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The Independent (UK)
Saturday, October 19, 2002

How Do I Look?

Tori Amos

"PEOPLE THINK of singer-songwriters as rather fey, folksy creatures, so my stylist Karen and I try to keep my stage clothes quite sharp and contemporary. We're always updating my look - maybe a slashed Alexander McQueen trouser suit, maybe a vintage dress. The same outfits don't always translate across different mediums, so what works on camera may not work across a stadium with 15,000 people. If the sleeves are too flowing, for example, I can look like an upside-down bat at the piano. And if I walk into a small room to do an interview in something very glitzy, you guys will think, 'She's got a little too much time on her hands.' We're jokingly calling my look for the next tour Apocalyptic Pocahontas'.

"The new album is a musical road trip across America - sometimes very dark and sinister, with many different crossroads to choose from. The main character, Scarlet, is literally a thread of colour running through the landscape. We filmed the video for the single in Montana, and I think Ali McGraw was a real inspiration. First, because she represents a radical time, and second, because she wasn't an obvious sex symbol. She was modest in the way she dressed. I like modesty, that's where I am. I think you can be sensual without showing too much. To me that's more radical because it's about what goes on underneath. I'm pretty shy; maybe it's my mixed Celtic/Cherokee heritage. As a musician, of course, I write down the most intimate things and say them to lots of people. On stage, I'm shedding so much emotionally, but physically that's where I draw the line.

"For my last album, Strange Little Girls, I covered famous songs by men from Lou Reed to Eminem, but from a woman's perspective. Karen and I spent days discussing each woman's back story and what they would wear. Then we enlisted the photographer Thomas Schenk and the late, great make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin to make these women come alive for the cover.

"Back home in Cornwall, England, I'm a bit of a librarian. Karen teases me that I'm the girl who dresses for necessity - if it's cold outside, I get a sweater. But, you know, I can be comfortable and still feel good. We don't have to be ashamed of expressing style when the doors are closed. I can still be schlepping around in something cute. I love curling up, reading my books, the make-up is off... But then when my husband walks in the room, well, I want to feel womanly.

"I like a touch of glamour. It helps people dream, even if it's a shimmer, a sparkle, a moment. My mother was always very stylish. She was a Methodist minister's wife and I think they tried to beat it out of her. But there was something in her that loved clothes. She adored Audrey Hepburn. When the doors were closed, and my father went off to work, she would put on a little Audrey Hepburn skirt and take out her records and play them for me. I've still got that fantasy of the pencil skirt and beautiful shoes.

"Maybe there was a time when I wasn't feeling so great about myself, like in 1997 when I had a cycle of miscarriages, and it was just,' Oh, put anything on.' My body had betrayed me and I wasn't feeling like a woman. There was no nurturing. Now I have my daughter Natashya and I want to be good to myself. And, you know, when you're in a relationship for a while, you can stop making an effort. You have to try harder. I mean none of us likes chopped liver.

"If I'm having a bad day, I buy shoes, because it's terra firma, feet on the ground. And best of all, they get you out of a tight spot and on to the next place. In fact, in my new video, there's a love affair between my character, Scarlet, and the actor Adrien Brody. He falls in love with my Sergio Rossi button shoe. When the two characters finally make love, they create limbs, not babies. But that's another story.

"Hand on heart, I dress for women, it's a respect level that we have with each other. I think there are a lot of women like me who are modest. I don't want to show my navel. It's a private thing. It's not a free show for everybody when I walk in a room. My body is my prize, it's all I've got. And my husband gets the prize at the end of the night."

Tori Amos's new single, A Sorta Fairytale', and album, Scarlet's Walk', are released on Epic Records on 28 October


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