A Rising Pop Star Makes a Statement in Heels Made of Corn

Lorely Rodriguez isn’t really into heels—the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter only wore them for the first time to Chloé’s Spring 2019 show in Paris, a front-row appearance that also counted as her very first time at Paris Fashion Week. Her full Chloé look—a marbled blouse, riding pants, and those heeled boots—was quite the change-up from her everyday wardrobe, which mixes together Dickies, bulk white sneaker socks, and more style signatures of her East Los Angeles upbringing.

In advance of her third album I’m Your Empress Of, which comes out next week, Rodriguez is digging even deeper into her roots. In one album art visual that she shared just a few days ago, Rodriguez is pictured in a slick leather trench coat with a matching bodysuit underneath, chunky jewelry, and a pair of sculptural heels that came from a collaboration between stylist Ricardo Arenas and set designer Sebastián Narbona. The clothing is striking enough to capture most of your attention, but Rodriguez’s caption points to her unconventional shoes: “I used to hate heels but these WORK,” she says, followed with the all-caps declaration: “Yes they are made out of real corn.”

As photographer and creative director Dorian Ulises López Macías explains, the intention behind all of Empress Of’s visuals around this album was to create different versions of Rodriguez, inspired by the lines that Rodriguez’s mother speaks to open the album: “I only have one girl, but this only girl is like having thousands of girls, because look how many times she reproduced herself in each one of you.” Rodriguez’s mother is from Honduras, and the photographs and visuals from this album interpolate elements from Latin American culture. In this vein, Macías says he was particularly inspired by photographer Romualdo García, who took striking portraits of Mexicans during the Mexican Revolution.

The styling similarly combined the way that the album makes Rodriguez feel—she described this as “confident, sleek, and sexy,” to stylist Arenas—with everyday elements from Latin American culture. “I worked with things that are found in our daily lives that have been used for years in our culture: plastic flowers, ribbons, bandanas, machetes, and things that we find in agriculture.” Arenas pulled pieces from local designers like Raúl Orzoco, Sanchez Kane, and custom made other garments with the help of his friends Guillermo Jester and Carlos Róman. “When Dorian and I discussed the idea of wanting to incorporate Latin American elements with the styling, he came up with the idea of having shoes made from corn,” Arenas says. “It made a lot of sense to me since corn is such a prevalent food staple that we have cultivated for centuries, and something that Latinos identify ourselves with.”

Arenas gave set designer Narbona some “awful shoes” to work with as a base, he describes, and Narbona fashioned them into corn sculptures with lots of spray glue, screws, and fresh corn. “I made them last minute the night before,” he says. For decades, Latin America has been a producer of raw materials so that others can create incredible and luxurious products with them,” he says. With the corn shoe, though, Narbona and Arenas are fashioning art objects from those very same raw materials on their own terms. “We have the resources here to stick [the heel] to anyone.”

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