Kacey and a Case of Opulence

Article by Maura Johnson

Kacey Musgraves is one of the biggest music stars in recent years. Her ability to successfully cross music genres is one I can only best compare to Taylor Swift’s, but her voice and dreamy aesthetic set her apart from other artists that are popular right now. Her music transcends traditional borders around pop and country music, but beyond that, what strikes me most about her is her public persona, which encapsulates the essence of opulence and how to take the negative connotation out of it. From sporting pink pleather at the Met Gala to releasing neon cowboy hats as merch, Musgraves doesn’t shy away from attention-grabbing outfits. Take one look at her Instagram and you’ll quickly be greeted with shades of hot pink, pastels, glitter and trippy visuals. It’s exactly what you expect her songs to look like. 

            As readers will quickly learn in the latest issue of Season, opulence is the state of lavishness or abundance, and has associations with the tacky or “too much.” This is not a commentary on Musgraves’s wealth or abundance of materialistic items, but rather in how she uses concepts of opulence to express her public persona, especially on social media sites like Instagram. In the current issue of Season, one element of Opulence we focus on is the abundance of tacky under the scope of childhood trends and styles. Elements like platform shoes, sparkles and bold jewels that once lined the racks of stores like Limited Too have now come back with an updated appeal, and Musgraves has embraced it with ease. At a 2019 Met Gala after-party, where she first sported her full-Barbie look sans-blue contacts, Musgraves appeared wearing a gold double-breasted suit dress with large jewels bedazzling the shoulders, wrists, collar and waistline. To top it off, her hair, in a high pony most actual Barbie dolls would be jealous of, was sprinkled with matching gaudy jewels, reminding me of the “Disney’s Math Quest with Aladdin” game I used to play on my family’s old desktop computer. This instance of opulent excellence has been met with countless other examples showing that, for Musgraves, more is more. Her Christmas special, which premiered on Amazon Prime last November, featured monochromatic scenes, but were laced with eccentric set pieces and themed outfits that made the production anything but one-dimensional. The singer also calls back to popular pop culture references and trends with a modern twist when posting on social media, displaying photos of old coloring books made into phone backgrounds, and showing off how a since-forgotten style of photography can be cool in our high-tech era.  

            Musgraves does this all without seeming excessive or tacky. Though she’s been in the industry and on the charts for years, the wider culture took note of her more fervently upon the release of her latest album, Golden Hour. Whether you knew her before the album or not, the opulent style in which she works in has become a signature look for her. Combining Dolly Parton-esque country attitude with modern-day pop princess charm has led to a number of articles dedicated to her style and opportunities to be clothed in some of the most popular designers. Her style calls back to icons before her, like Parton and other rhinestone-donning stars, but is still entirely her own, as she embraces the crossroads between modern style powerhouse and time-honored style icon. 

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