Behind Sabrina Carpenter's Music Video Looks

Behind Sabrina Carpenter's Music Video Looks

Story by Kleigh Balugo
Feb 07, 2024

From Anitta to Sky Ferreira, stylist Ronnie Hart wants to put women in a position of power through clothing. A Parsons dropout originally from LA, Hart started his career at CR Fashion Book working under Editor in Chief Carine Roitfeld. Since then, he’s been working independently with a rolodex of celebrity clients, most notably Sabrina Carpenter in her “Because I Like A Boy,” “Nonsense” and “Feather” music videos. Although the “Feather” music video became the center of controversy due to its Catholic imagery, Hart has no plans to tone down his risqué styling.

With an impressive resume and a love for fashion stupidity, Ronnie Hart chatted with PAPER about being in the “music era” of his career and how he’s just getting started.

What’s your personal philosophy when it comes to styling?

One of the things that I really took away from Carine was that she believed if the person in the clothes doesn't believe or feel their best in the look, it doesn’t matter what they’re wearing. It could be a piece of couture or from a stripper store — it's really about how the clothes make somebody feel. My sort of ideation is just making sure the person wearing it feels completely themselves, or maybe just an elevated version of themselves. Maybe they want to feel sexy or masculine. It's all about opening that doorway to comfort and then going from there.

What do you reference as a stylist? Is there anything in particular that you look at for inspiration?

I like to look at Helmut Newton’s work a lot. A lot of the things that I love, echoed through working with Carine, follow this idea of the sexually powerful woman who's not an object, but is in control. Herb Ritts and the whole Tom Ford Gucci era emphasizes this power female who's completely in control of her sexuality and has a lot of say in terms of what people see her in. I always go back to those Helmut Newton photos. They’re scandalous and shocking but at the same time very empowering. I'm a bit old school so I also really love Steven Meisel. And the whole Vogue Italia world in the '90s that was really about fantasy and taking things to the next level, even if it was to the point of stupidity. I love stupidity in fashion. I love when things don't make sense or when things are so conflicting that it's almost bad. Bad in a good way.

You styled Sabrina Carpenter in her “Because I Liked A Boy,” “Nonsense” and “Feather" music videos. All of them had really different vibes. How did you go about creating such distinct looks that went with each song?

Sabrina has a really interesting point of view. She has a lot of theatricality in terms of the visuals and the character that she plays in certain videos and performances. Each video has its own distinct vibe that is already curated by her. She really knows what she wants in terms of general feeling and then she finds the team who can facilitate that and elevate the idea she has.

“Because I Liked A Boy” was very dramatic. A little bit of circus, 2000s era and very over the top which was fun to do. But “Nonsense” was a lot more chilled, it was very normal clothes because the whole thing is about being at a house party and seeing the boy you like. Communicating a really simple idea through fashion is not always easy. It's actually a lot harder than picking the sparkly, diamond-crested, over-the-top look.

For “Feather” she had this whole narrative about her exes that did nothing for her. It was kind of a "fuck you" to the idea of what a woman should be and how she should be perceived, using colors like baby blue and baby pink to show femininity, but also vulnerability and innocence — when in reality she was killing boys in the video. It's a twisted sense of humor, relayed through the clothes too. I think it's about working off what the client, or Sabrina in this case, is presenting and the vibe that they want to go for, as well as using all of the tools to create this visual narrative with clothes that speak to that idea. Maybe my interpretation was something that she hadn't thought about, and that adds to the entirety of the project.

Specifically for the “Feather” music video, did you think about how the premise of the video might be seen as controversial? And did that affect the looks that you picked?

Oh my god, not at all honestly. A lot of my personal work is risqué and sexualized. There's a lot having to do with the female form. So for me that was pretty PG. There was no deliberate decision to be scandalous. So when people reacted that way, it was kind of a surprise. It was also a weird testimonial of the times that we're in now and the things that shock people. Like, in the '80s Madonna was playing with Catholicism in her imagery, and people didn’t seem as shocked. Yeah, it really was not intentional, but it just kind of panned out that way.

My favorite look from “Feather” is definitely that black tulle dress she wore in the church.

Yeah, that was meant to be the funeral look. A funeral look can be interpreted in so many ways. Especially for the hot girl who's going to her ex-boyfriend's funeral, you think about a widow or a sugar baby wearing something scandalous just to be seen. So there were a lot of different variations that we could have gone with. We could’ve gone more classic, like black lace or skin tight with cleavage, but we had that Carolina Herrera look which was so playful and bitchy. And it was so Sabrina.

What do you want people to know about you as a stylist?

No matter what I do, I always try to have a sense of levity and remember that fashion is meant to be fun. A lot of people take fashion really seriously, or they look too far into what certain things mean or what certain people wear. When sometimes, it's as simple as, "We just liked it." We had it on the rack, they tried it on, and it looks cool. That was it. I think it's important to remember that there is a lot of creativity and thought and painful hours of labor that go into it, but it's also sometimes about a feeling. I tend to go with my gut with a lot of things. Working with pop stars, sometimes you worry things might get misconstrued or deciphered incorrectly from what the intention is. But at the end of the day, fashion is meant to be a joyful, celebratory thing.

Photo courtesy of Ronnie Hart