Chloe and Halle Bailey, the sisters behind the R&B duo Chloe x Halle, are at a point in their careers where they’re completely and confidently in control. It was evident from the moment they teased their debut single, “Do It,” from their second full-length studio album, Ungodly Hour, that the two sisters who were once known for their dazzling YouTube covers of precious pop songs were entering a new and more grown-up musical era.
Following the back-to-back releases of stunning music videos and accompanying awards show performances for the singles “Do It” and “Forgive Me,” the sisters forayed into another artistic realm—this time, creative direction—displayed in their new campaign for Fendi. Handed complete creative control, the duo showed off the brand’s beloved Peekaboo bags with ethereal imagery that is simultaneously sexy yet subdued, much like the sisters’ own aesthetic as they enter young womanhood and reintroduce themselves to the music industry and world at large. And by catching the eye of an iconic fashion house, they further proved they aren’t kids on YouTube anymore.
“We’ve always loved Fendi. I feel like everyone does. And we were really excited when they approached us to do this campaign and how we were able to do it all from home,” Chloe tells BAZAAR.com. “We wanted it to feel really flirty, like the Peekaboo purse. We thought, What song do we have that really feels playful and fun and it’s teasing you at the same time? And we ended up on ‘Busy Boy.'”
In the Chloe x Halle-curated campaign video, the two pose on their now-familiar backyard tennis court (the setting of most of their at-home performances and photo shoots amid the coronavirus pandemic), as well as in the pool and behind a lush tablescape. They wear frilly ruched maxi dresses, platform heeled loafers, and printed boxy blazers juxtaposed with layered nameplate necklaces, chunky belts, and, of course, Fendi’s Peekaboo handbags.
“We were like, ‘You know what? Let’s do it in our backyard, let’s make the tennis court more of the aesthetic this time.’ Usually, with our live performances, we’ll just convert the tennis court into a live stage or something,” says Chloe. “But this time we said, ‘Let’s just take advantage of the tennis court theme and our pool.’ And we just had really a lot of fun. My favorite part of the shoot was putting the purse in the water, and then still being able to use it now, because it’s dry and all right.”
Fashion has served as a vital tool for the sisters in helping curate the sleek and futuristic feel of their new Ungodly Hour era. Their style, their music, and the album’s overall narrative all needed to be cohesive and relay a similar message: that young Black women are beautifully complex. It’s an ethos that is equally evident throughout their art, minds, and beauty.
“For Ungodly Hour, we realized when we finished it that the messages are much more grown,” explains Halle. “We now officially feel like we’re coming into our own as young women. I’m 20, my sister is 22, so we wanted to reflect that we are young women and be in the looks that we have for this album. That’s why there was latex.
“And even for the album cover—I don’t know if you could see, but the chrome wings were very important to us, because we wanted to show that even though women can still be angelic and fragile and beautiful … we can also be strong and sexy and all of those beautiful personalities that come with being a woman,” Halle continues. “So we just wanted to show both sides of everything, that we could be multilayered.”
Chloe and Halle say they had zero reservations when it came time to release their new, more mature music into the world. If anything, their revamped image and sound organically reflected the growth and changes they were experiencing as artists, sisters, and Black women.
“When it came to this new album and this new look … we did not really have any fear when it came to it,” says Halle. “Because honestly, this all feels like such a natural transition for us. It’s just like us turning into butterflies. We’re going through these things, the experiences are actually happening to us.
“You know, we grew up on YouTube,” Halle continues. “People have been watching us sing since we were 10 and eight years old. So I can completely understand how people would be like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’m just now realizing they don’t stay 10 and eight years old forever. They’re actually now 20 and 22 years old.’ I think it’s a beautiful transition that’s happened, and I think it’s really exciting and encouraging to hear from our peers and our supporters that they understand it and that they are proud of us.”
It’s evident that Chloe x Halle’s new work is resonating too. Just this week, a group of dancers performed breathtaking, socially distanced choreography to the duo’s track “Baby Girl” in honor of the countless number of Black women whose lives have been lost either to police brutality or domestic violence over the years. Both sisters were in awe that a song they wrote about heartbreak, vulnerability, and loneliness would translate to such a meaningful soundtrack for a larger movement.
“[The video] was one of the most incredible feelings,” Chloe says. “We were on Instagram and Amandla [Stenberg] DMed it to us. She was like, ‘Did you guys see this?’ So I watched it, but then I kept going back to it. I remember the first time I saw it, it made me cry. Seeing the mural of all the beautiful women who have lost their lives. And it just was really inspiring.
“Now, ‘Baby Girl’ has a completely different meaning to me, even when we were the ones who wrote it,” Chloe continues. “And before, I would listen to that song and I would feel really discouraged and I’d need to uplift myself and remember, no matter what you go through, no matter the trials and tribulations, you will rise on top. It’s your world. It’s okay.”
“I remember when we made ‘Baby Girl,’ in Malibu, and we were just emotionally feeling insecure and needing just words of encouragement,” adds Halle. “So the words in that song became a mantra to ourselves, to our hearts, our own hearts. The fact that people can feel lifted up by those words and create something that beautiful, it blows my mind every time. And it makes me so grateful and blessed to be able to be a storyteller.
“When you’re trying to release art and music during a time like this,” she continues, “it’s very interesting, because you think to yourself, ‘Will this be healing? What can I do to use my voice? What can people take out of this? How can this make them feel better?’ I feel like collectively as a Black community, we are all grieving together. During [times like now], music has always been our savior. “
These new chapters in Chloe and Halle’s work represent a new era of growth. Their success thus far stems from their inner confidence; they look to themselves as the ultimate sources of inspiration.
“I love how you can see how [we’ve grown] through the art. With our first EP, Sugar Symphony, we were so young. We were just getting our little feet wet with actually being proud of the original music we were making,” says Chloe. “And then up to now, we’re feeling competent in who we are as young women and when it comes to our artistry. But now we’re learning about ourselves internally and what makes us tick, what makes us happy, and knowing that it’s okay to be multilayered.”
These recent undertakings serve as a reminder that the sisters are only just getting started. And we’re eagerly awaiting the fruits of their endlessly artistic and innovative minds.
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