airport security and they look at me like, 'What is this, a weapon?'"

What about a beauty products? What can't you live without?
"I’m in love with Sachajuan Volume Powder. It’s the best for second-day, not-washed hair, especially when you’re on the bus in Europe and your only option is a skuzzy venue shower."
SB-general-1-patrick-odellslidePhoto: Courtesy of Sleigh Bells/Patrick Odell

We’ve noticed you rock some incredible nail art. Who does your nails at home, and how do you keep them looking good on the road?
"So I have a great friend, Ria Lopez, and whenever I’m home, she takes care of my nails. She’s the best. On tour, I actually just tried the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. I think they’re going to be a new necessity for when I get to that three-week mark and Ria’s not nearby. It was super-easy to do."

Where do you love to shop?
"For the last record, I was getting my whole wardrobe from this company called Black Milk in Australia that does incredible leggings. This time around, I found this company in Berlin called Bambi and Manson. It’s this woman, Polly, and her boyfriend, Jim, who do the most incredible custom denim, specifically shorts, out of their house. They just named a pair after me, which is incredibly flattering. Also, while on tour, it’s great to hit the local Goodwill. Thrift and vintage shopping is much more interesting for me than going to the mall."

Can you describe your personal style in five words or less?
"Denim, heavy metal, studs, leather, Keds."