Colorful World Of Devendra Banhart
Rain is falling on Los Angeles, pouring down the boulevards, freaking out the motorists and steaming up the windows of Kitchen Mouse, a bohemian-vegetarian café in Highland Park. Mr. Devendra Obi Banhart, 35, is busying himself with an avocado and eggs special, contemplating his surprise elevation to arbiter of style.
“I love fashion, I really do,” says the Venezuelan-American singer-songwriter and painter. “I love going to shows and observing the pieces as if they’re drawings. Whenever I see someone with their own individual look, it makes me so happy. When you realize how difficult it is in some parts of the world just to wear a different color shoelace, it re-instills that appreciation.”
MR PORTER has made no secret of admiring Mr. Banhart’s style. His cult-healer-who’s about-to-be-rumbled look, combined with his gnomic Snapchat output for Missoni, made him a surprise hit at the SS17 men’s shows in Milan last June. He has proved that if you stay more or less in the same place, the world will revolve and find you all over again. His 2016 album Ape In Pink Marble was his ninth, and its shimmering undercurrents and sly magnetism were a reminder of the charm of early releases such as Oh Me Oh My and Cripple Crow, from the early 2000s. A friend of his described it as “psychedelicate”, which pleased him. “Everybody else said, ‘I haven’t heard it. I’ll get back to you,’” he deadpans. One song, “Fancy Man”, could almost have been written by one of his heroes, Mr. Ray Davies, looking askance at his jet-setting. “In one sense, it’s a song about a jerk,” says Mr. Banhart. “He’s a despicable person, totally self-centered, no respect for anyone else, completely materialistic. But in another sense, it’s semi-autobiographical.”