After a seven-year run with K-pop girl group 2NE1, 24-year-old South Korean singer and rapper CL went solo back in November with her hit single “Hello Bitches.” Since then, the gritty, high-energy video — reminiscent of early Missy Elliott and one that CL herself described to Billboard back in January as “raw” — has garnered over 10 million YouTube views. “She’s already a global superstar,” says her manager Scooter Braun (who also represents Justin Bieber and Tori Kelly). “We’re building buzz here for her debut album.”
With 3.7 million Instagram followers and fans including designers Hedi Slimane, Jeremy Scott and Alexander Wang — in whose WANGSQUAD campaign she’ll be appearing this spring alongside Travis Scott and I Love Makonnen — she might not need much of a push. She was the toast of New York during Fashion Week (and Vogue even proclaimed her the “breakout beauty star”), which is where Billboard caught up with her exclusively. Before jetting to Korea and then to Paris for their Fashion Week, she spoke to Billboard about her experience and shared photos from Feb. 18, when she hit top shows including Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs. CL, who has been to “four or five” New York Fashion Weeks, says this is “my first time doing it properly and it was fun. I enjoyed the parties!”
What’s your favorite thing about coming to New York for Fashion Week?
It’s an excuse to see my friends because it’s hard for everyone to get together.
What was your favorite show?
I can’t pick one. I’m happy to be here for Alexander Wang since I’m part of his campaign. His show was amazing.
You are good friends with Jeremy Scott. What’s it like watching his show?
I’m always so proud of him — to see him grow as his shows get bigger.
The weather has been pretty cold. Has it been hard to dress for it?
I’m from Korea, so it’s not that cold to me.
How do you describe your style?
I’m a tomboy and my style is punk. I loved Alexander and Marc [Jacobs’] shows because they both had some punk in their collections.
What was your impression of Calvin Klein’s show?
I love how simple the designs can be but less is more.
The collection was amazing. I would wear the looks in my music videos