Meet Lolo Zouaï, the Rising-Star Musician With Kawaii-Cool Style


Photo: Tommy Nowels

Emotionally charged lyrics have become Zouaï’s calling card. The beats may be slick, but there’s a message beneath the gloss. With “Moi,” she glides between French and English, singing of a failed romance in which the woman comes out on top. The audacious attitude of the song comes through in the clip shot by Piotr Lebryk, a director she discovered on Instagram, which features raw concert footage. “[Piotr] just did all these insane edits that I hadn’t seen before. It’s more exciting to work with someone who hasn’t done as many big things,” says Zouaï. “We can grow together, and we’re both helping each other out. It reminds me of when I was making my first few videos; there is a drive and a hustle that comes with having to put something cool together on a smaller budget.”

The video also serves as a showcase for Zouaï’s playful sense of style. In chunky chain necklaces and a ruffled tulle dress worn over a graphic tee, she exudes a tomboyish charm. A fan of Japanese kawaii fashion and chunky platform boots, she’s used to going against the grain. “In high school, I was voted biggest hipster,” she says, with a laugh. “It’s a funny category to have, but I think it was just because I was so into thrifting and I wore whatever I wanted.” These days she and her sometime stylist Colette Aro go custom instead of relying on standard-issue runway samples. On the road, they even found smart ways to avoid getting stuck in a rut. “She’s one of my closest friends, and [before the tour] we just went through my closet. She bought some pieces and then we created 25 outfits based on the clothes we had,” she says. “We took a picture in every outfit and then made an iPhone folder. So when I was on tour, instead of panicking about what I would wear, I could look through my phone and find an outfit.”

Photo: Tommy Nowels

Like many young performers, Zouaï has tastes that channel the mid-’90s and its streetwise aesthetic—especially when it comes to beauty. “I love keeping things fun,” she says. “I don’t wear too much makeup, but my favorites are blush and lipstick, [and] colorful eyeliner. Now that my hair is brown instead of pink or blonde, I try to balance things out with interesting makeup because I’m an eclectic person.”

Zouaï’s inventive approach to dressing has already paid dividends—she recently signed with New York talent agency The Lions, home to supermodels such as Irina Shayk and Shalom Harlow. Even still, songwriting is her first love. “The most enjoyable part is just being in the studio and knowing that you’re creating something special,” she says. “I would love to get a radio hit, but that’s one of those goals where there’s only so much you can do. I want to create a song that touches a lot of people, but [to do that] you’ve just got to keep making music.”

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