In the last few months, Raffaela Weyman has swung upside down from monkey bars, been buried shoulder deep in sand, and jumped around a studio while wearing a series of heavy faux fur coats in the middle of a summer heat wave. (Those first two examples were to film scenes for her music video Girl Next Door. The over-the-top results of that last exercise are pictured below).
"When I’m on set, I get really competitive with myself and I do everything to the extreme,'' says the 28-year-old singer-songwriter. She goes deep for the sake of her alter ego, Ralph, who she has been propelling towards synthpop stardom since she made a splash with the video for her first single, Tease, last year.
The clip, which features Weyman dancing alongside a gaggle of cool girls in a dreamy pastel spa, laid the groundwork for the directional and female-centric imagery that has become her signature. ''For me, it’s very important to have it feel like the videos are a creation of something new and interesting that people are going to talk about,'' she says over ciders in Toronto’s Korea Town neighbourhood. ''The internet is so saturated and there are so many artists who have more money than me, and can make bigger videos with bigger budgets. So what can I do to stand out?''
Another of Weyman's calling cards, her unvarnished lyrics, will play a central role in her first album, to be released this fall. ''Most of my songs are about relationships, which are the most personal and connective thing for me to write about,'' she says. While many of the singer's songs put past paramours on blast, Weyman also explores her own behaviour. ''With the album, I wanted to be a bit more honest and contemplative about what you do to other people when you're in a relationship,'' she says.
Its first track, September Fades, is about Weyman playing the role of manipulator. ''Right now I’m putting the songs in order, and it’s interesting to see this evolution of me and all the feelings, as someone who is a very independent, driven woman who fears relationships,'' she says. ''I’m afraid of falling in love and losing myself, losing my focus. I see that a lot in the songs.''
Growing up in Toronto as a musical theatre kid with talent often beyond her own comprehension (she once auditioned for a small part in a school play, only to be handed the lead), style always felt like a more natural method of self-expression. She shows up for our interview in a floral summer dress paired with a Fendi fanny pack and cateye sunglasses. ''I always wanted to feel original,'' she says.
Still, the pressure on performers to constantly reinvent their looks can be challenging to manage independently. "I spend so much time thrift shopping and getting rid of clothes,'' she says. "It’s really fun but I get why someone would want a stylist. It’s exhausting.'' Weyman says her fans have come to expect a fashion show from her, but she’s intent on remaining relatable. ''I’m not trying to be this untouchable cool girl.''
FABULOUS FAKES: Singer-songwriter Ralph (a.k.a. Raffaela Weyman) is known for her idiosyncratic sense of style, an exuberant look that’s reflected in an over-the-top coat by emerging Montreal brand F.O.B.
F.O.B. coat, price on request through aigbokhaedestiny@gmail. com. Gaviria earrings, $448 at Archives (archivestoronto.com). Shoes, $399 at Fluevog (fluevog. com). Tights, stylist’s own.
PUFF PIECE: Pearl details help this Laurence & Chico coat to make an impact in a sea of plush outerwear.
Laurence & Chico coat, $1,235 through laurenceandchico.com. Warren Steven Scott blouse, $295 through warrenstevenscott.com. Burberry trousers, $625 at Saks Fifth Avenue (saksfifthavenue.com). Par Ici earrings, $165 through paricijewellery.com. Alan Anderson brooch, $950 through jewelsbyalananderson.com. Shoes, $495 at Stuart Weitzman (stuartweitzman.com).
SOFT FOCUS: Faux-fur pioneer Shrimps creates a playful topper in a psychedelic print.
Shrimps coat, £595 through shrimps.com. Rightful Owner dress, $590, tulle skirt, $300 through rightful. email@example.com. Jenny Bird earrings, $95 through jenny-bird.ca. Chloé boots, $1,725 at Saks Fifth Avenue (saksfifthavenue.com).
SHEERED GENIUS: Despite a growing interest in fake fur, shearling endures. A bold Michael Kors bomber looks fresh layered over a dress in a sweet rose print.
Michael Kors jacket and dress, both price on request through michaelkors. com. Warren Steven Scott earrings, $70 through warrenstevenscott.com. House of Etiquette latex tights, $180 through houseofetiquette.com. George Cox shoes, £250 through georgecox.co.uk.
Styling by Georgia Groom. Hair and Makeup by Sabrina Rinaldi for P1M.ca/M.A.C Cosmetics. Assistant: Romy Zack for P1M.ca.
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