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Stylist talks to Florence Welch

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At 8.45 this morning, shoppers were out in force for the Harrods sale. However bargains weren't the only things getting the crowd excited - the atmosphere was feverish with anticipation for today's very special guest.

Words: Georgina Langford

The first musician to ever perform at the Harrods Sale, Florence Welch arrived via a vintage Harrods Routemaster bus wearing head-to-toe Chanel, including a ruffled grey cape, sheer black gown with lace sleeves and pin-thin black stiletto courts. Her nails were long and pointed, immaculately painted with Chanel Rouge Noir.

She stepped up to the pagoda stage to sing and declared the sale open to an explosion of ticker tape. After performing What the Water Gave Me and Shake it Out with just an acoustic guitar accompaniment, Florence was swept to the Harrods penthouse where Stylist managed to grab her for a post-Christmas catch up.

Looking delicate but bright-eyed, Florence said she had spent Christmas "in a semi-coma. I've decided that as long as I'm wearing lots of costume jewellery, then I'm dressed, so I spent the whole time in lavish, brightly patterned pyjamas, masses of costume jewels and my paper crown." It was a relaxing one for the pop superstar, at home with her family, including her stepbrother's new puppy (who she may or may not be allergic to). It's good to know she is human: Florence "cried over the emotional bit at the end of Doctor Who", just like the rest of us!

Talking about Ceremonials, Florence explained how she is immensely proud of this album, which she wanted "to sound like a more traditional studio album, with the songs leading into one another, telling a story. After Lungs, I had discovered the sound I wanted to make and was given the chance to go as far as I could with it. I couldn't listen to Ceremonials for a week after we finished, because I was scared I could hate it." Thankfully, the final product lived up to Florence's self imposed "very high, perfectionist standards."

The opening track, Only If for a Night, is particularly special to her. "That song is partly about a dream I had about my grandmother's funeral, then her visiting me in the middle of the night, giving me some weirdly practical career advice. I was surprised enough to see her back from the dead, and then I realised...she was sort of telling me off!" She explained that "often the instrumentation influences the lyrics, and I thought the drums sounded like hooves, so the song turned into a Joan of Arc-style battle cry, all mixed in with messages and visions. With my songwriting, I think it's good to find a place somewhere between dreamland and reality."

Florence often gets caught up in the story she is telling you, and frequently cackles with laughter while recounting a tale of her incredible life. On working with Karl Lagerfeld, she says that "he is very warm, very friendly. And funny! I think he is aware of how he is a commanding presence so goes out of his way to make you relaxed." To create the stunning images that Karl shot of Florence for her single cover, she explains how they ripped out pages from books on artist Tamara de Lempicka to create a mood board. "I was just scrapbooking with Karl..." she smiles.

Florence attributes her style evolution to the process of making Ceremonials and doing the album cover shoot in a "beautiful Art Deco house. It felt like we were moving into a different romantic era, having previously been inspired by the Pre-Raphelites, I was now thinking about artists like Klimt and Erte, Virginia Woolf, the Bloomsbury set. That style has also led into the stage costumes and my personal style, too. I'm really into pattern at the moment, my wardrobe has turned into a technicolour dream closet!"

After a year working with the fashion elite (as well as Karl, Frida Giannini of Gucci designed all of Florence's tour costumes), there are other designers who Florence dreams of working with. "I love Erdem. I've met with Sarah Burton, and as well as being so, so nice, the work she has done at Alexander McQueen is just incredible..." Florence and McQueen? Now that's a dream combination we'd love to see. You heard it here first!

The Harrods Sale starts today.

Florence + The Machine 'Ceremonials' is available to buy now.

Pictures: Rex Features and Georgina Langford

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