Petite Meller is not your typical “French girl” girl-crush. Rather than artfully mussed bedhead and perfectly tailored denim, she’s got the blonde pigtails and alabaster skin of a Hans Christian Andersen character, only with significantly more rouge splashed across her cheeks. A frolicking atom of high-pitched quirk, the “Baby Love” singer is as far from the Breton stripes of Françoise Hardy or A.P.C.-influenced separates of Jeanne Damas as you can get, but no matter—there she was, sitting front row at Chanel’s Spring 2016 show, sandwiched between go-to perpetual Parisian-style Pinterest board fixture Caroline de Maigret and Jaime Bochert, with the flush of a Jean-François Colson portrait and the bared thighs of the ongoing Lolita trend in Tokyo’s Harajuku district. If she looked otherworldly in her bubblegum pink Chanel minidress and Little Bo Peep–style hat and maybe a little out of it, that is because she was. “I always wanted to go to [the] Chanel show. It was like a dream,” says the singer, on the phone from Paris, of the experience. “I create alternate realities and I invite people to take part. And I think everyone can create their own.”
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Meller has had some experience creating her own (occasionally bizarre and often absurdist) universe for a while now. “I used to be addicted to going to the cinematheque films, watching [Jean-Luc] Godard, [Ingmar] Bergman, [Michelangelo] Antonioni,” she says. “I was going home, fantasizing about going inside of the screen.” Meller moved on from the cinema to pursue a career as a solo artist alongside a master’s in philosophy at the Sorbonne, meaning her saccharine-filtered world is now tinged with studious self-psychoanalysis and homages to Freud, whom she name-checks in discussing her music videos for singles “Baby Love” and “Barbaric,” where she wriggles in skimpy bodysuits, high-waisted and ruffled panty sets, and larger-than-life hats, her cheeks permanently in a state of orgasmic flush (a symptom of a severe childhood sunburn)—a living psychosexual study.
And rather than the Gallic shrug of “oh, this old thing? I wear this every day” take on Parisian chic, everything that Meller wears has a purpose. The bandages she sports in the “Backpack” video? “They represent a lot of overcoming and healing something,” she says. “The one thing I find important is to wear your trauma proudly. Perfection scares me. I call it ‘you should love your symptom.’ ” Meller is also never without a hat, preferring the outré designs by fashion school students: In “Baby Love” she wore a huge felt one from Marta Cesaro from the London College of Fashion and a sailor hat by Bella Gonshorovitz from Istituto Marangoni, while the transparent hat in “Barbaric” was by Nathan Moy of Central Saint Martins. “I’m obsessed with hats,” she says. “It keeps my mind focused on what I choose to absorb.” After all, sometimes a cigar may just be a cigar, but a hat is never just a hat.
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