Over the course of her young career, 23-year-old singer, rapper, and performance artist Destiny Frasqueri has already embodied a multitude of different personas. First, using the moniker Wavy Spice, Frasqueri became a critical darling on the blogosphere on the strength of strange, frenetic tracks like “Bitch I’m Posh” and “YAYA,” a thumping ode to her indigenous Caribbean ancestry. Then, in 2014, as part of a collaborative project known as Princess Nokia, she released Metallic Butterfly — a glitchy, cyberpunk-influenced LP reminiscent of fellow underground stalwarts Mykki Blanco, Ratking, and Le1f.
But now, with her most recent mixtape, Honeysuckle, Frasqueri has finally begun releasing music under her own name, trading in much of her synthesized futurism for classic funk, soul, and disco vibes. And just as the years have seen an evolution in her musicianship and artistry, so too has her personal style matured with each new project.
“I think when I was a bit younger I dressed very loud and very industrial. I was really inspired by rave culture,” Frasqueri tells The Seen. In addition to writing and performing music, she also leads an arts collective called Smart Girl Club and occasionally models for Calvin Klein. “Sometimes I’ll still wear that kind of stuff because it’s a real personal thing to me. But as I’ve grown, I feel like my style’s gotten so much more polished and I kind of have more of a distinct look now.”
Born and raised in Manhattan, Frasqueri bounced between East Harlem and the Lower East Side before landing in the Bronx, where she currently resides. Uptown, she was exposed to the gold chains, hoop earrings, and fresh Nikes of the late Nineties and early Aughts. But downtown it was punk rock, skate culture, and the cybergoth circus of St. Marks Place that sparked her imagination.
Remnants of Frasqueri’s eclectic past lives are still present in her aesthetic, but today the artist describes her style as more “minimalist” and “muted,” a nostalgic look that continues to incorporate flair from Santería culture and her own Afro-Latina heritage.
“I’m very aware of different styles and subcultures, so I’m kind of a whole mix,” she explains. “If I’m like, ‘Oh, this is the look I want to serve, the look I want to give,’ I have a reference. More than anything, I think they’re all styles that reference historical moments in my life.”
The Good Company
97 Allen Street
Founded by Bay Area transplant Kumasi Sadiki and his friends Kahim Smith and Quinn Arneson, the Good Company is a trendy menswear boutique tucked away on Allen Street that carries a slew of affordable T-shirts, hoodies, hats, and zines. “They’ve got a lot of streetwear and sportswear pieces, a lot of skate-inspired stuff,” Frasqueri says. “They’re a really cool store on the Lower East Side that a lot of my friends shop at, that a lot of the young kids go to.”
Sadiki is the man behind the FreedMinds — a label popularized by rapper Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future — and the shop keeps a heavy rotation of young, up-and-coming streetwear brands, including one of Frasqueri’s favorites, Dertbag Design.
Though Cheeba’s Goods has yet to open a brick-and-mortar storefront in New York City, the online thrift shop — which prides itself on catering to “the avant-garde individual who isn’t afraid to throw on layers of patterns” — has hosted three pop-up events in Harlem and the Bronx since launching this summer. All of the store’s items are handpicked by its owner and generally range from just $10 to $30.
“They have the best original jackets and clothes and shoes; you can go get some really nice pieces,” Frasqueri says, adding that she appreciates the fact that Cheeba’s is a local, female-run business. “Just like the Good Company, it’s some ill local streetwear. Kind of the same thing, but for girls.”
The next Cheeba’s Goods pop-up shop will take place on Sunday, November 29, from 3 to 9 p.m. at 876 Gerard Avenue in the Bronx.
Polo Ralph Lauren Flagship Store
711 Fifth Avenue
Despite Ralph Lauren’s reputation for all things preppy and Polo, in the late Eighties and Nineties the designer’s wares were adopted as the uniform of the Lo-Lifes — a gang born of some of the harshest housing projects in Brooklyn, which derived its name from the second syllable in Polo — and quickly became a mainstay of hip-hop fashion. The legendary brand’s first flagship store dedicated to the Polo label launched last year on Fifth Avenue in tandem with a new Polo Women’s collection.
“I just love the Lo-Life era, and I’m all about being comfortable in a sweatsuit and jacket,” Frasqueri explains. “It’s very reminiscent of that Puerto Rican swag.
“New York has inspired my style so much,” she adds. “And I feel like that’s very New York. Lo-Life, X-Girl, those are the kind of references I go to.”
The Salvation Army Family Store
Combing through thrift shops is practically a time-honored tradition in New York City. But as it’s become increasingly trendy (not to mention expensive) to shop for the vintage and the funky around the five boroughs, old standbys like the Salvation Army still hold some of the best bargains. Though Frasqueri’s favorite location, on 125th Street in Harlem, recently closed, the charity organization continues to operate outposts in Chinatown, Gramercy, and Greenwich Village, among other neighborhoods. “It’s the perfect thrift shop,” Frasqueri says. “You can find just about anything pertaining to every style. They’re the cheapest clothes and it’s just a good vibe.”
274 Lafayette Street
For decades, Supreme has been an undeniable staple of streetwear, skate culture, and hypebeastdom around the globe. The lines for each new release at the store typically stretch around the block, with loyal fans in London, Paris, Tokyo, and Los Angeles trying desperately to get their hands on the day’s much buzzed-about, limited-edition drop. But as brands and boutiques come and go in New York City, the company’s original storefront on Lafayette Street — even some 21 years after it first opened its doors — remains a go-to for stylish tees, sneakers, sweatshirts, and undergarments. “I like their underwear; I like their socks; I just like their gear a lot,” Frasqueri says. “That’s just a classic brand.”
[This is part of the winter 2015 edition of The Seen, a quarterly style supplement by the Village Voice devoted to exploring and sharing the most dynamic elements of New York City’s fashion and design worlds, from the iconic to the as yet undiscovered. Check out the rest of The Seen’s featured stories here.]