Maybe it’s because we spoke around 6 p.m. on a Friday, but Katy Perry starts our call about her footwear line, Katy Perry Collections, on a surprising note. As proud as she is of her latest collection and newfound 100 percent ownership of the company, what’s really on her mind is the weekend, which she planned to spend “doing a little decompression” with her fiancé, Orlando Bloom. He’s about to return from a trip to the Ukrainian border of Moldova with UNICEF, and Perry is eager to share statistics on Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. Per the United Nations, for example, one child nearly every second has been displaced from their home country in the month since Russia declared war. “[Bloom]’s a much better human than I in that capacity,” she says of using her platform to shine a light on social issues. “He’s kind of got that hero vibe.”
It feels odd to move on to something as delightfully lighthearted as a campy, beach-inspired collection of shoes adorned with starfish, banana, and clamshell motifs. But we quickly agree: there has to be a balance when things get dark. “I mean, the world has got a lot of variety in it,” Perry says. “There’s so much going on, and some of it is good and some of it is bad. Some of it is fun, some of it is consumer-based, and some of it is creative. That’s what the Katy Perry Collection footwear is—it’s a little personality piece.” And if there’s anything the pop star knows how to do—especially when it comes to fashion—it’s having fun. Here, she shares how she went from a busker who got by reselling thrift store finds to a “true CEO boss ass bitch”—plus her secret to sourcing top-notch vintage.
Why did you decide to take full ownership of KPC?
I was doing a co-venture, a true 50/50 with Global Brands Group. They were helping me with the manufacturing and the distribution; I wanted to learn the business. I've been in the music business for 15-plus years, but the fashion business is a whole different animal. I can’t just like clothes and then expect to be successful—and I wanted to be successful. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it through the Covid-ness of it all, and they basically just said to me, “Katy Perry Collections can fade away into obscurity or you can buy the brand back.” And I was like, “Wow, this is going to be expensive, and a big dice roll. And I’m going to roll the dice, again, on my life—as I do.” And I’m feeling great because I’ve become that true CEO boss ass bitch that I want to be and that I talk about.
What was your style like when you were in your teens?
Well, I’m somewhat of an extrovert. I wanted to get seen, to always have a unique presentation, but I was always on the shoestring budget. When I first started, I was literally singing at farmer’s markets with my guitar case open and making $20-40 tops. I would take that and go to the thrift stores, trying to look for the most unique, vintage, cool, funky, weird, wacky, looks and patterns. A muumuu from the ’70s that I could recut, or a cardigan with pearl buttons—[a] hodgepodge I would [use to] create an identity for myself. I was all about personality pieces.
Do you have any particularly memorable finds?
When I first got to L.A., I went to the The Council Shop thrift store and found these ballet flats from the ’80s that [were shaped like] a Dalmatian dog. They had ears and a tongue that would flap out at the point of the shoe, and they created so much conversation in my life. I would get stopped at the bar, in the street. Every meeting I took in my late teens and my twenties, everybody was like, “Where did you get...?” This was when it was still hard to find such incredible personality pieces.
How do you feel about rewearing statement pieces?
Oh, well, that’s what The RealReal is for, isn’t it? [Laughs.]
Do you have an account?
Or you could join Depop.
That’s what makes the Depops and RealReals so great. For me, the first ones were Crossroads and a store on Melrose called Wasteland. I would sell all these cool finds from thrift stores, which is how I made my spending money for the week in my mid-twenties. I do so much giving away of clothing to my friends, and I eventually will probably [do the same] with my own daughter. So I’m not trying to hold onto everything, but, yes, I have a lot of clothes. [Laughs.]
If you could grab one thing from your closet right now, what would it be?
I’m not going to grab anything concerning clothes. I’m going to grab jewelry, pictures, and pets. Everything else in the world I can look at a photo of. I’m not like Elizabeth Taylor—although I love her—but I love a little vintage piece [of jewelry], and I love a little storytelling.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
No, because I think it [has all] represented me at the time and the age. I’ve worn a lot of weird ass things, but they’ve always brought me joy. Would I wear some of them again? I mean, when I go out and go to the Met [Gala] or I’m in a costume for some event, I don’t really wear it again because it’s had that moment. Has everything been A+? Well, I guess that’s subjective. Some people love it, some people are like, “What the fuck?,” and that’s fine.
Was there anything you ever doubted wearing before it caused such a stir?
No, not really. But I will say anything that doesn’t fit well doesn’t feel good, and people can tell. I’m a real stickler about tailoring, because the truth is, when you see all of those commercials with, let’s say, Gap or Old Navy or another affordable brand, they look really nice and expensive. A lot of that is because the clothes are nicely tailored to fit that person’s body—and someone has used a steamer. If you add a little TLC to any of your clothes, they can look 100 times better than they do on just any rack.
What are you wearing right now, and why did you decide to wear it?
I’m wearing a utilitarian denim oversized jean onesie from Citizens of Humanity that I got when I was in Aspen, and a hat and sandals. I’m doing meetings in between seeing my daughter, so it’s very much a workday, not trying to go out in the world and win attention. Usually, quite honestly, I’m in an Adidas tracksuit, very normal street or sportswear, because I have to get a lot of stuff done.
What do you always keep in your bag?
My vitamins, my lip gloss, and a magazine so that when my brain fries on my phone, I can reposition my head for a minute. The two I have subscriptions to, that I really care about, are The Economist and AD [Architectural Digest]. An aesthetic and a world moment, you know?
Do you have a favorite fashion moment from pop culture—something like Britney and Justin Timberlake matching in all denim?
I tried to recreate that once with Versace for the MTV Awards, so of course I loved that. I like anyone with a bold look, who is sporting their individual style. And anything that Cher wore in the ‘70s to any of those award shows, the Bob Mackie, is still very, very iconic, and still so beautiful to this day.
Have you started thinking about what you’re going to wear to the next Met Gala?
I’m in [the] process, and then Vogue announced that the theme had a category within a category and it was like, “Okay,” and we pivoted. It’s not as obvious, more of a subtle nod to the theme. It doesn’t always have to be like Halloween, although I love a very... like, when they said “camp,” I was like, Got it, let’s go!
Is there anyone you think has been killing it, style-wise, as of late?
Oh, god, I’m not really even paying attention to anyone besides my daughter—she kills it. And what’s her name, who’s so hot, so cute, on that TV show about the hotel?
White Lotus? Sydney Sweeney?
Did you have a style icon growing up?
Chloë Sevigny has such an amazing presentation every time. Even her street style is super cool. When I was in my late teens, early 20s, I was just like, “Oh, my God, she’s my favorite.”
Are there any emerging designers you have your eye on?
Everybody loves LaQuan Smith right now, that’s very obvious, but I’ve been into him for a couple of years. I just wore Windowsen on Saturday Night Live and I thought that was really fun.
What are your favorite places to shop for day-to-day?
Moda [Operandi]’s my favorite, because it’s kind of a combination of sophisticated and edgy. I love, like, a Neiman’s one-stop shop. I love H.Lorenzo, Amazon, Etsy. You should see my 1stDibs folders. It’s a lot. It is w-w-wild. I have Loris Azzaro dresses, 1990s agnès b., 1991 Yves Saint Laurent. I’ve got ’90s Alaïa, Todd Oldham, 1980s Yamamoto Kabuki. Comme des Garçons. Christian Dior. Gucci from the ’70s. Patrick Kelly! Nobody even remembers [him].
Mhm. But they were more accessible. I’m looking, I’m looking...how about Leonard Paris? Guy Laroche, oh my god! Thierry Mugler, vintage, and vintage Hermès. Issey Miyaki from the ’80s. Christian Lacroix. Louis Verdad. I mean, I go deep on 1stDibs. I've got a whooooole vibe.