Backstage with Jorja Smith and Kali Uchis
The Kali & Jorja Tour, look by look.
Ever since Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith joined forces on 2018’s definitive summer banger, Tyrant, we’ve been left wanting more. Sharing similar silky vocals and both under the age of 25, the pair are vibrant, experimental and impressive performers at the top of the contemporary R&B game. Thankfully our thirst for Kali and Jorja was quenched when they kickstarted the appropriately named ‘The Kali & Jorja Tour’ at the end of last month: a co-headlined “jaunt” spanning 18 fixtures across North America.
While the duo’s music is always at the forefront, Kali and Jorja’s stylists – Corey Stokes and Leah Abbott – work to ensure each performance is taken to the next level, helping the artists look and feel their best on stage. “I love going on tour and dressing up every night,” Jorja says. “Leah and I work on our looks months in advance so it’s the best feeling when I get to wear them on stage. As long as I feel comfortable then it’s always perfect.” For Virginia-born, Colombia-raised Kali, though, it’s all about merging power, sex and vulnerability. “When I feel sexy, I feel my most powerful, so for me, it’s important that I embody that sexuality while also still feeling my personal taste hasn’t been lost in it,” she explains. “Working with Corey has been a dream because he understands what I want and helps elevate it. Creating a worldwide phenomenon and building a brand synonymous with power, sex and vulnerability all combined is a process and he’s helped fully facilitate me in that along the way this tour.”
We joined Jorja and Kali backstage on their tour to capture their looks, while Leah and Corey talked us through them.
“The opening night sets the tone for the entire tour, so we went for a stand out white ‘Orchard Corset’ and icy blue ‘Fleur de Mal’ slip which would be re-worked in different colourways later down the line. It really encompassed and screamed the intended ‘modern renaissance’ vibe whilst reminding people of the classic Jorja they love in her white Nike Air Max and crystal ‘Nikita’ earrings.”
“We continued the classic corset style in the second show, which people will begin to realise ties the entire tour wardrobe together. This time, however, we wanted to show variation and take it more casual, pairing the custom ‘Kess’ silver top with baggy acid wash denim, Air Forces and a slick back pony. Jorja likes to be comfortable on stage and so this allows her to move well and really ease into the show. The trousers also had reflective silver strips along the bottom which looked insane with her new stage lighting!”
“Night three is always fun as it begins to feel like we have really established the intended vibe of the shows. We repeated the corset and slip pairing, this time with a lime green ‘Fleur de Mal’ cowl neck and vintage khaki boned corset, this also looked great as the two gave interesting variation in textures. Jorja is not afraid of bright colours and this bright green really helped put the ‘modern’ in the classy renaissance aesthetic we love.”
“This was the first look we tried on during our fitting a few months ago and fell in love, meaning it was only right to debut it at Madison Square Garden! It’s a custom ManeMane Studio vintage Portuguese print corset and ruffle skirt. It’s the kind of look you wish everyone could see up close as the detail is so incredible. I worked closely with the designers on selecting this print as it again encompasses that classy renaissance feel whilst fitting Jorja’s body like a modern set she could have purchased today! We also paired it with custom Shola Branson gold chunky jewellery and again Jorja’s favourite Air Max for comfort – she had a good dance this night!”
“Night one we went with a something that felt powerful – this full-bodysuit paired with pieces from Creepy Yeha’s collection, to highlight Kali’s feature in a cool way. The rings and choker were from a personal favourite, Lynn Ban. The crystal harness and pocket belt were super sexy and made for a great opener.”
”Night two we went with a look from Barragan, who we worked with on the custom top that is sexy without being too revealing. The skirt with the fabric tied down Kali’s leg added the sweetest ”
“Night four in NYC we went with two NYC designers, Weslah, for this custom laced corset and sweater two-piece and Martine Ali for the custom choker. Kali wanted a bit of edge and this nailed it.”