Swedish pop star Lykke Li’s style secrets

My personal style identifier wears all white during the day and all black at night. I’m very simple: I like white socks, a white t-shirt, white pants. And at night, I often wear the 1990s black vintage Prada: I especially love my leather A-line trench coat and some knee-high boots, which I’ve worn to infinity and are falling apart. I’ve been on the road for so many years that everything has to work and last forever. With everything I buy, I like to think, “I’m going to wear this when I’m 70 and I’m going to be so chic.”

Last thing I bought and loved was a selection of vintage illustrated books about Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman and Marlene Dumas. I love Cindy Sherman because she addresses something I’m struggling with: how does a woman age without going insane? I am inspired by all women who can be free and powerful and not vain.

Stacks of books on the floor in Li’s bedroom © Arianna Lago

The place that means a lot to me is Stockholm. Having lived in LA for so many years, I hold my hometown in high esteem. I close my eyes and I can smell the spring-summer air there. The light, the coffee, the hustle and bustle… For me, Stockholm is like taking LSD.

Li's broken Japanese teapot

Li’s broken Japanese teapot © Arianna Lago

The best souvenir I brought home is a blue and white hand-painted teapot that I bought in Japan. But I recently broke the lid and I can’t seem to be able to fix it. It’s heartbreaking, but I think it’s a symbol of the past. You just have to keep going.

The best book I’ve read in the last year is maternity by Sheila Heti. All of her concerns about having a baby felt absolutely true to me — I have a son, Dion, who is six years old. It doesn’t matter if you have children or not, you still need to answer these questions and relate to motherhood in some way.

Jane Birkin - one of Li's style icons - in Paris, 1970

Jane Birkin – one of Li’s style icons – in Paris, 1970 © Watford/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

My style icon it’s not so much about a person as seeing someone walking down the street wearing the perfect t-shirt, or an elderly gentleman in the ideal cashmere blazer with a signet ring. Of course there’s Phoebe Philo and Joan Didion, and I recently saw Agnès Varda’s documentary on Jane Birkin and I thought, ‘Damn, she can wear jeans like no other.’ But then again, I also like the way Kanye West dresses. Basically, it’s all about the right fit and the right tone.

The best gift I’ve given lately was an old Eames writing chair for someone I love very much. It is from the 1980s and upholstered in green leather. I bought it for him because he is a writer and I wanted him to think of me every time he writes. No, I’m kidding… I just think if you’re writing at a desk, you need an iconic chair.

Li at home
Li at home

And the best gift I’ve received to be able to love again. Someone recently said to me, “It’s amazing how after everything you’ve been through, you’re still able to be in love” — because when you’re down you think you’ll never find love again, and then you do it, which is so nice. Does that have anything to do with the Eames Chair? No comment…

A table by Gae Aulenti in the living room
A table by Gae Aulenti in the living room © Arianna Lago

I have a collection of classic pieces of furniture. I bought the first one after a big breakup: it was a Gae Aulenti pink marble coffee table. I don’t have many things – when I buy clothes or jewelry I look for perfect symmetry, harmony, but that doesn’t happen often. I’ve decided that I don’t want the in-between in life. I either sit on the floor or I want my de Sede Terrazza sofa. I want perfection – and I can’t afford it!

The best advice I’ve ever received was: The only way out is in. I’d heard it here and there, but it really clicked when I started meditating, which David Lynch taught me – he sent me to a friend of his’s about a decade ago.

Li is wearing her 1990s Prada leather trench and boots

Li wears her 1990s Prada leather trench and boots © Arianna Lago

my favorite building is my home. I wake up here every morning thinking, “How could I be so lucky?” I call out to the Universe. I said, “I want a mid-century home that no one has vandalized, that’s small, one story, with a yard, a view, a fireplace and a bathtub, and an extra guest bedroom,” and somehow it appeared years later. And the view is so good: the classic LA city lights thing, like in the movies heat.

You can always find it in my fridge Honey Mama’s Chocolate: It’s only organic cocoa and honey and other raw materials. Then some tahini. And lemons because I’m that annoying person who really enjoys drinking lemon water first thing in the morning. But it’s not like I wait a long time for breakfast afterwards: I immediately eat lots of bread and cheese. www.honigmamas.com

The last piece of clothing I added to my closet were white tennis socks from Nike. I’m obsessed – I buy so many pairs. I guess it makes me feel like I went to college – and I didn’t. The Racket Doctor, 3214 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, racketdoctor.com

Your Contax T3 camera

Your Contax T3 camera. . . © Arianna Lago

Her old Prada shoes

… and vintage Prada shoes © Arianna Lago

An object I would never part with is my Contax T3 camera. I make a photo book for Dion every year – it looks like he had an amazing childhood! My mother, who died a few years ago, was a photographer and often took pictures of us as children. It’s just so nice to have something.

The beauty staple I’m never without is Weleda Skin Food – I always need that with me. And I love perfume: I have Musc Ravageur by Frédéric Malle; a fragrance by Swedish brand Stora Skuggan called Mistpouffer; and one with Patagonian botanicals called Ett Hem by Fueguia 1833. They’re all quite musky – smoky and intense. I always apply Olio e Osso lip balm and then apply a Mac Spice lip liner afterwards – you gotta keep up with the kids, you know?

Li's perfume collection - she likes musky scents

Li’s perfume collection – she likes musky scents © Arianna Lago

The thing I couldn’t do without is Nuun Electrolytes. I’ve always had extremely low blood pressure, so my doctors are always like, “How are you anyway?” But someone told me to add salt to my diet, and now I drink it all the time. However, I feel like I have quite a few needs. I need a matcha every day, and I also drink the MUDWTR coffee alternative. All the things you think LA people do, I do. Basically, I’ve become my own worst nightmare.

The last music I streamed was Brian Eno’s The Big Ship. He’s able to pack so much life and emotion into one track. Music really is the fastest way to heaven.

Topo Chico sparkling water, Yola mezcal and lemons - she likes to drink lemon water in the morning

Topo Chico mineral water, Yola mezcal and lemons – she likes to drink lemon water in the morning © Arianna Lago

A marble side table by Lucia Mercer for Knoll

A marble side table by Lucia Mercer for Knoll © Arianna Lago

My favorite room in my house is my bedroom. It has my amazing Gio Ponti bed that I bought from an old hotel and my books but the best part is the mattress. When I was pregnant I wanted everything to be 100 percent natural; I found a Naturepedic mattress made from organic cotton by an Amish community in Ohio. And then I have pearlescent, very light green sheets from my friend’s bedding label, Tekla. The thing is, from my bedroom, I can see into my living room, and it’s all green carpet, so it’s really a big room. I basically lie flat all the time, either in my bed or on the floor.

Her Gio Ponti bed, which she bought in a hotel
Her Gio Ponti bed, which she bought in a hotel © Arianna Lago

My wellness guru is my therapist who has had the deepest impact on my life. I do the ideal parent figure protocol, which is all about retraining your attachments. I wanted to find out why I kept getting into these dramatic situations – and I think it worked. And then I also see a craniosacral therapist in Stockholm. We look at how your whole life and memories and trauma are stored in your body. It’s overwhelming – as powerful as taking ayahuasca.

I recently rediscovered Marina Abramovic. I returned to her work while working on the songs and videos for my visual album, EYE. I was interested in their repetitions.

The only artist whose work I would collect if I could is Cy Twombly. I’m just saving! His work really speaks to me – it touches me. I think art should be immediate.

The podcast I listen to is En Varg Soker Sin Pod. It’s a Swedish podcast where two women discuss feminism and art and dissect popular culture from a very intelligent angle.

A pleasure I would never do without is food: I’ve never skipped a meal in my life. And massage – especially a foot massage. The best I’ve ever had was in Singapore. I got it from a blind man in this weird mall I was staying at. It was really hard – on a pain scale of 1 to 10, it was a 12. But somehow I was totally hooked. I went twice a day and it was heaven.

“I want a mid-century house that nobody has vandalized, small, one storey, with a garden, a view, a fireplace and a bathtub” © Arianna Lago

My favorite app is Insight Timer. It’s the only thing I don’t consider a complete waste of time. Whenever I’m on the phone I feel so guilty and bad. But Insight Timer is good. It’s not that I like to meditate – it’s just that it’s really important.

In another life it would have been me Couple therapist – my favorite topic is the complications of love. That or a baby sister.

The work of art that changed everything for me was “Song to the Siren” by This Mortal Coil. I really hope that one day I can make such a fascinating vocal recording. But I don’t think I succeeded. I will die trying.

Lykke Li’s latest album EYE is out now. She plays Londons barbican on October 22nd

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