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Just over a year ago, Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid burst onto the scene as La Roux, gaining attention for their addictive combination of Jackson’s high-pitched vocals and Langmaid’s euphoric pop beats.
Their singles, “Bulletproof” and “In for the Kill,” topped the charts last year and received multiple nominations at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards and 2010 Brit Awards, and won Best Dance Floor Filler at the 2010 NME Awards.
The group is not being recognized only for music. The musicians’ style — particularly Jackson’s androgynous clothing and sky-high red hair — is generating just as much chatter.
“If you gave me 10 pairs of Manolos, I would sell them on eBay,” says Jackson, 22. “I don’t care about high heels; I don’t care about dresses. I would even go so far as to say they are ugly.”
At just four years old, Jackson ditched the cutesy frocks her mom bought her in favor of tracksuits and trousers. Since then, she has evolved her look, inspired by Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie, Tilda Swinton and Annie Lennox.
“I don’t want to be a man,” she says. “I very much enjoy being a woman — I love my body, and the sexiness of being a woman — but I like men’s clothes.”
Jackson’s wardrobe includes structured jackets by JC/DC (which is what she’ll be wearing when La Roux performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival today), black skinny jeans, fur coats and Gucci loafers. She has worked with her longtime friend and stylist, Nova Dando, to carefully craft her onstage persona. In the beginning, they spent hours re-creating designer pieces, unable to afford the originals, but “now we are very lucky,” Jackson says. “Today I was dressed in head-to-toe McQueen.”
Her look has been copied by girls all across London and even in Topshop’s windows, but Jackson is tired of discussing her signature red do.
“I am pretty ready to get rid of the hair, but I am kind of attached to it,” she says. “At the same time, I am kind of fed up with talking about it.”
After completing La Roux’s extended U.S. tour, Jackson plans to take some time off before working on her new album — and her new house. She lives with her parents in South London, but this month she purchased her own home nearby.
“It’s like my dream house, literally,” she says. “I really like the idea of getting into a completely empty house and doing whatever I like with it.”