Lorde’s new Solar Power era has been defined, aesthetically, by the colour yellow.
She wears a yellow top by New Zealand brand Georgia Alice on the album cover. Her canary yellow ensemble by New York-based brand Collina Strada in the Solar Power video was a blast of colour against the surf, sky and sand.
And she’s worn different shades of yellow for all of her performances so far (including a dress by Aussie Christoper Esber for her recent GMA appearance).
It makes sense: yellow is positive, cheerful, optimistic, jubilant, summer; all of the words that have been used to describe Lorde’s new album and state of mind. Yellow is a bold statement; the confident antithesis of her teen goth cherry-black lipstick gathering dust in a drawer.
(And yes, it’s also a quite literal interpretation of sunny ‘solar power’.)
But it’s a very different type of garment that’s caught my eye, a homespun symbol of Ella’s content and introspective new era: an adorable hand knitted bonnet.
Last week Lorde sent out one of her regular ‘bulletins’, or newsletters, this time to Kiwi subscribers only; writing on this “f*cking shitter” of a lockdown and reflecting on last years’ and how they influenced her approach to the new album.
She’d written most of it by March 2020, and she wasn’t having any ideas in the months and lockdowns that followed. What she was doing was walking for two or three hours a day around Tāmaki Makaurau's Herne Bay, Westmere, the Viaduct, Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road, Newton Road, past Golf Warehouse; a uniquely Auckland experience.
“Like everyone else, lockdown brought up a bunch of crazy mental health shit for me,” she wrote. “At home I’d feel emo, trapped, bad about my body, but on these long aimless walks I could feel the sun on my face and the cold clear air pumping in and out of my lungs, my legs pushing me forward, and it felt like the hypothesis of this weird thing I’d made was being reinforced, that going outside was medicine, or powerful magic, or something. I’d come back down the road to my house feeling like I’d taken care of myself.”
She shared selfies from some of those walks, including one outside a distinctly inner city suburb villa, her head and ears wrapped up tight in a cosy wee bonnet.
I’m pretty sure Lorde’s bonnet is by Harry Were, who is part of her coterie of creative Kiwi ‘dream girl’ friends (the pair went to Antarctica together, with Harry capturing the journey on film in her typical lo-fi, warm and soulful way).
As well as working as a photographer, Harry runs a business working with local makers, offering jewellery, dresses and knits. It’s all very handcrafted and wholesome, and deliberately local.
Her $190 “lockdown bonnets” for adult heads are made to order and “hand knitted by Tricia” using organic merino and Romney wool from sheep who live in Central Otago.
It is a delightfully unexpected accessory, directly referencing childhood nostalgia and inspired by vintage bonnets worn by literal babies. Think of it as a weirder take on the knitted or crochet hat trend of late, but one that is infinitely more soothing.
The warm embrace of wool is also the kind of sartorial comfort we need right now, as our lives get smaller in lockdown once more. Crank the volume on Solar Power, pull on your bonnet and, as Harry instructs, “Pull tighter for more of a head hug”.