On Friday afternoon, a few hours before she and her Black Eyed Peas bandmates were due to take the stage in Central Park for a concert to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation, Fergie was high above the park in a hotel room. The rescheduled show had originally been planned for early June but was canceled at the last minute because of a severe thunderstorm. Dressed in a black Calvin Klein Collection cocktail dress (the brand also outfitted her for the show’s after party) and neon green high heels (from her own collection, a handler noted), the singer was enthusiastic about a second shot. She took a few moments from her pregame ritual to chat with WWD about the reengineered Great Lawn show, her style cues and those persistent Black Eyed Peas breakup rumors.
WWD: There are 60,000 people expected tonight. What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played in front of?
Fergie: Well, I know we did in front of one million people on Ipanema beach in Rio [de Janeiro] one year. It was just the whole beach. Miles and miles of people jumping. And because of the echo…the jumping was like a wave. It was wonderful. But I guess they don’t allow that anymore on New Year’s because there’s so many people and it’s a safety issue. So that was a wonderful concert that I don’t know will ever happen again. But it was pretty amazing.
WWD: Do you…
Fergie: But 60,000 people! I’m hoping, I’m praying for no lightning. If lightning strikes twice, I mean, wow.
WWD: How far along were you last time when this was supposed to happen?
Fergie: We were a go. Backstage. And then they canceled it. Then it was back on, so I turned the whole car around. And then we just ended up [with] a lot of the Robin Hood donors. We took pictures with them, we did meet and greets with them and their kids. We’re just so appreciative. It was really disappointing for me. I was going to get to perform with Debbie Harry and Taylor Swift [and] Carole King!… So it was a dream that didn’t get to happen. I had called Debbie a while later and she couldn’t do this show.…A lot of people don’t know what an inspiration she is to me.
WWD: Were you a Blondie fan growing up?
Fergie: Oh yeah. Huge. And I always could kind of relate with a girl being one of the boys, one of the guys, touring. She was such a great artist to cross over from the punk rock scene into hip-hop. So I could relate a lot with that, just having an eclectic taste in music myself. I even did my hair for a while, which a lot of people didn’t understand. I did dark roots. My hair’s actually ashy blonde, but I wanted there to be more defined roots. It was [an] homage to Debbie Harry. But I wore it to the Teen Choice Awards and nobody really got it. They thought I just needed to get my roots done.
WWD: Has the style criticism, and the closer attention paid to your style as you’ve become more of a public figure, ever irked you?
Fergie: No. I’ve always been a risk taker and I own what I wear. There’s times when I look back and say, ‘What was I thinking?’ But walking out the door, I make sure that I’m confident and that I’m owning what I’m wearing. It doesn’t mean that everybody else has to wear it the way I wore it, or that everyone has to like it.
WWD: Is that something you had to learn or is that something you always felt?
Fergie: Ahhh…I’ve probably felt it at times when I shouldn’t have felt it but that’s OK. That’s OK. Fashion is fun for me. I don’t take it that seriously. I love it, but it’s fun. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s creative. I’m a creator.
WWD: Will there be any of those special guests tonight?
Fergie: We weren’t able to get the guests that we had last time. It was really hard because all of those were dream performances for me, collaborations. Especially me as a woman. I was going to sing “Natural Woman” with Carole King! Rehearsals were great. It was magical. You know you can’t fight Mother Nature. We would have gone on, but the city said “Lightning: We cannot go on.”
WWD: You guys have been saying that this will be the last of you we’ll see for a while after these summer shows.
Fergie: I know. You know, we haven’t taken this break yet that everyone keeps saying. We’re not on a break yet.
WWD: So what’s going on?
Fergie: The day before Thanksgiving in Miami will be our last show before the break. But we’re still going to Asia. We’re going to Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, where [band member] Apl is from. Brazil. Paraguay. All of these places we’re going before Thanksgiving.
WWD: So what’s bringing on the hiatus?
Fergie: I needed a break. As a female, I just want to balance out my life and it’s time. I’ve been touring, pretty much, since 2003 — the beginning of 2003, when I joined the band.
WWD: You’re getting along with the guys in the band still?
Fergie: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re my brothers. We’re family. There’s nothing that’s wrong there. You know, touring and being in hotels every day and not being home.…I want to do more nesting.