Welcome to Shopping With Vogue, a series in which we sift through a fashion lover’s favorite store. For this edition, we shop with musician and author Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast at Sandy Liang.
I listen to Japanese Breakfast as I ride an electric Citi Bike from Brooklyn to meet none other than Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner in downtown Manhattan. “Savage Good Boy,” from her third album, Jubilee, is one of my favorites. Like every song of Zauner’s, it ignites a sort of longing that I didn’t realize existed since my first high school crush. In the accompanying music video, she’s playing cards, watching television, dining with The Sopranos silver fox Michael Imperioli, and strumming a mandolin, all the while dressed in deliciously baroque and rich ensembles by Gucci, Vaquera, Area, Puppets and Puppets, and Patou. She’s absolutely regal.
To top it off, Zauner is a writer. She penned the essay “Crying in H Mart” for The New Yorker about the death of her mother and her Korean heritage. After the piece went viral, she published a memoir under the same title back in April. This is all on top of shredding a guitar, releasing Jubilee in early June, and going on tour in late July. Zauner is truly our generation’s tatted, chilled-out renaissance woman, with an ornate, dreamy stage style to match.
To shop, Zauner has picked Sandy Liang on 28 Orchard Street, next to Scarr’s Pizza and the gallery Larrie. It’s a hot-spot area for dirty skaters and loafer-wearing literati. Zauner has moved to New York relatively recently and is still learning about the city. When I meet her, she greets me in a frothy Cecilie Bahnsen dress, a Sandy Liang earring, a rice-paddle necklace by Sisterfriend, and a pair of Vans. She looks like a slice of lemon cake, standing out among the clientele.
But being so boldly femme wasn’t always her style. Zauner has had a long road in the world of coming into her own in fashion. A Eugene, Oregon, native, she began playing in bands in the Philadelphia music scene while at Bryn Mawr in 2005, until she started to make it big with her own band back in 2016. In the past, she’d dress in more masculine clothes, like boys’ superhero T-shirts from Target and vintage grandpa button-ups from Goodwill. “For a long time, playing in a band, I wanted to present sort of more masculine because I felt like I had to do it in order to be taken seriously as a player and in the industry in general,” she says. “I used to have to prove to everyone that I could carry an 80-pound amp.”
As she came into her own music-wise, her look evolved. A signature Zauner look is frilly and punk, with a multilayered dress paired with combat boots or Vans. “I don’t think anyone doubts that I can play the guitar or lead a band. Now I’m able to wear a dress and tread, and that juxtaposition is really exciting to me. I don’t feel that I have to prove myself in the same way, which is really liberating.”
For her Jimmy Kimmel Live! performance in early July, she wore a baroque ivory Simone Rocha dress with a ruff collar to perform “Paprika.” The royal rock look was styled by Cece Liu, whom Zauner met through the Philly music scene and has worked with for about three years. At the time, Liu hadn’t styled talent—she mostly worked in editorial and advertising—and Zauner hadn’t worked with a stylist. “We were both kind of learning as we went,” writes Liu. “She’s really come to appreciate fashion since then and come into her own style.” Brands have been taking notice too. “In the beginning, no one would loan to us,” says Zauner. The fact that she can now count Rodarte and Rocha as big supporters is a testament to her rising popularity. “She seems to be down to get more creative the more we work together. Our first fitting, she was a bit like, ‘These looks feel so crazy! I’m not sure,’” writes Liu. “And now she is like, ‘Should we go for something crazier?’”