Tei Shi immediately starts trying things on. She slips into a sheer pastel Karl Lagerfeld–era Fendi blouse from the early ’00s, which Laboucarié notes is a particularly hard decade to find. As we all sit and chat about clothes, our conversation descends into our professional lives. This is an emotional experience for the singer, who couldn’t release music during the pandemic per her label. “I was writing music about feeling really trapped in this situation and all of the emotions of feeling really out of control of my own work and my own life. I finally got out [of my contract],” Tei Shi says. “So now, I’m starting a new independent phase where I don’t have a label, don’t have management, and I’m self-releasing. What I am doing is very, very hands-on.”
“It’s just so normal to just lose why you started doing what you do in the first place,” Tei Shi says. At times, Laboucarié has felt a similar burnout as well. “From February, my struggle had been, Well, where is the passion? Where is the passion, and where is the creativity? And how do I tap back into that?” she says. “I completely lost that in these past few months. I really had to drive myself to post on Instagram and create content for TikTok.”
I notice that we have all turned something that we all love into a full-time job, which at times, has exhausted each of us. But of course, whenever there is a down, there is always an up. Tei Shi has gone through a traumatic time with her label, but then she was able to channel that energy into something powerful: a whole bout of new songs! “Getting that [control] back and taking ownership of it feels really good,” Tei Shi says. “That’s amazing.” As for Laboucarié, she powered through and realized she got joy from creating content, which allowed her to refocus and recharge. Just being surrounded by these women makes me realize that I, too, don’t have to be exhausted by doing something that I once loved. In fact, speaking with them makes me realize that I still indeed love clothes but more so the people who wear them and make them.
Tei Shi tries on a few more items. “You have to wear this on stage at your next concert!” I say about a tiny little Tom Ford–era Gucci silk dress that slides off the shoulder. And why not? Tei Shi received news that she sold out her show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on November 19th. She’s going to need a full new look for this event. Laboucarié and I better start planning our own outfits; Tei Shi has put us on the guest list to see her new era ourselves.