Rosalía: Shaping Music and Art Through Costume

Art is holding the music in the shape of costume design. 

Rosalía‘s Instagram feed is a source of fashion inspiration for the younger generations with her aesthetic choices, streetwear garments, iconic golden accessories, and extreme nail art. 

Rosalía has charmed an international audience with her creativity and unique music. She is bringing her Spanish roots into international pop culture, and she is not stopping at the musical aspect. The costumes for her music videos transmit a powerful message; she creates an image of a confident and strong woman. Rosalía has come to make us fall in love with her meaningful art, bringing with her the noble cause of feminism. 

During this article, we are going to go through three of her music videos that were made for the songs named “Juro Que,” “DI MI NOMBRE,” and “A Palé.” I chose these particular videos because they are not connected; they are from three different albums to show the consistency of Rosalía’s aesthetic choices.

We start by analyzing the music video for the song called “Juro Que,” released through Sony and Columbia Records on 23th of January 2020. Fashion stylist Laura Vandall is responsible for the costume design. When I encountered this masterpiece, I immediately felt the necessity of writing about it. With strong and pure colors such as red, blue, and green, the 70’s look, and the chosen typography for the title, the music video is an attribute to Pedro Almodovar’s aesthetics. The inspiration is undeniable and gracefully executed.

Vídeo de la nueva canción de Rosalía, “Juro que”
Starting photogram from the musical video Juro Que, Rosalia 2020.

Rosalía‘s powerful presence leads the entire video. As I previously commented, during the entire video, the color palette is an Almodovar attribute. Opposite strong colors working on the set and costume design. All the costumes are monochromatic, working perfectly with the set design. 

We can appreciate the use of costume as a measure of time. While she has three costume changes, her lover is always wearing the same garments. This tool also tells the spectator about this particular character’s condition: he is in prison. She is gradually becoming a stronger character. She starts the video wearing a blouse and on top of it, a corset and a nylon sports jacket, all in pink tones. She is presented with a girly but stylish look, not childish but sexy instead, as Rosalía usually is. She is mixing styles, creating an atemporal look. We can compare this costume with the one for the video “Di Mi Nombre: (chapter 8: Extasis)

Photograms from the musical video Juro que, Rosalia 2020.

The music video “Di Mi Nombre” was released on October 30th, 2018, as the third single from her second studio album El Mal Querer, produced by Rosalía and Guincho Studio. The costume design was made by the fashion stylist Soki Mak. It reminded me of the classical telenovelas from Central America and Spain. The use of shoulder pads and a big belt on Rosalía’s waistline reflects an approach to the 70’s aesthetics. When Rosalía is in the room, surrounded by religious images, she is creating a confusing scene. She wears colors of purity, but the lyrics of the song and her movements are telling something else.

When she moves towards a new room in the house, we can see the dancers as disturbing creatures. They appear to be classical dancers, wearing pink tights, a classical and basic pink leotard, and dancer’s shoes. We can appreciate the same concept as in Rosalía’s character. The disturbing element, in this case, is the way the dancers are wearing their hair: loose and on their faces. We can conclude that these creatures represent the danger the song is narrating, the deep obscurity inside Rosalía. 

Photogram from musical video Di mi nombre, Rosalia 2018.

Rosalía’s and her team are inspired by classical art. We can appreciate the similarities between the music video’s photogram and Francisco Goya’s painting, called La Maja Vestida.

This musical video differentiates from the other two selected videos on the way it is filmed. Just one take, with the same costume during the entire song. This simplicity can trap the spectator and follow the story easily.

Let’s go back to the music video for the song “Juro Que.” During the music video, we can appreciate Rosalía’s growth, passion and love for the prisoner increases. It consumes her, and we can tell because of the contrasting colors appearing with more intensity. The next costume has yellow as the predominant color, contrasting with the green background, bringing light to the sad encounter between Rosalia and her lover. Finally, she exteriorizes her suffering and passionate love for the prisoner by wearing red in a blue surrounding. Do not forget that the red elements were present all along with the music video on the set – on the couch, lamps, curtains – she is embracing this powerful color to make a statement: 

“If you don’t get out I’ll get in

If you don’t get out I’ll get in

I’ll rob a bank tonight

And that they’ll take me to prison”

Juro que, rosalia 2020.
Photograms from the musical video Juro que, Rosalia 2020.

Finally, the last video we are analyzing is “A Palé,” released through Sony Music on November 7th, 2019. Rosalia and her sister Pilar Vila were in charge of the general aesthetic. From an visual point of view, the video is an ode to ugliness. Rosalía and her filming crew are triggering the spectator by creating a piece with odd images. Once more, Rosalia is making direct references to her origins. She is showing us her childhood landscapes of pallets (the meaning of the song’s name)

The video’s first image is a direct inspiration from another Francisco de Goya creation: A Portrait of the Duchess Alba de Tormes. Both Rosalía and fashion designer Palomo Sapin (who is responsible for the costume design of the video) “breath common elements and want to trespass frontiers through their creations,” as is perfectly stated in Vogue’s article by Tatiana Ojea.

“Since the day I was born

I carry a star

Know I don’t owe it to nobody

And it only protects me”

A palé, rosalia 2019.
A Palé»: escucha aquí la nueva canción de Rosalía
Photogram from the musical video A palé, Rosalia 2019.

A change of rhythm in the song takes us to the next scene. Now, we are at the center of a mass production fabric. Everything is clean, with a cream color palette. The estrangement feeling appears when we see Rosalia from a closer shot when we can appreciate the characteristic of Frida Kahlo’s unibrow and the golden teeth. 

The third scene is creating a dream-like image with the costume. We are in an open industrial space in the middle of the night. Rosalia is running, letting the beautiful and soft fabric of her dress dance behind her too. With this dress, she becomes a mythical creature of the night, flying around the industrial space. 

The last scene has a nude palette, with a costume that reminds us of the Kardashian’s aesthetics, but without loosing the connection to the fabric and the mass production concept. The dancer’s costume is bringing texture to the screen. The workers became part of the fabric; they are the material, and they are the product that is being produced.

Photogram from the musical video A palé, Rosalia 2019.

Last Reflections

Before finalizing the article, I would like to bring to light the title of costume designers for music videos. While I was researching to this piece, I often read the stylist concept instead of a costume designer. We cannot deny the existing connection between the world of music and the world of fashion. But do not forget, the music video is an audiovisual product that serves the purpose of representing the music and helping the spectator interpreting the song’s essence. It is not only the musicians’ brand represented, but it is also about creating characters of a different world that needs to be compressed into less than 5 minutes. Costume designers need to be properly named and credited in music videos.


Reference List

https://doblejeinforma.wixsite.com/dobleje/post/la-inspiración-estética-de-rosal%C3%ADa

https://www.vogue.es/moda/articulos/rosalia-a-pale-videoclip-referencias

https://www.vogue.es/celebrities/galerias/rosalia-vila-look-estilo-marcas

https://www.josetiradoad.com/ROSALIA-Juro-que

https://www.harpersbazaar.com/es/cultura/ocio/a24439735/rosalia-nueva-cancion-videoclip-di-mi-nombre/

http://repositori.uji.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10234/184990/TFG_2019_VillaescusaLage_Carmen.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

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