What’s Behind Katy Perry’s Style Shift?

When Katy Perry burst onto the scene in 2008 with her number one hit “I Kissed a Girl,” the then 23-year-old’s poppy sound became inextricable from her campy, bombshell look. Her healthy sense of kitsch has always been a part of her persona—her performance looks only underscoring that. (This is the woman whose bra squirted whipped cream in the “California Gurls” music video, after all.) But lately, Perry has undergone a sartorial shift in the lead up to new music: she teased her song “Woman’s World,” printing its lyrics on the train of a Balenciaga dress, attended the brand’s couture show topless under a black fur coat, and showed up to the premiere of Diane von Furstenberg’s documentary in an Artemisi corset top, spiky bolero, and pierced maxi skirt. Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that this aesthetic shake-up has been in the works for a while now.

NEW YORK  AUGUST 29 Katy Perry performs on NBC's Today at Rockefeller Plaza on August 29 2008 in New York City.

2008

 Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

NEW YORK  JUNE 09 Pop singer Katy Perry poses for pictures after visiting MTV's TRL on June 9 2008 at MTV Studios in New...

2008

 Gary Gershoff

Since 2018, Perry has served as a judge on American Idol, where she’s been slowly shifting her style over the last several years. Styled by Tatiana Waterford, the singer has tested out more severe looks from brands like Rick Owens, Sportmax, and Didu, while still playing it safe with the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Dolce & Gabbana. But since she left Idol in May, and in anticipation of her own new music, Perry is putting the pedal to the metal. Gone are the safe fits; she is fully committing to her new look. Over the last several weeks, she has walked in Vogue World 2024 in a racy Noir Kei Ninomiya dress, and released her “Woman’s World” cover art in a sheer Du Ciel bikini.

PARIS FRANCE  JUNE 25 Katy Perry arrives at The Ritz Hotel in a stretch limousine during the Haute Couture FallWinter...

In Balenciaga

 Neil Mockford

PARIS FRANCE  JUNE 25 Katy Perry arrives at The Ritz Hotel in a stretch limousine during the Haute Couture FallWinter...

Neil Mockford

New York City NY  Katy Perry spotted leaving her New York hotel taking time to sign autographs and take pictures with...

Wearing a shirt with “Woman’s World” lyrics

 Tatiana / BACKGRIDUSA

She isn’t the only singer who has shaken up their style recently. In anticipation of her album, C,XOXO, Camila Cabello adopted a wardrobe similar to those of hyperpop stars like Charli xcx. Perry, it seems, is doing the same. (Online, Perry has received flack for her new look, with critics proclaiming it derivative.) But while Cabello’s “I LUV IT” paid homage to the genre, it’s unclear if Perry’s new music will do the same. While we can’t say for certain, we can at least appreciate that she and Waterford are using the sartorial experiment to highlight more under-the-radar designers like La Maskarade, Du Ciel, and XI SCORPII.

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