Wonderland.

GWEN STEFANI

With her long-anticipated fifth album on the way, the icon gives us her year in review: talking love, lockdown, and creating new music.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing Omega watch and jewellery

Jeans by NIKITA KARIZMA, top by HONEY BIRDETTE, watch by OMEGA, earrings by FALLON, rings by TEMPLE ST. CLAIRE and JOHN HARDY

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing Omega watch and jewellery
Jeans by NIKITA KARIZMA, top by HONEY BIRDETTE, watch by OMEGA, earrings by FALLON, rings by TEMPLE ST. CLAIRE and JOHN HARDY

Taken from the Spring 21 issue. Order your copy now.

Gwen Renée Stefani is a figure, no, cultural icon, who needs no introduction — though it is standard of a cover interview that we do give her one. The hitmaker, Orange County Girl, Super Hot Female, Sweet Escapee and archetypal Blonde Bombshell has tried her hand at practically every genre on the map, from a fusion of ska, rock and reggae in her early days as a No Doubt frontwoman, to offerings ranging between pop and country as a leading solo entity. She once even endeavoured at yodelling, which, as anyone who’s listened to the Pharrell co-written “Wind It Up” will attest, was a huge artistic triumph.

As far as how the last year has gone, Stefani’s 2020 was a mixed bag for sure. More so a collection of major life milestones coupled with a newfound love for Post Malone, and the horror of watching the world descend into a coronavirus-fuelled pit of despair that, as of yet, we’re still trying to rebound from. “There was an amazing need to have a pause, I think, that we didn’t even know could be possible,” Stefani tells me from her living room in LA over Zoom.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black and white dress

Dress by LEVER COUTURE, choker by HOUSE OF EMMANUELE, cuffs by LAUREL DEWITT, earrings by DENA KEMP,

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black and white dress
Dress by LEVER COUTURE, choker by HOUSE OF EMMANUELE, cuffs by LAUREL DEWITT, earrings by DENA KEMP,

The singer spent most of the year on a ranch in Oklahoma with her extended family: that being new fiancé Blake Shelton and Stefani’s own three kids, sister-in-law and brother’s family, all under one roof as they waited out the apocalypse. Not quite used to relinquishing the balancing act of appearances and dynamic releases that have sustained her superstardom, the break only made her more thankful for so many of the opportunities she’s had over the years. “If you don’t swim and kick and kick, you’re not gonna have a splash,” she tells me. If I wasn’t already familiar with this maxim, I need only study Stefani’s illustrious career as an example; spanning over three decades as a rockstar and purveyor of some of the world’s greatest hits must take some serious graft.“We’ve always lived by that,”she adds, with an air of the prophetic. “The success — we don’t want it to end.”

Despite the benefit of some much-needed rest, the trip’s silver lining materialised as a sudden and fruitful drive to create new music, an ordinarily daunting prospect made that much more appealing by Stefani’s new schedule. “I wasn’t planning on it, but someone said they were writing on Zoom, and I said ‘Shoot, I’ll try it.’”

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing cheetah print set with UGGs

Full Leopard Set by LANUES, tiger coat by LANUES, shoes by UGGS and tights by CAPEZIO.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing cheetah print set with UGGs
Full Leopard Set by LANUES, tiger coat by LANUES, shoes by UGGS and tights by CAPEZIO.

Stefani had already begun writing new material before the pandemic, texting herself various notes and asides from the preceding months that might form the base of her next big hit. Then one afternoon she stumbled upon a track someone had sent her that struck more than just a few chords. On a whim, she decided to take them up on their offer — “I never do that!” — and headed down to the studio to record.

“It was one of those weird situations where I go, ‘They wrote this for me? This sounds like I would write this. If they could write it for me, without me, knowing me, why am I not writing with them?’” Before long Stefani was back in LA, driving up to Mulholland to go in and write with the likes of production group TMS (Little Mix, Dua Lipa). “Anyways, cut to, that really made me want to make music and I just started writing. Over eight weeks I wrote, like, an entire record.”

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing choker (Black and White)
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing choker (Black and White)
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black blazer (Black and White)

(LEFT + MID) choker by HOUSE OF EMMANUELE, cuffs by LAUREL DEWITT, earrings by DENA (RIGHT) Suit by ICEBERG, necklaces by CHANEL and watch by OMEGA

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing choker (Black and White)
(LEFT + MID) choker by HOUSE OF EMMANUELE, cuffs by LAUREL DEWITT, earrings by DENA Suit by ICEBERG, necklaces by CHANEL and watch by OMEGA
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing choker (Black and White)
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black blazer (Black and White)

And so began the journey of Stefani’s first original full-length album in five years (not including 2017’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas). With over 20 finished songs and further plans to visit the studio, Stefani has been pulling inspiration from all different places. Among them is the desire to recognise the support of her loyal listeners and bring them a healthy dose of nostalgia and camp, as well as watching her own son find himself through music by discovering bands like Green Day and The Smashing Pumpkins — who, not a decade or two ago, Stefani was per- forming with herself.

Somewhere along the line, this would all help Stefani form the bones of “Let Me Reintroduce Myself ”, the single announcing her calamitous return to the musical fore. Stefani credits Ross Golan for the idea, a songwriter whom she was introduced to after her first studio session on the task. Despite only meeting on Zoom, together they’ve forged a creative partnership that’ll no doubt last a lifetime. “It was finding someone that understood my tone as a writer and a lyricist, the sense of humour and the sarcasm and just the fun side of when I write,” Stefani says.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black mini dress with silver boots
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black sparkling dress

Dress by AREA, tights by CAPEZIO, rings, bracelets and earrings by DENA KEMP, bracelets by LAUREL DEWITT, necklace by BULGARI, Gwen’s own boots and stylist’s own underpinnings.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black mini dress with silver boots
Dress by AREA, tights by CAPEZIO, rings, bracelets and earrings by DENA KEMP, bracelets by LAUREL DEWITT, necklace by BULGARI, Gwen’s own boots and stylist’s own underpinnings.
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black sparkling dress

The pair have now written over 10 songs together, including “Let Me Reintroduce Myself”, which stemmed from the songwriter admiring Stefani’s powers of endurance after all these years. “He kept looking at my insecurities, because I’ve always been here, like: ‘It’s OK if I put new music out, I’m not saying you have to like it or listen.’”

In Stefani’s eyes, this playful offering was the prime opportunity to debut something new in time for her performance on The Voice in December, indulging in her past to help us escape from the present, if only for a moment. Her label, however, were keen on holding out a little longer. “They said ‘If you’re going to put out new music, you should put an album out. So why don’t you go in and continue to write?’ So that’s the other part of the story of how I started writing again.” Plenty of back and forth was to follow, but Stefani still held out hope they could make it work. “It was weirdly scary, because you get addicted and spoiled with success,” she explains, “and I didn’t know if anyone would care.”

“Three days before we shot the music video, not knowing if it was gonna happen or not, the label called,” says Stefani, evidently preparing for the worst. “And they said ‘We’re going to put the song out!’” Perhaps not the outcome she was expecting but definitely the one she hoped for, Stefani’s reaction was a cocktail of glee and stress, concerned mostly by the fact she hadn’t so much as considered going to the gym in preparation.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black top and jeans
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black top and jeans with champagne

Jeans by NIKITA KARIZMA, top by HONEY BIRDETTE, watch by OMEGA, earrings by FALLON, rings by TEMPLE ST. CLAIRE and JOHN HARDY, tights by CAPEZIO, and Gwen’s own shoes and necklaces.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black top and jeans
Jeans by NIKITA KARIZMA, top by HONEY BIRDETTE, watch by OMEGA, earrings by FALLON, rings by TEMPLE ST. CLAIRE and JOHN HARDY, tights by CAPEZIO, and Gwen’s own shoes and necklaces.
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black top and jeans with champagne

Of course it all worked out, the whole affair something of an undertaking considering her prolific style history and high-calibre videography. To help, Stefani had esteemed director Philip Andelman to assist her with the visual retrospective. Armed with the singer’s keen eye and Andelman’s talent for organisation, the pair dug deep into her archive, reminiscing on the varsity vest and fishnet pairing days of No Doubt’s “Just A Girl”, the classic 50s polka-dot masterpiece Stefani dons in the video for “Don’t Speak”, and the oh-so-00s full-fringe glamour of “The Sweet Escape”.

“We recreated the looks how I wish I would have really looked then if I had people helping me, like a stylist or something,” jokes Stefani. “Things were just a little bit shorter, and the hair was just a little better, you know? Those kinds of things.” In an era of red carpet style that revolves solely around high fashion archiving, it’s almost odd to remember that Stefani and her musical age-mates predate the celebrity stylist, meaning the pink wigs, head-to-toe Vivienne Westwood fits and sequin beanies weren’t just the singer playing dress up, but a reflection of her own taste for glamour and fantasy that just felt right at the time.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing pink dress standing on top of car

Dress by MONSOORI and Gwen’s own jewellery and shoes.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing pink dress standing on top of car
Dress by MONSOORI and Gwen’s own jewellery and shoes.

Rapper Eve remembers the last look rather well, seeing as it was donned in their track “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”. “I already was familiar with Gwen be-cause of No Doubt and just liked her vibe and kind of had a feeling she would be cool,” says the rapper over email, spelling ‘cool’ with a ‘k’ so you know it’s true. “She was like me in a sense, a girly girl sur- rounded by guys — we clicked immediately.” The two didn’t even meet face-to-face until the day of the video, but Eve resolved the singer was the perfect (and only) fit for the track, a uniting of two heavyweights from totally different realms, then up to the top of the charts they went.

But no look would epitomise Stefani’s playful foray into fashion more than her ode to Alice In Wonderland for “What You Waiting For?”. The track was the first offering from Stefani’s debut solo record — Love. Angel. Music. Baby. — a smash hit signifying a new direction for the singer through an electrifying mix of synth-pop, new wave and electro. “I don’t even know where that fire came from,” Stefani recalls of her ‘guilty pleasure’ project. “We were all burned out. We had never stopped, and I just was like ‘I need to make a dance record.’” What followed would redefine modern pop music forever, a combination of deeply personal lyrics hidden under the veneer of glossy bubblegum pop that feels just as fresh and shiny today.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing pink dress

Dress by MONSOORI and Gwen’s own jewellery and shoes.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing pink dress
Dress by MONSOORI and Gwen’s own jewellery and shoes.

In November fans celebrated L.A.M.B.’s 15th birthday, making the project old enough to be sitting its GCSE exams this coming summer, if they were on anyway. Though caught up with capturing that same carefree essence for her forthcoming record, Stefani still recalls the era with a vivid fondness. “I had just started L.A.M.B., my clothing line and a line called Harajuku Lovers; I had two babies — that’s a lot of creating!” she giggles. “I didn’t know that people would love it and I’m so grateful for that. It was the most creative time in my life.”

Before long she was onto follow-up classic The Sweet Escape, still juggling the trials and tribulations of motherhood with a desire and need to create, and the subsequent guilt this instilled as she bartered with a sudden loss of freedom. “Everyone knows what happened next,” says Stefani, alluding somewhat resiliently to her divorce a few years later. “Life exploded in my face and then everything was changing.” This was the fire from which This Is What The Truth Feels Like arose, perhaps the artist’s most heartfelt project to date, and a necessary lifeline that allowed her to process and move on from the turmoil in her personal life. “That’s what makes this next record so special,” she explains. “I didn’t have to do it because I wasn’t in pain, I had to do it because there was just a calling to do it.”

“Let Me Reintroduce Myself” would then pick up from exactly where Stefani left off, filling in the blanks of the last few years when her foot was slammed firmly on the gas with Las Vegas residencies, country singles and her recurring judging role on The Voice. Stefani is especially effusive of the latter, a chance opportunity that connected her with her co-judge and now fiancé Blake Shelton. “[He’s] kind of a phenomenon over here,” she says. “He’s had 28 number one radio hits and has been on The Voice for 20 seasons.” She trails off into her own thoughts, adding: “Not to brag, but…” It’s alright, Gwen, I’d be bragging too.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing red jacket sitting in car
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing red coat holding heart shaped balloon

Dress by ATELIER BISER, top by HONEY BIRDETTE, watch by OMEGA, earrings by FALLON, rings from TEMPLE ST. CLAIRE and JOHN HARDY, tights by CAPEZIO and Gwen’s own shoes and necklaces.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing red jacket sitting in car
Dress by ATELIER BISER, top by HONEY BIRDETTE, watch by OMEGA, earrings by FALLON, rings from TEMPLE ST. CLAIRE and JOHN HARDY, tights by CAPEZIO and Gwen’s own shoes and necklaces.
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing red coat holding heart shaped balloon

The pair are already a total musical powerhouse, snagging two consecutive number one hits on the Billboard US Country Airplay chart out of the collection of tracks they’ve released as a duo. The first of the two singles — “Nobody But You” — dropped in 2019, with Stefani’s London BFF and longtime collaborator Sophie Muller tagging along to shoot the music video. With the pair’s friendship dating back to No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” days, the experience provided a kind of full-circle feeling for her foray into the wild, wild west.

A year later, she recalls being in her parents’ house when Shelton sent her the demo for “Happy Anywhere”. “This is obviously our song — you have to be on it,” he told her of the jovial country tune. The sentiment meant so much to Stefani that, upon first listen, she actually burst into tears. “It was such an honour to be asked on a different genre, and with someone that I respect and love so much,” she says.

I suppose that brings us right up to date, bar a recent feature on Dua Lipa’s remix album Club Future Nostalgia that sought to bring the hedonism of the dance floor straight to our living rooms. Stefani first caught wind of the “Physical” singer’s interest in her towards the end of quarantine. “We were in the pool, I think, when I got the note,” she recalls. “We were playing that song all the time, everyone in the whole world was. I got really excited that she even knew who I was, or that I would even be on the list of awesome people that she chose to collaborate with.” I suppose it doesn’t hurt being selected alongside the likes of Madonna and Missy Elliott every once in a while… “I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be at first, and then they wanted me to do a remix. It was fun! She’s such an amazing singer, I love her voice and her style.”

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black and white dress long shot

Dress by LEVER COUTURE, choker by HOUSE OF EMMANUELE, cuffs by LAUREL DEWITT, earrings by DENA KEMP, tights by CAPEZIO and Gwen’s own shoes.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black and white dress long shot
Dress by LEVER COUTURE, choker by HOUSE OF EMMANUELE, cuffs by LAUREL DEWITT, earrings by DENA KEMP, tights by CAPEZIO and Gwen’s own shoes.

Now back in yet another lockdown, Stefani’s plans over the next few months remain to be, well, planned. “I would love to get married, but I want my parents there, so that’s hard to plan,” she ruminates, reflecting on all the possibilities 2021 might bring. “We have three kids in school and at home on Zoom, so hopefully that will end for them. But there’s not a lot of plans, I just want to put this record out!”

After debating the likelihood of returning to her roots with a festival run this summer, Stefani makes sure I’ll include a thank you to all her fans who have stuck around for all these years, whether it be lovers of “Just A Girl” or those who just can’t seem to quit her Christmas album. “If you could put that in the article, that’d be nice,” she quips, before affecting a mock-British accent to “Cheeyaz!” me off into the night. I suppose we can now add ‘cockney geezer’ to the very, very long list of aliases she’s already claimed, or is yet to discover…

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black mini dress lying down (Black and White)

Dress by AREA, tights by CAPEZIO, rings, bracelets and earrings by DENA KEMP, bracelets by LAUREL DEWITT, necklace by BULGARI, Gwen’s own boots and stylist’s own underpinnings.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing black mini dress lying down (Black and White)
Dress by AREA, tights by CAPEZIO, rings, bracelets and earrings by DENA KEMP, bracelets by LAUREL DEWITT, necklace by BULGARI, Gwen’s own boots and stylist’s own underpinnings.
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing purple dress
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing pink dress black and white

(LEFT) Dress by Nicole + Felicia Couture, earrings by Dena Kemp, rings by Temple St. Claire and John Hardy, bracelets by Laurel DeWitt and Dena Kemp, rings by Dena Kemp and necklaces by BULGARI. (RIGHT) Dress by MONSOORI and Gwen’s own jewellery and shoes.

Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing purple dress
Dress by Nicole + Felicia Couture, earrings by Dena Kemp, rings by Temple St. Claire and John Hardy, bracelets by Laurel DeWitt and Dena Kemp, rings by Dena Kemp and necklaces by BULGARI. Dress by MONSOORI and Gwen’s own jewellery and shoes.
Gwen Stefani for Wonderland Spring 21 wearing pink dress black and white
Photography
Ellen Von Unwerth
Styling
Nicola Formichetti
Make up
Mary Phillips at Blended Strategy.
Words
Bailey Slater
Hair
Danilo Dixon at The Wall Group.
Nails
Carolyn Orellana.
Prop Stylist
Evan Jourden.
Producer/ Entertainment Director
Erica Cornwall.
First Photo Assistant
Tutu Lee.
Second Photo Assistant
Andrew Dorward
Digital Operator
Daniel Calderón
First Styling Assistant
Marta del Rio.
Second Styling Assistant
Hunter Clem.
Makeup Assistant
Shelby Smith.
GWEN STEFANI