Celebrity Style

Florence Welch Channeled ‘Folk Horror Fairy-Tale’ Style On Tour

Lillie Eiger

Singer Florence Welch has been traveling the globe since April this year for her English indie-rock band Florence + The Machine’s Dance Fever tour. The album (the band’s fifth release, released in May) explores Welch’s relationship with movement—an interesting concept given it was recorded during the height of the pandemic, when live performances came to a halt. Her favorite part of touring, then, has been being able to reconnect with audiences and dance again. “I’ve just loved it,” Welch tells Vogue. “For an album so much about performance—the pull of it, the loss of it—to get to finally perform it live is truly a profound experience.”

The singer wanted the feel of this tour to be entirely different from her past ones, so she began with an eerily beautiful set. “The album itself is a kind of folk horror fairytale, so we wanted to create something that almost felt like a haunted house or a sunken ship,” says Welch. “Faded and rotting grandeur was very important. We pulled a lot of references from Great Expectations’s Satis House, the mansion where Miss Havisham lived.” The end result was a striking stage display with haunting chandeliers. “[Stage designer] Es Devlin and I looked at a lot of holy reliquaries, and imagined what they would look like if they had been at the bottom of the sea for a hundred years collecting barnacles. Which is where this ‘sunken cathedral’ reference came from.”

Lillie Eiger

To riff off the vibe of the set, Welch’s tour wardrobe had a similar dark, romantic feel. She wanted her fashion on stage to reflect her songs and lyrics, albeit in a more theatrical way. “The iconic costumes for Lucy Westenra from Bram Stoker’s Dracula were a big influence,” says Welch of her looks. “Again, fairy tales and horror have been a big part of the references. Something beautiful but bedraggled. Trailing lace, embellishment, crowns, vampiric capes. This is a very theatrical album, so it gave us a lot of room to play.”

To bring that vision to life, Welch enlisted Gucci’s Alessandro Michele to conjure up the designs. It was a natural fit, given Welch has served as a muse to the designer before, and Welch says they share a similar approach to stage wear. “Alle just knows how to dress my body at this point,” says Welch. “The dresses add so much to the performance, while always giving me freedom to move. And Gucci really dove into the fairytale with us.” He created pieces such as lace-trimmed maxi dresses, or ruffled gowns in sheer lilac. “I loved the chokers and the sequined embroidery,” she says. “This is the most detail we have ever had on stage outfits, and I’m so grateful to Gucci for all the time and love they have put into them.”

Lillie Eiger

Outside of this particular album, movement has always been important to Welch, who is known for her twirling on-stage. As such, her performance costumes have to be practical. “I used to perform in suits, as I like invoking masculinity in my performances, but honestly I just can’t move as well in trousers,” says Welch. “As the show started to involve more and more contemporary dance, dresses became the only option for freedom of movement. So, I had to create masculinity through energy rather than clothes.” She adds Michele’s ethereal dresses were perfect for the tour. “You need something that is going to create romance and power,” she says. “And to be flattering no matter how you are throwing yourself around up there.”

As she continues touring through the end of the year, Welch will likely debut a few more new Gucci looks on stage. She says it’s already been her favorite tour to date. “From the stage to the clothes, to the looks that the crowd are showing up in,” says Welch. “Maybe it’s something about the theatricality of this album. But it really feels like the audience feel free to express themselves in their outfits, too. We’ve had people dressed as vampires, demon brides, Midsomer flower cults, and holy relics. No matter how tired I am, I now always look forward to seeing what everyone is wearing.”

Below, more photos from Welch’s Dance Fever tour.

This article was originally published on Vogue.com

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