Since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams last January, the rise of Arlo Parks has been unstoppable. The 21-year-old British musician’s heart-on-her-sleeve lyrics and genre-bending sonic textures have seen her pick up the breakthrough artist award at the Brits and the prestigious Mercury Prize, and she’s currently gearing up to support both Harry Styles and Billie Eilish on their upcoming tours. And with her signature close-cropped, dyed hair and sharp eye for kaleidoscopic tailoring, it’s not hard to see why she’s become a favorite of the fashion world too, regularly dressed by the likes of Gucci, Dior, and Valentino.
But for Parks, nothing could quite compare to the adrenaline rush of attending her first Grammys, where she was nominated for both best new artist and best alternative music album and presented a number of awards. “It felt completely surreal, very distinctly exciting, and honestly, the day was a blur of emotion,” says Parks, cheerily, the day after the ceremony. “Being surrounded by creative people and spending the day celebrating how important and varied music is could never be anything but a very good day.”
To celebrate her big night out in Vegas, Parks worked with her stylist Harry Clements to deliver a look worthy of the event’s typically playful sense of glamour—and for that, they went to Simone Rocha, the London-based designer whose way around a floaty, ethereal dress is matched only by the tomboyish energy of her tailored coats, leather jackets, and stompy boots. “The core of the look was balance—hard and soft, black and white, pearls and rubber, a gold grill and a pearl drop earring,” says Parks. “I wanted it to be this tug of war between comfort and edge. We built this look around rugged femininity and a slightly off-kilter elegance.”
It isn’t the first time Parks has worn Rocha’s pieces—she sported a crisp white shirt topped with a sheer black tulle dress by the designer to accept her Mercury Prize last September—but in the months leading up to the Grammys, she realized that Rocha’s signature, alchemical blend of toughness and fragility felt like the perfect formula for her look. “Honestly, I feel so completely myself when I’m draped in Simone Rocha,” Parks continues. “I love that she is a craftsman, that she subverts tradition, that she highlights the strength and toughness at the heart of femininity alongside elegance. I just think she’s a genius, honestly.”
The best detail of all? Look closely at the shirt Parks wears underneath her jacket and its billowing satin sleeves, and you’ll notice a lyric embroidered in blood-red stitching that reads “making peace with our own distortions,” from the title track of her album. “Words are at the core of what I do and this phrase captures the ethos of the record,” says Parks, “using music as a way of accepting the ugliness in oneself and being at peace with having a past and being flawed and loving too hard.” On the subject of love, Parks was also supported by her girlfriend, the alt-pop singer Ashnikko, for the biggest night of her career. What could make for a happier ending than that?
Here, find all the details behind Parks’s breathtaking Grammys look—and her behind-the-scenes experience of music’s biggest night out.