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Chappell Roan: Super Graphic Ultra Modern Camp Princess

Updated: Apr 19

After spending the better part of the last three years harassing my loved ones to tune in, Chappell Roan’s recent explosion in popularity following her Tiny Desk Concert on March 21st has brought me a sense of vindication like no other. The performance was a stunning display of Chappell’s technical prowess, charming personality, and, perhaps most notably, her campy style that has captured hearts globally. 

Chappell arrived at NPR wearing a hot pink dress and matching arm warmers, paired with a sparkling butterfly necklace, a tiara, and golden butterfly hair clips in her towering wig. Woah. Think that’s all? Think again. 

Her makeup, done by Sterling Tull, was the real pièce de résistance– white foundation, bright blush, glittery blue eyeshadow, and a deep red lip to top it all off. And, naturally, you can’t forget the lipstick (intentionally) smeared across her front teeth. 

The look has inspired many to try out what TikTok is calling “Chappell Roan makeup.” The draw is clear; it’s the perfect blend of glamor, mess, and sparkle. This makeup is, of course, deeply inspired by the work of drag queens. This comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the musician as Chappell Roan has been nothing but vocal regarding her deep admiration of drag and the queer community. 

In fact, she considers “Chappell Roan” to be her very own drag persona in contrast to her given name, Kayleigh Rose Amstutz. With anti-trans and anti-drag laws being introduced across the country, including in Roan’s home state of Missouri as recently as this March, Chappell has made it a point to double down in her enthusiastic solidarity. She invited local queens to perform as openers through her most recent tour and has dedicated portions of her ticket sales to For The Gworls, a mutual aid group in New York for Black trans people. Shoutout to Phoenix-based queens Benaddiction, Sayyora DeMornay, and Salem Vee for an electrifying opening act at Arizona’s latest show!

Her Tiny Desk Concert is not the only instance of this wonderfully gaudy style making an appearance in Chappell’s work. The release of her debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, in September of 2023 came with a collection of music videos and visualizers, each presented with a unique aesthetic or theme.

These visuals created a clear line between songs and specific looks. When you think “My Kink is Karma,” you think of bedazzled heart makeup and devil horns. When you think “Red Wine Supernova,” you think of magicians, wands, and rabbits. When you think “Pink Pony Club,” you think..well, pink pony cowboy hats. 

The lines between songs are so clear that she was able to use them as themes for her shows, encouraging attendees to dress up in accordance with a specific song. This encouraged creativity and self-expression within the audience as well as creating a feeling of community amongst fans.

She’s also been making waves as an opener for Olivia Rodrigo through the beginning of her Guts tour. Chappell brought with her on tour the iconic “Hot To Go” dance. During her set, Chappell walks the audience through spelling out the phrase “Hot To Go” with their arms and encourages the crowd to sing-spell along with her through the song. This chant results in a ridiculously engaging activity for the audience but also, in its own special way, creates another visual for Miss Roan. 

The image of increasingly large crowds, all uniformly dancing and singing as one, has become a staple in her performances. It speaks to everything that Chappell has consistently promoted throughout her career– togetherness, campiness, and good ol’ fashioned fun. This image was perhaps the strongest it’s been yet at her Coachella debut on April 13th. 

Her ability to convince such a large audience to join her in her silly little dance speaks to her magnetism and charisma as a performer. It’s also worth mentioning her makeup and outfit at this show. While I won’t go into detail, all you really need to know about to appreciate her Coachella look is her bedazzled strap-on harness. Enough said.

Chappell’s rise in popularity goes to show how large of a role visuals serve in the music industry. However, Chappell Roan’s strong visuals go beyond just aestheticism and have come to represent more to her fans. 

Through her makeup, outfits, and visualizers, Chappell has been able to attract and cultivate a space where queer culture is not only accepted but celebrated. Chappell’s bold authenticity as an openly lesbian artist is nothing short of admirable and is a breath of fresh air in the world of pop. I truly believe we are witnessing something incredibly special with the rise of this Midwest Princess. 

I encourage you all to keep an eye out for her as she continues to release music and teasers for her next album. I’m confident she will continue to be just as glittery, bold, and camp as she’s always been. Thank you for reading!

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