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Grace VanderWaal took the stage Wednesday evening to open for Florence and the Machine at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in North Carolina. Her outfit for the show departed from her recent stage looks of flowing, gauzy dresses. (Mark pointed out in our behind-the-scenes, quasi administration discussion, that gossamer, ethereal dresses are a signature look for Florence Welch and Grace’s outfit may have been an attempt to contrast her look rather than compete. Mark is a smart guy. That’s why we all read him.)


Grace’s scoop neck sundress, deeply cut in the back and secured by a strap, is a nod to the 1960’s mini-dress. The big, bright, orange and yellow pop-art flowers, outlined in brown on a white and orange background are psychedelic and would have been right at home on “Laugh-in” (a TV comedy show from the 60’s for those of you not of a certain age). Where it departs from the 60’s is in its body-conscious fit. In the 60’s, mini-dresses tended toward straight shifts and tent dresses. Dresses that were fitted in the bodice generally had a full skirt. Grace’s dress is a body-hugging number designed to show her curves. There may actually be some Lycra in the fabric to make it a little stretchy. Without a sample it’s hard to tell, but it does look like it has some give to it. Grace is obviously not a little girl anymore. I would call her silhouette “willowy.”

The sundress, however, did not expose Grace to much sun because she paired it with a sheer, long-sleeved, brown shirt scattered with bright yellow… somethings. What are those? The shape suggests cherries but the color is wrong. The color suggests lemons but the shape is wrong. They might be balloons, but that looks more like a stem than a string. I don’t know. But the color scheme is perfect with the dress and the size of the contrasting print is just right!

Then there’s The Scarf. The scarf is a “brass doorknob.” That’s a term from the theater that describes an object on-set that is incongruous. It’s something that does not match the style, color scheme, time period, or in some other way shouts “I do not belong with whatever else is going on here.” Tied in a big floppy bow, the long skinny scarf added yet another print in a different color scheme altogether. A tiny, repeated pattern of various shapes (that I cannot identify, because I can’t blow the picture up sufficiently without losing definition) are a rainbow of dark pink, blue, green, and gold that in no-way relate to the orange, yellow, and brown palette of the dress and shirt.

Why did she choose it? Because it’s definitely a choice. Was she chilly? Did the brown shirt plunge revealingly? Or did she just want that shape to finish the outfit and that scarf was available? The shape of the floppy bow with the shirt and dress is great. It’s the print and colors that kind of make you go “what?” And maybe that’s the point. It’s something unexpected, something that makes you look a second time – an attention getter. I’ve developed enough respect for Grace’s fashion sense that I’m not about to suggest that it is somehow “wrong.” Actually, the more I look at it, the more I like it.

She’s still sporting the Celtic, warrior-princess braids. Her bangs are free and the braids move great on stage while Grace is dancing. I think she’s starting to keep them attached with tiny rubber bands, tho. Unless she has them redone we may not be seeing them much longer.

And, of course, our barefoot songbird was barefoot.

So what did you think of Grace’s concert look? Is she a fashion genius or is she just messing with us? (I lean toward genius, but I might be prejudiced.)