Alanis Morissette on Gap Campaign, Style Evolution and New Music

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In 2005, Alanis Morissette starred in a Gap campaign in which she, Keith Urban, Jason Mraz and John Legend were tapped to sing a rendition of their favorite song to promote the brand’s new line of fall denim. Her pick: “Crazy” by Seal, which she also recorded for her greatest hits album “The Collection” earlier that year.

In the video, she boasts a classically early aughts aesthetic: effortless waves with micro-bangs, a thick black choker, a skin-tight tee, an abundance of layered silver necklaces and, of course, low-rise Gap jeans.

Eighteen years later and the rock icon has been asked to star in a Gap campaign once again, but this time things look a bit different. She now has a husband and three kids, who join her for this year’s campaign which sees Morissette running after them in baggy washed denim, an oversized white tee and a billowing black coat.

“When I was younger, I wanted to feel cute and as I get older, my running joke with my friends is I just want to feel presentable,” Morissette tells Variety over Zoom. “[The campaign] was a return of sorts. But last time I hadn’t met my husband yet, I didn’t have a family. So this was a whole other iteration.”

Bjorn looss

But despite the time passed, (“You live, you learn // You love, you learn,” as the song goes) much of Morissette’s ethos has stayed the same, so a return to the legacy American brand’s sartorial playground, a few years older and a lot wiser, made sense.

“Their mission statement for this campaign really resonated with me value system-wise,” Morissette says. “My value system’s number one is connection. So connection with life and God. Connection with relationships and parenting and spousing. And then relationships within, too. That triad. And then expression and being in the body and all of these things that felt like we could sort of evidence in the shoot. It just felt really aligned with what [Gap] was up to.”

Bjorn looss

In honor of Morissette’s second campaign with Gap, Variety sat down with the singer and songwriter to talk about how her style evolution has changed since becoming a mom, her struggles with postpartum depression and her plans to begin writing a new record next year.

What was it like bringing your kids and husband to the shoot?

It’s the ultimate multitasking. Basically every mom in the world relates to this, the whole idea of wearing many hats and being so many different archetypes at the same time: Joan of Arc, mom, spouse, friend, activist, and just trying to basically make sure that my kids can still be kids and not protecting them and allowing their self expression.

What are the coolest perks your kids get to experience by having a rock icon mom?

Well, there’s a lot of cons that I process with them. But international travel is such a big part of our family. My daughter will bring up a country and I’ll say, “Oh, yeah, you’ve been there twice.” She’s like, “Oh, I don’t remember that.” I’m like, “Because it was before you were speaking!” So the idea of the planet being what we’re curious about, and different cultures and traditions and religions, we’re almost like kids in candy stores, and it’s really been important to me my whole life. It’s kind of a Canadian perspective, really. To just think about the planet as a whole as opposed to being America-centric. Being more ethnocentric. So that’s a big deal for us, just exploring in a different country, their language and their way of living in their worldview that is oftentimes completely different from ours. So I love it. 

You’ve been open about your experience with postpartum depression in the past. What inspired you to talk openly about these struggles?

I went through it all three times and they got progressively worse. The activist in me just could not believe how little people knew and how little people cared. And I’m just like, God dammit. These moms are the epicenter of the unfolding of this planet and to leave them stranded emotionally, hormonally, biochemically, energetically, leaving them fucking abandoned after birth is like the most emotionally violent thing — the top 20 most emotionally violent things — that I can think of. Because if anyone needs support, it’s the woman who just pulled a human being out of their body. And I love the well meaning people who are like, “Oh, if you’re depressed, just go for a run, you know?” And I’m like, “Oh, God, if it were that simple…don’t you think I’d be just running all day?”

What would you say to yourself if you could give yourself advice while in the throes of that depression?

I think it’s really a call to friendship and community. Just assume that a woman after birth needs a shit ton of support, whether it’s dropping food off or doing laundry for her and just lightening that load. And also just empathizing. Women are just kind of taken for granted oftentimes and are expected to do all these things and be happy. There’s this pervasive messaging that women with a baby in their hands should be happy and of course that’s what we all think we should be. But then when that doesn’t happen, and there’s no support for it, it’s quite devastating actually, because depression is rugged. It’s like this tar that coats you.  I’m thankful that I’m on the other side of this, I’m not gonna lie. 

How would you say your style has changed since becoming a mom?

I’m a super Gemini so for me I love chic and dirty. I love super, super super, haute put-together wow pieces and at the same time, it’s got to be comfortable. I’m a woman who’s almost 50, I can no longer tolerate radical discomfort of fashion. But at the same time, I just want to feel cute. When I was younger, I wanted to feel cute and as I get older, my running joke with my friends is I just want to feel presentable.

Clothing is such a self defining self expression thing which I live for. And I often tell people that when they’re choosing a t-shirt to wear during the day, that’s an artistic expression. That’s like you saying I’m this person today or for a few hours or for this evening. So I love how clothes can define us even for a moment and we can have fun with that and play with it. But for me, it’s always that delicate combination of a piece that I care deeply about, whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a pair of pants or a cool pair of shoes. And then just make it comfortable. Leisure meets gorgeous: my favorite combo. And Gap does that perfectly. 

What is one standout piece in your closet you can’t imagine ever parting with?

First of all, the fact that the 90s are being so loved up right now is a crack-up because now it’s sort of “cool great silhouette” with the “ill-fitting jeans,” whereas in the ’90s it was just straight ill-fitting. So I love the loose denim jeans that I have in the shoot because you can make that super chic and you can make it super casual and dirty bird so the hippy meets glam is such a great combo.

In terms of what I would not want to leave behind, I love talismans. Jewelry is talismans, just little anchor points. I have a lot of jewelry that represents my family bracelets and otherwise and so always a well-placed piece of jewelry that has some deeply sentimental value on top of something very casual. I also have to be able to run at any moment because of my kids, my kids are high-intensity and high-energy. So at any given moment, I have to be able to get sweaty and run after them, on the shoot or otherwise. 

What new music do you have coming up?

Well, I’m writing. I’ll likely be starting to write a new record in 2024 so I’m super psyched about that. And then this holiday season, we’re putting out a new song. Over the last four years, I’ve put a new song out every holiday time, so this year will be no different. And I just look forward to continuing that, it’s really nostalgic for me.

Holiday time is tinged with me feeling the planet. I’m an empath so I feel the planet during holiday times. And I always have, even as a kid, I would feel very deeply during holiday time, because I feel like I could feel all the people who are taking a break from work. So holiday time is yummy, because it’s so oriented toward community, connecting with your gang, with your chosen family, with your friends, with your family.

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