The Ascendance of Jihae

The Ascendance of Jihae

The creative tour-de-force rocks out her list of favorites from Sotheby’s.
The creative tour-de-force rocks out her list of favorites from Sotheby’s.

Jihae is not your average multihyphenate: born in Seoul, the singer-songwriter has made an indelible impression with her sultry vocals and distinctly downtown aesthetic, and her undeniable stage presence has recently led to roles in film and television. Whether she’s spotted traipsing down Crosby Street or seen on HBO’s Succession playing Berry Schneider (the PR consultant to Kendall Roy), her nomadic upbringing and multimedia trajectory defy convention, never failing to spark intrigue.

As the daughter of a diplomat, Jihae grew up in Nigeria, Sweden and the UK before attending Emory University to study political science; but following her passions, she pursued a music career under the mononym Jihae. She has since released four full-length albums in collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, Dave Stewart and Leonard Cohen, in addition to performing at the London Olympics, creating her own music label and penning “Let’s Come Together” in support of Human Rights Day. She has carved out a niche in science fiction, guest starring in Altered Carbon on Netflix and playing twin sisters on Mars, the National Geographic series produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Leaping over to the big screen, she embodied the fierce and slickly coiffed Anna Fang in Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines.

Amalgamating the glamour of Deborah Harry, the poetic soul of Leonard Cohen, the funk of the Eurythmics and the flair of Lenny Kravitz, Jihae’s star is on the rise and the world is poised to fall under her spell.

There is no wrong way to accessorize an outfit if you feel it and wear it with conviction.

Can you describe your style, both on and off the red carpet?
I like to combine feminine sensuality with a rebellious edge.

What are the things that you consider “outfit changers” (when talking about fashion)?
A scarf can change an outfit in a dozen ways, same with hats and shoes. A pair of combat boots, sneakers or heels can drastically change the vibe of any outfit.

What are the things you consider “mood boosters” (when talking about décor and art)?
Art Deco Tiffany lamps or Fornasetti wallpaper can do wonders to create a mysterious noir atmosphere in any space.

I like to combine feminine sensuality with a rebellious edge.

When it comes to accessorizing an outfit, is there a right or wrong way to do it?
There is no wrong way if you feel it and wear it with conviction.

Are you a collector? If yes, what do you collect? 
I’ve got a collection of instruments in my music studio that range from Fender strat guitars to a polyphonic synthesizer; a West African balafon, vintage xylophone, amplifiers and thumb pianos.
I also have a huge collection of heart-shaped stones I found by the sea, where I spent a lot of time in the past two years.

What attracts you to an object?
Form, sonic and light vibrations, function and the beauty of how it unites all together.


Please tell us about “the one that got away,” i.e., one thing you didn’t buy at the time and regretted?
I don’t regret. If I missed a boat on something, I leave it there in the past where it belongs so I don’t subtract from the present moment.

What is your most prized possession?
My friend Milos gifted me a 200-year-old Ethiopian cross necklace I like to wear with the only other piece of jewelry I’ve not lost in 30 years: a Nefertiti necklace my mom got me during our family trip to Egypt when I was a little girl.

What was the best gift you ever received?
Getting a co-writing credit on the song “Just Feels” with my hero Leonard Cohen was hands down the greatest gift I could ever imagine, thanks to my producer/collaborator on my latest album, Dave Stewart (Songland, Eurythmics).

Hint, hint, what gift are you coveting this holiday season?
The Neumann U47 microphone—a dream mic to record my voice in my music studio is something I’ve been dreaming of since I used it to record final vocals on my latest album, Illusion of You, at Lenny Kravitz’s studio in the Bahamas.

What are you planning for this holiday season?
Quiet writing and reading time by the cozy fireplace, and some celebrating is in the plans with friends and family.

What makes the perfect “host/hostess” gift?
It depends who your host or hostess is, but I think a beautiful bouquet of flowers can always find a smile.

Tell us about a great holiday look (future, past, present).
My usual go-to is a rock & roll t-shirt under a YSL blazer and BLK DNM leather pants and a vintage faux fur coat on top. I dress it up with a Dries Van Noten scarf or a vintage gold embroidered velvet scarf with tassels. But when it’s cold outside, I generally prioritize warm and cozy over style.

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