Sitting in the front row of the parade that Fendi held last February at Milan Fashion Week is for Mabel Alabama Pearl McVey (Alhaurín de la Torre, 26 years old), better known as just Mabel, “a dream come true” . Leaving aside the cliché, the fact that a luxury firm with the depth of the Italian has its eyes on this artist ratifies her influence beyond the stage, where she has achieved industry recognition —best British soloist at the 2020 Brit Awards — with ground-breaking hits like Don’t Call Me Up. The youngest daughter of the Swedish singer and generational icon Neneh Cherry, with whom she held the coveted front row, and the producer of groups like Massive Attack, Cameron McVey, knows the importance of image when building a musical career. “For me, music and fashion go hand in hand. They are two forms of self-expression, two ways of showing people who you really are,” she concedes. True to the prevailing aesthetic among pop stars of her generation—mile-long nails, constant hair changes, and a predilection for tight, subversive clothing—Mabel is jealous of every look she wears during this shoot. Mabel poses with the ‘look’ of Kim Jones for FENDI, with which she attended the show of the Italian firm at Milan Fashion Week. Photo: JOSEP MORÉ In the marked British accent with which she responds — she grew up halfway between Stockholm and London, where she has recently settled — it is impossible to intuit any reminiscence of her childhood in Malaga. Her parents lived there when she was born and from there she treasures memories as happy as they are remote. “We used to go to flamenco shows and I remember the food was amazing. I love tapas and Spanish people”, she affirms, assuring that she would like to explore those roots in her music as well. “Oh, and I also love Andalusian horses. Riding them through the Sierra de Málaga is one of the favorite memories of my entire life”, adds the young woman, who is still an inveterate rider and has her own horse in the London capital. At that time, the germ of her that would push her to find a place in the music industry also awoke in her. “When I saw my father playing in his studio I thought, ‘I want to do that one day.’ And the same when seeing my mother on stage. They are both incredibly inspiring and I feel so lucky to have grown up surrounded by such creative people,” she confesses. His talent, inherited from the musical lineage from which he comes —his grandfather was the jazz virtuoso Don Cherry— and stimulated through the hip hop and R&B of the nineties and two thousand that put a musical thread to his adolescence, does not make , however, let Mabel wallow in nostalgia. “I am not one of those people who thinks that any past time was better. We all get nostalgic sometimes, but I always look forward. I face the future with positivity thinking about how I can grow and be better.” Mabel is wearing a mini dress, Baguette bag and high boots, all by FENDI. Photo: JOSEP MORÉ A quality that she shares, she says, with the new generation of artists to which she belongs. “I think it’s an incredibly exciting time for music, that we’re being able to carry our heritage and what we’ve heard when we were little into the future.” Not only in terms of sound, but also in terms of lyrics. “We are comfortable with who we are and we have very important conversations about identity, race, sexuality, mental health and all those topics that were taboo a few years ago.” Author of most of the songs on her first album, High Expectations, and well aware of the relevance of managing creative control over her career, Mabel is not afraid to address her love relationships or the anxiety she has suffered since she was a girl in her songs. Ella’s Don’t Call Me Up by her, with which she accumulates more than 800 million reproductions on Spotify, aims to be an anthem of empowerment of women after the breakup. “I don’t want to hide behind any character, I want people to get to know me. And for that I have to have control of the message I’m sending. What I want to tell my fans is that they can be themselves”, she concludes, reluctant to talk about any kind of family heritage. A message in which she will influence her second album, which will be released throughout this year. Her false modesty doesn’t go with her: “I have the feeling that it’s the best music I’ve made so far”. * Styling: Juan Cebrián. Makeup: Stanislao Iafulli. Hairdresser: Vasile Longui. Photography assistant: Víctor Álvarez Ferreira.
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