There are some moments in which you are able to feel the stars align, and a few weeks ago while covering the fashion trends at Pitchfork Music Festival, I had one. There was a group of women in yellow jumpsuits who caught my eye. The suits were not flashy but there was something about them that said to me “Man, that’s swaggy.” Naturally, I went up and asked them if I could take their photo for HFL. After the shots, we had a chance to talk more in-depth, and they informed that they were actually the dancers with one of the main performers we were there to see, Madame Gandhi.
Madame Gandhi is a woman of many talents: Georgetown grad, Harvard MBA, worked at Interscope, drummer for M.I.A., feminist, and recently dropped her own solo EP “Voices.” Her EP recently received critical acclaim when her song “The Future is Female” climbed to #8 on the Spotify Top 50 US Viral Charts in the weeks following the Women’s March on January 21st, 2017. She is the essence of what is the millennial generation by being educated, creative, outspoken, and artistic all at the same time. Below we speak with the talented artist about whom she feels she truly is, how fashion can enhance female empowerment and her fashion icons.
High Fashion Living: Who is Madame Gandhi?
Madame Gandhi: Madame Gandhi is the alter ego of Kiran Gandhi. She owns her voice; she is assertive, she leads from her femininity, she is loving, she is thoughtful, she is caring. Her power is in her vulnerability and her ability to access her emotional strength. She weaves her ideas of sex, positivity, gender liberation, and music all into one. She is the person I am always aspiring to be.
She is a call to action for everybody to be the best version of themselves.
High Fashion Living: You are an outspoken feminist who celebrates the female voice. How do you feel fashion enhances or restricts female empowerment?
Madame Gandhi: Fashion has the potential to enhance the empowerment of all people. It is a form of self-expression. Second of all, it is a form of comfort and how comfortable you are in your own skin, in your own outfit, and your own day.
My favorite part of my day is before I get my iced coffee when I get a chance to look at my clothing rack and decide what I’m going to wear for the day. I feel like it’s painting. I love when aspects match each other when the pink of my socks matches a pink stripe in my shirt. When I wear all block color yellow or block color white. I love deciding when I’m going to wear a hat, my hair up or my hair down.
I think it’s about me knowing my day will have many things going on, so choosing an outfit that will be self-expressive while still being comfortable and empowering me to do whatever it is I need to do. That could be something like pulling up to some sort of elitist place like a label meeting and feeling comfortable in my own skin or a studio session or to perform live on a stage playing my own drums
High Fashion Living: Do you ever get the time to take a step back and just take it all in or are you constantly focused on the next thing?
Madame Gandhi: I gave a talk called Atomic Living, which was about being in the present moment. It is very difficult the older we get and the more opportunities that come our way. I turned off the notifications on my phone so that I am not distracted by the red bubbles with numbers stressing me out. Therefore my eye can control where I go when I open my phone to get work done.
I feel grateful for the accomplishments that I have, but those are of the past. Those are the things that the ego holds onto. Once you’ve done those things, they really are just life lessons for you to carry on forward into the moment that you are currently in.
I really know that the best times I’ve had are when I’m present in the moment to recognize all the blessings that are inherent to that moment. Then the quality of that moment completely improves. I would say the ideal outlook on life is never look back and to never really be constantly looking forward. It’s just to constantly be in the present.
High Fashion Living: Here at HFL we like to say “Do Well, Live Well, and Dress really well.” While you tend to promote “Atomic Living,” can you expand for us a bit on what Atomic Living truly represents?
Madame Gandhi: Atomic living is about using spontaneity productively. It’s about knowing what’s right in front of you at the present moment that can inspire and uplift you. Just about an hour ago in Detroit, while waiting for my coffee, I notice that this boy in front of me in line had on this beautiful yellow graphic shit. So I asked him where he got the shirt and he actually designed it himself.
So after I got my coffee, he and I walked to a shop that was just down the street, and he showed me all of his designs. I was so inspired that I asked him if we can do a collaboration together. Moreover, as we talked, I noticed that he was inspired by the divine feminine. That so many of his favorite characters like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill or Emma Watson in both Harry Potter and Beauty and The Beast inspired him a lot.
It is so interesting how instead of me being on my phone in that moment or stressing about something else, I was present in that moment enough to notice his shirt. And now I have the potential to collaborate with someone on an amazing clothing line that is going to come out in the Fall. This is the idea of Atomic Living that by being wholly present in the moment, you are able to notice things to enrich you for the future.
High Fashion Living: Can you provide us insight into the wardrobe you all selected for your performance at Pitchfork a few weeks ago?
Madame Gandhi: HELL YEA, this is an independent music project. I am not signed. I take all the money that I make from other aspects of my life, and I funnel that back into my music. I saw that one of my friends was going to wear a yellow jump suit when she was about to play drums for me about a month ago in Denmark. I was like DAMN, where did you get that suit? She said it’s 50% off at Urban Outfitters.
So I went online and saw that the jump suits were very affordable for me to buy six of them, and I like the idea of us coming across as a unified team on the stage. Because female solidarity is the kryptonite of the patriarchy. Moreover, a yellow jumpsuit signifies that we’re here to work and we aren’t here to wear tight outfits that debilitate us instead. We wear yellow jump suits that bring us together and allow us freedom and flexibility in our movement.
People are their most beautiful when they are doing what they are good at and when they are doing what makes them joyful and what makes them shine.
I personally wore orange because Pitchfork asked us, artists, to wear orange and stand in solidarity against gun violence. I wanted to honor that because I think it’s amazing when festivals and people with a big audience and influence are able to use that for the better good.
My outfit came from Fruition in Las Vegas, and the yellow outfits were Vans by way of Urban Outfitters.
High Fashion Living: What is your personal Style Aesthetic?
Madame Gandhi: Printed, matching separates, block colors, red-yellow-orange (the colors of the sun) because the name Kiran means “first ray of sunlight” in Hindi. Indoor/Outdoor sunglasses by Retro Superfuture and LA Eyewear.
High Fashion Living: Who are three of your style icons?
Madame Gandhi: Adwoa Aboah, Zoe Kravitz, and Slick Woods. I tend to wear clothing by women or the queer community because they rep the very things that I stand for and the struggles that I am trying to overcome.
High Fashion Living: Finish This Sentence Style is…
Madame Gandhi: Liberation
Written by: Evan Marshall @Its_What_ev