Style Files: Zola Jesus Uses Jewelry as A Weapon

By Courtney E. Smith

For Zola Jesus, fashion is a weapon. More specifically, her jewelry. It’s not just a fashion statement that makes her feel better about her outfit: it makes her feel stronger in the world.

“Every day, because I am such a small woman, every day when I walk outside I feel vulnerable,” she told, while talking about her maximalist silver jewelry. “Because I’m so small, I feel helpless. Something as minimal as these rings make me feel a little bit tougher.”

Nika Roza Danilova is referring to the bands that cross her entire fist, creating a thin silver shield. She has matched them with silver cuffs, straight drop earrings and a dress and shoes by designer Rick Owens.

“I really like Rick Owens and that’s a lot of what I’m wearing,” she said. “I like that he uses layers and shapes. He really designs for the woman’s body. I’m five feet tall, but I have curves. I like that he doesn’t make me feel like I can’t have them.”

What she doesn’t say about his curve-hugging designs that is that they, along with his menswear collection, have become a cornerstone in the hip hop community. Owens has been name checked in songs by Jay Z, A$AP Rocky and Rick Ross as well as a designer of choice for Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. Owens mixes a grungy, street-wise vibe with glamour and unusual cuts that can sometimes appear to be influenced by a view of the nihilist near future (think Mad Max but clean and with elegant fabrics). It’s a vision that meshes well with Danilova’sĀ aesthetic overall.

On her new album, however, she says she’s been influenced by recording in the wilderness of the Northwest not only sonically but visually.

“I like the idea of working with natural materials in a way that feels artificial or man-made,” she said.” For my record cover, I have a wooden neck piece that my stylist Jenni Hensler made. She made it in a way that she had to use wood that was pliable. We could contort it in a way that didn’t feel natural.”



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