St. Vincent Has Crafted a Magnificent Mythology on Her Own Terms

Annie Clark is back with her fourth and biggest album

Yet, true to her paradoxical nature, there's still something profound about her more pedestrian endeavors. At one point, our conversation inexplicably turns to high school sports; when I explain how water polo is played, she responds, eyes wide in amused disbelief: "We distract ourselves from death in so many creative ways."

A week after our meeting at the Standard, Clark and her band are on a very different stage. This one is in Tribeca, at design house Spring Studios, on the occasion of Diane von Furstenberg's Fashion Week show. At the back of the runway, off to the side, St. Vincent and her trio occupy a small platform against a wild backdrop of black and white. It could have been the light before, but her hair — wild again — is definitely lavender at the roots now, and she's traded her gold vinyl frock for a short black wrap dress. Instead, the models are in metallics; as they begin parading looks down the platform, the band opens up and plays a few songs as accompaniment to their strut. While most eyes are on the women sashaying past, Clark performs Parson's choreography through the two or three songs that soundtrack the show, and at the end the models and von Furstenberg take their bows and dance to St. Vincent.

A few minutes after the show concludes, Clark and the band move to a larger stage in a members-only lounge, where high-threshold credit-card holders cluster to watch a live stream of the show projected on a white wall. Everyone is young and dressed as relevantly as possible; supermodel Coco Rocha is here. Now, as guests sip pink cocktails and regale each other with tales of Fashion Week shows past, St. Vincent and Co. rev up again, under deep blue and violet lights. There is no pink throne here tonight, but a small platform takes its place, and as St. Vincent moves back and forth between the edge of the stage and the back, she and her bandmates perform their robotic choreography just as methodically as they did at rehearsal.

Renata Raksha
Timothy Fadek

Only now there's a spark in Clark's angular joints. Where the robotic moves were truly dead-eyed as she trained, that dance seems just slightly bigger, pumped with the kind of understated adrenaline that historically has preceded fearless leaps into crowds. Of course she doesn't jump, but as she gazes out into the sea of cocktail dresses and tailored blazers, many of whom have probably never heard of St. Vincent, her eyes flicker.

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