There’s no defining Kali Uchis. After releasing her self-produced 2012 debut Drunken Babble, the 23-year-old Colombian-born artist (real name Karly Laoiza) caught the attention of Tyler, The Creator and Major Lazer. Though the soulful and jazz-inflected delivery of her music has led NME to dub her the “West Coast Amy Winehouse,” the title doesn’t acknowledge the Latin influences that permeate her sound.
Her striking approach to style is rife with pastel pinks and ’60s Edie Sedgwick glamor, but has a contemporary L.A. toughness that is all her own. As a writer, producer, performer and director, Uchis controls every creative element driving her artistic persona forward, and the results have paid off — her 2015 studio project, Por Vida, features production from names like Kaytranada and Diplo, she’s released a single with Vince Staples, and she’s collaborating with fellow Colombian artist Juanes on his upcoming album.
Below are five of her greatest style moments so far.
Uchis lives her best inner carefree ’70s California girl life for her “Rush” music video. The Kaytranada and BADBADNOTGOOD-produced track from her Por Vida mixtape is a groovy, happy-go-lucky tune best visualized through psychedelic tie-dye pools and vintage roller skates. Uchis and her girls dance and drive around the sunny California canyons as she wears a cutout one-piece with rainbows and deep-red running shorts.
Beach Goth Festival
On Oct. 23, Kali Uchis performed at the 2016 Beach Goth Festival in Santa Ana, California. She stunned in a crystal bikini top and dark high-wasted denim. Her accessories included her signature white frame glasses with rose lens (which you can purchase here), huge silver hoops, and a gothic, crystal cross choker. She even had a silver chain belt with bedazzled letters spelling Kali sparkling on her waist.
This hazy, sensual, and melancholy video depicts Kali Uchis as her most Kali Uchis: pastel pink from her hair to her feathered robe. The blue and pink neon signs of the drive-in diner complement her exaggerated blue-tinted sunglasses and ’60s club-girl eyeliner. “I was inspired by mermaids, callgirls, the actress Mia Farrow, the film Scarface and the director Quentin Tarantino,” the singer told Dazed and Confused about the visuals.
Hunger Magazine – Nadia Lee Cohen Photo Shoot and Video
Back in April, Hunger magazine published an exclusive Kali Uchis feature by photographer and filmmaker Nadia Lee Cohen. The stills are creative and fun, following Kali Uchis in tinted ’70s aviator sunglasses, glossy lipliner, electric-blue eyeliner wings, and her hair in light-pink Barbie curls. She holds money, pouts with a cigarette, and fusses into a golden phone wearing a satin yellow 2nd Skin Co. dress and belt. Super Hollywood and very Uchis.
This self-directed music video for her Por Vida track takes us back to Kali Uchis’ childhood neighborhood in Colombia. Though she spent her formative years in Virginia, the streets, characters and clothes in this clip echo an identity close to her heart. Alongside the baller fur coat and zebra-print miniskirt ensemble, Uchis represents her heritage and aesthetic with swagger. She flips the damsel in distress narrative, abandoning her pink silky robe at home to gamble in knee-high lace-up boots and lead a parade down her street in a crop top inspired by traditional Colombian festive attire.