Elle: Rock Steady (March 2010)

After two kids and 15 years at the top of the pops, Gwen Stefani and her trademark style-SoCal tomboy meets ultrapolished pinup-still win us over every time. by Maggie Bullock

Fresh off a No Doubt reunion tour and the spring show of her fashion line, L.A.M.B., Gwen Stefani touched down in New York recently to introduce the latest version of her Harajuku Girls fragrance franchise (this time,the fab five are reimagined as tanned, bikini-clad Sunshine Cuties). An inspiring blend of superstar and supermom, Stefani was in full regalia-sharp brows, pink-painted lips, gobs of gold jewelry-while Zuma, her one -year- old (”my bunny”, Gwen cooed) attempted a sweet escape from her hip.

Fans love that your look wasn’t dreamed up by some music exec; it’s very authentic.
No Doubt was together for nine years before we even got on the radio, and I’ve looked pretty much the same since the beginning. In one of the first interviews I ever did, I’m sitting on the floor, gluing together this jailbird costume – basically the same one I wore two years ago in The Sweet Escape video. I still use the same references: old-Hollywood Marilyn, chola girls, Anaheim girls, English schoolgirls, and Japanese Harajuku.

You seem to have an abiding love affair with Japan.
Whatever trend is happening there, it’s everywhere – like, oh my God, lots of zippers! I look at millions of Japanese magazines, and my design associate goes there on inspiration trips. I’ll be in bed at 11 PM and she’s sending me pictures.’ ‘Want this $350 fleece motocycle jacket for Kingston?” I’m like, ”Yes, he definitely needs a $350 motocycle jacket – not”.

Was the makeup at your spring runway show inspired by your own look?
I’ve basically done the same makeup since ninth grade: eyeliner, a strong brow, not much eye shadow, and red lips. For the show, we did the big thick liner I’ve always done,but in pop colors: red,blue and yellow. I thought it was going to look tough,but under the lights it was soft,pretty.

What’s the secret to doing your own makeup on tour?
Sweatproofing. I don’t know how many calories I must burn every night, I’m dying up there! You can get waterproof stuff at the beauty supply, but it’s mainly about layering.And double lashes! I stick two rows of false lashes together.Luckily on this tour,I had a little break to go backstage and re-spackle.

Do you ever leave the house without makeup?
I’m not in full-on makeup every day, but my husband and I just had our seventh anniversary – he makes an effort for me, I make an effort for him. It doesn’t take me very long. I’m fast!

Well, you have professional experience, right?
When I was 20, I worked in a department store – basically a mature women’s shop with, like, polyester slacks. The clothes were horrible, but I really enjoyed helping women pick outifts. Later, I graduated to be one of the stuck-up girls at the makeup counter, which was a big deal. I never thought I’d get there [laughs]! I got to smell all the fragrances and be with all the pretty girls and intimidate everyone. Well, I didn’t, but they did.

Where are you headed next?
Back into the studio for a new No Doubt album. I hope. I’ve had writer’s block a for a while, maybe because I was too homebound. How was I supposed to be modern when I was sitting there with this post-pregnancy body, in the house, banging my head against the wall! On tour,I freed all that up and got inspired.

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