“Dancehall Queen” Robyn Breaks Down Her Scandinavian Style

Let the bookworms have their "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." When it comes to pint-sized, bad-ass Swedish heroines, one need look no further than Robyn. Last year the feisty former teen pop star released the critically acclaimed three-part "Body Talk" album, bagged a Grammy nomination for the club-ready torch song "Dancing On My Own," made a cameo on "Gossip Girl," and toured with Kelis. And just to make it really look easy, she also picked up Best Style Icon of the Decade award from Swedish Elle thanks to her tomboyish take on Fly Girl fashion (Neneh Cherry and Rosie Perez are style icons) peppered with indie finds from Opening Ceremony. Already set to embark on another world tour (including Coachella, it's just been announced), the platinum-haired pixie paused to chat with us about the wonders of La Perla underwear, her top-secret New York City shopping haunt, and her favorite style blog.
robyn-1First of all, congratulations on your Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording. Do you have your outfit planned already?
"I'm going to be on tour. I don't even know if I'm going actually. I wouldn't want to cancel a show, and I don't think I'm going to win, so I don't know if I'll go."

Well, I'd vote for you. Speaking of tours, do you have any favorite stores when you visit New York City?

"I have a favorite second-hand store and I don't want to say where it is because then people are going to find it and buy all the things that I like [laughs]. I also shop at Opening Ceremony and I go to Barneys when I'm there, but this second-hand store is my favorite. It's on Ludlow and it's called Ellen."

As far as designers, do you prefer established labels or up-and-comers?

"There are some designers that I always end up looking at, but I don't know that it is a designer, it's just that I'm attracted to that certain style. But for me, it's not about designers at all. It's about the classic wear like Dr. Martens and Timberlands and bomber jackets, like all the stuff I grew up with. All the old sports labels, like Champion. That's kind of the stuff that I'm into for real. And sometimes I find things from designers that remind me of where I come from, where I feel that my roots are, and that's what attracts me. My style is kind of based around the things I always wore as a kid."


If you could trade closets with one person, who would it be?

"Rosie Perez, 20 years ago. She's amazing."


You've worn a lot of insane costumes in your videos, including the liquid-filled piping from "Indestructible." Do you have a favorite?

"It has to be the demolition machine outfit in the 'Konichiwa Bitches' video."

What are your top five fashion or beauty essentials?

"I'd say my Dr. Martens for sure. I started putting wedges on all of my shoes, so I have these Dr. Martens and Timberlands with platforms on them. I've gotten so used to it because I'm really short. It's perfect because I don't like to wear heels, so I can be a little bit taller. I also wear earrings and rings. I just bought this amazing ring by Delfina Delettrez. She makes this amazing jewelry that they sell at Opening Ceremony, like big eyeball earrings and rings or big rings. She's crazy. I like toothpaste. It's really important if you want to be pretty. If you have bad breath while trying to be pretty, that's really, really bad. Toothpaste is good. I like La Perla underwear. I know that it's stupid money to spend because it's so expensive, but La Perla is the best ever. And I like Dior's rose lip balm. Those are five honest products!"

What's the best piece of style advice anyone's ever given you?

"I think you have to figure it out for yourself. People can give you advice, but if you're not feeling it, you're not going to hear what they're saying anyway. It's like, I dressed like a boy for half of my life because it was a way to protect myself and feel secure about myself. It was almost like armor, you know? And people always told me, 'You've got to show your body more!' I always took it the wrong way but I think now that I've turned 30 I get what they were saying. I totally love wearing dresses and stuff that suits my body. People give you advice, but you're going to do it until you're ready to see yourself that way. Also, for me, it's not about a designer or a style, it's about the fit. Does it actually fit your body? Is it a high waist or a low waist, or is it a turtleneck... When I figured out what looks good on my body structure-wise, a lot of things fell into place for me. But then you can look at any designer or any kind of store and start picking out clothes from a different perspective. "


What's the last item of clothing that you bought?

"It was a purple leopard-patterned bathrobe from a Danish brand called Kokoon [laughs]."


Swedish fashion seems to be having a moment right now, most recently with Elin Kling's line for H&M. Why do you think that is?

"I think the Swedish people have always had a great sense for design. It's the same thing in Iceland. If you're from a small country and you feel like you're on the outside, people get really self-conscious. It's a way to fit in. If you're geographically on the outside, you study the rest of the world because you feel isolated and you want to communicate. So it's kind of sweet. I think people in Sweden are very aware of what they look like. It's something that develops when you are insecure in your culture. Stockholm is a really small city but it's still a capital, so you get this really weird mix between outside culture and a big city kind of mentality."

Are there any style blogs or publications that you read for inspiration?

"My friend who I work with has a blog about style called 2faced1.com. She's a stylist and is also a dancer, so she discusses why we wear what we're wearing, why we communicate with what we're wearing. And I like i-D."

So you just played on "Gossip Girl." What was that like?

"It was nice. They were nice to us. We kind of just hung around all day and did our song. I don't really know a lot about the show, but it seems like a lot of people really like it so it was cool."

What do you think about the relationship between music and fashion?

"I think it's a myth that fashion and music belong together. Fashion to me is the industry that's selling the clothes. And I don't that artists and music have anything to do with that at all. But music is about youth culture and street culture, and that's where the fashion bloggers come into it, because they know the importance of that as well. That's what I get inspired by—outsider culture and street culture. And that's where music and style are starting to mix."

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