She’s the consummate multitasker: Grammy-winning front woman of No Doubt, multiplatinum solo artist, designer of two clothing and accessories lines, wife of rocker Gavin Rossdale and, in less than two months, mother of their first child. Last week, at home in her 1923 Spanish-style home in Los Feliz, Calif., Gwen Stefani still looked the part, wearing maternity jeans, a vintage sweater dress belted above her bump and Rasta-hued Christian Louboutin espadrilles. In her first sit-down interview since announcing her pregnancy, Stefani opened up about her music, her fashion career, her body and her great expectations.
WWD: You seem happy to be hanging out at home.
Gwen Stefani: I love this place so much. I’ve been here since about 1998, right after the “Tragic Kingdom” album. I moved out of my parents’ house into this, and I finally got my studio done. But obviously, we’re probably going to have to move once I have the baby. My husband wants to write songs, and there’s no more room. He can’t have a studio next to the baby’s room. This house is really great for singing in if you’re the only person in it.
WWD: How are you feeling today?
G.S.: Right now I’m sort of in lazy mode. I’m obsessed with watching TV and eating [laughs]. But seriously, this is great. It’s the first time I’ve had to just focus on designing since I’ve kind of put the music on hold, and it’s been really fun. Everyone comes to the house and we sit here in the living room and have cookies and design. It feels good to not be double dipping the whole time, because when you are performing, touring and doing appearances, it’s hard to balance both. It takes a lot of energy. The week before, I worked on L.A.M.B. spring 2007 three full days straight and we rolled into Harajuku Lovers that Thursday. After a certain point, it gets hard to see straight.
WWD: Compare Harajuku Lovers and L.A.M.B.
G.S.: There’s nothing to be compared about the two, but at the same time, it’s a challenge for them not to copy each other, because they’re both me. L.A.M.B.’s my serious art project and my passion, and Harajuku Lovers is part of a bigger picture. With music, you do the actual songs, the videos, the artwork, the Web site and now you can do clothes to go with it. So that’s all one big creative pile.
This story first appeared in the April 10, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: Describe the creative process behind L.A.M.B.
G.S.: I used to get really bummed about having to drop something, or if things didn’t work out. Now I just realize it’s going to come, and if I don’t get to it in one collection, I can do it in the next. It’s not as hard as music because the ideas just seem to come. With [fall 2006], for instance, a girlfriend of mine wore this dress when we were in Lake Como doing the video for “Cool” and it became one of the inspirations, a total 1950s, Marilyn Monroe-on-the-beach thing. It was very specific, whereas [spring 2007] is a little broader, but it definitely has a theme. I don’t want to give it away, but we just did the sketches and it’s going really well.
WWD: What do you love most about designing?
G.S.: It’s not the outcome or the product. At the end of the day, it’s the actual process that I enjoy and it’s also the potential with everything. It’s the same with songwriting. I never listen to the record, but I listen to the demos an embarrassing amount of times because it’s the potential of what the song could be or what a bag could be.
WWD: What do bags mean to you?
G.S.: I never carried a bag until I did the LeSportsac line. I just always felt like it was too much of a fiddly, girly thing. I’ve been in a band for 20 years with all guys. I had a backpack, you know? Now I feel like I never will have enough bags because when I leave the house, [paparazzi] always take pictures, and if I wear a bag like two or three times, they are like, ‘Whoa, she’s wearing the same bag!’ But so does everyone else.
WWD: What is it like to see girls and women wearing your products?
G.S.: At first I was really uncomfortable putting it out there, but the reaction was so warm. It’s not quite as emotional [as music], but when you find something that’s your thing… I’ve seen people own those bags like they made them, walking across the street like it defines who they are. And that’s where it started.
WWD: Even after seven L.A.M.B. collections, do you ever feel like a fashion novice?
G.S.: I didn’t go to school for this, but making clothes is something I’ve done my whole life, so it’s not new to me — but at this level, of course, it’s brand new. I don’t know anything, but I enjoy that and the whole vibe of the fashion world, even though I don’t know the rules. I’m just making my thing and hope that people enjoy it and appreciate the stage I’m at. You can’t expect it to be anything more than it is.
WWD: What’s next, design-wise?
G.S.: With L.A.M.B., I definitely want to focus on the bags, but I’m still doing the tennis shoes. I also convinced the tennis shoe guys to make boots, and now we are doing stilettos. I’m also doing watches. You can imagine the amount of artwork and e-mails that I have to approve, so I don’t really want to take on too much. But I want to do lingerie and makeup at some point. I want to do everything, eventually.
WWD: What about baby clothes?
G.S.: It’s easy to downsize for kids and babies in Harajuku Lovers, but apart from that, I’m not going there. But we are doing some L.A.M.B. baby tennis shoes, little gold ones. You wouldn’t believe it. They are so cute. They are ridiculous.
WWD: How are you dealing with your ever-changing shape?
G.S.: I’m sick of maternity clothes, but people are really sweet. No matter how big I feel, they say, ‘Well, you look cute.’ My body’s changing every week. I’ve gained eight pounds in the last month alone, but it’s all going to be worth it. And my husband has really made me some great meals and I’ve been eating whatever I want, trying to enjoy the moment. There’s only one time it happens for the first time.
WWD: Is it hard for someone as active as you to see yourself gain weight and slow down when all you want to do is jump around?
G.S.: Well, I’m looking forward to my [post-pregnancy] diet. And then I’m going to train. But I have been working out. That’s the one thing I’ve been strict about, three days a week with a trainer. You should have seen me try to work out this morning. Oh, my God, it’s getting so hard. I do those stairs up there [pointing to the terraced steps behind her house].
WWD: What’s next, music-wise?
G.S.: I have some songs that are left over from my last record, and I wrote four new songs as I was finishing it. One of them is called “Orange County Girl,” which is one of my favorite songs ever. It’s really close to being done, but as time goes by, I might have to write some new ones to freshen it up. I went in the studio and I’ve been trying to write, but it just hasn’t come, so I’ve finally gotten to a place of guilt-free relaxation. I will try again, but now is obviously not the right time. But I want to put that record out. It would be a waste not to.
WWD: What about No Doubt?
G.S.: I’m going to go back in the studio with the band to try and see what we can do together, which is going to be a huge, weird reunion. We don’t know if we go back what kind of music we’ll write, if we can write. We just don’t know. And then, being a mom … I don’t know what’s that’s going to be like.
WWD: It seems like a very transitional time for you.
G.S.: Yes, everything is new for me right now. It’s a weird crossroads, the beginning of a lot, the closure of a lot. This is all about nesting and getting inspired. But [making a downward whooshing motion above her belly] I know one thing is coming out for sure!