Last Thursday we trekked uptown to the Guggenheim Museum to catch a special performance by Zola Jesus. The pint-sized performer filled the famed Frank Lloyd Wright-designed space with her powerhouse voice, accompanied by the Mivos Quartet and composer J.G. Thirlwell. While every time we’ve seen Zola, a.k.a. Nika Danilova, play she’s been a glowing, radiant presence, dressed all in white and looking somewhat angelic with her shock of white-blond hair, this time she was literally glowing.
Working with stylist and designer Jenni Hensler, Danilova took the stage wrapped in a conch shell-inspired LED encrusted collar that made her look all the more ethereal.
“When Nika (Zola Jesus) told me she was going to be performing at the Guggenheim, I knew this would be a heavenly and dreamy space for her, as she is very inspired by architecture and minimalism,” says Hensler. “I decided to design a piece that would embody the architecture of the space. I wanted her to be the heartbeat of the structure, bringing it to life with light and energy.”
Aside from the design of the building itself, the winding collar piece was also based on things like the Fibonacci sequence and Pythagorean spirals found in nature, such as the shape of a nautilus seashell, as well as bioluminescent sea creatures like jellyfish.
Working with LEDs and wearable tech is a relatively new experience for Hensler—she previously art directed and designed costumes for the recently released, ghostly Lower Dens video for “Propegation”—but she used the technique to great effect. It’s great to see some of the more avant-garde artists in pop culture experimenting with wearable tech for performance and in cultivating their personal aesthetic. Now that the materials have become cheaper and easier to work with, it could really break open the fashion industry for some truly wild and unusual designs.
Check out the beautiful shots from the show below and our video with Zola Jesus from our San Francisco event here.
All photos courtesy of Chris Person.