Honey Dijon in the House

Photography:
Steve Harnacke
Words:
India Hendrikse
Styled by:
Yana McKillop

Honey Dijon is supposed to be on vacation, but idleness isn’t her thing. We’re speaking at the end of February, and so far in 2024, she’s already been to New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Chicago twice, Milan, San Francisco and is headed to Costa Rica tomorrow morning. As a DJ and producer, she’s delivered the soundscapes to the hottest parties and events since she brought her chicago-hones house anthems to New york in the late 90s. In recent years, she released her second studio album, Black Girl Magic, collaborated with Beyoncé, and made her foray into fashion design. Here, we enter the Honey Dijon continuum.

Burberry coat, Boucheron bracelet and ring & Vrai necklace

“Growing up, I just wanted to create and I didn’t want that to have borders,” says Honey Dijon. I’ve asked her about the multi-faceted nature of her creativity, and whether there’s an avenue of it she’s most drawn to. “It’s the Honey Dijon continuum,” she replies. “Somebody just gave me that title. My favourite artists have always been Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe and Grace Jones. All of these artists traversed so many creative disciplines. There was never a separation of creativity. I’ve always tried to model my creative energy out of the people I’m a fan of.” After many years spent in New York and then Berlin, the Chicago-raised artist now calls London home. “It’s welcomed me with open arms,” she says of the city. In a testament to her artform-blending abilities, she debuted The Honey Dijon Experience in London in September. “I DJ’d with a live orchestra at Southbank Centre. It expanded me as an artist because when we think of performance and music, we think of singers or musicians with instruments, but it was great for me to expand the definition of what a live orchestra is.”
Honey’s an avid music collector. And lately, she’s been turning her attention to queer and trans artists. “I feel that is a voice that is often overlooked,” she says. “I wanted to take my gaze into my community. I’m inspired a lot by this trans artist whose name is Martine Gutierrez, she’s incredible. And Jonathan Lyndon Chase is incredible, too. I’m interested in the life lived through the queer person of colour perspective, the queer perspective or the marginalised perspective. That’s what’s inspiring me to look within my community of beauty.”

Gucci Jumpsuit

Supriya Lele coat, Christian Louboutin shoes, Messika earrings & Swarovski ring

As a trans woman, Honey is acutely aware that the global rise of populism and fascism has terrifying consequences for marginalised peoples. “I feel like we’ve taken some steps backwards in lots of ways. We’re regressing,” she says. “Women still don’t have a lot of agency over their own bodies or reproductive systems, so I feel that in a lot of ways, as much as technology has advanced us, human beings are still very antiquated in who is trying to control us and our narratives and our lived experiences.”
Honey tries to ease a fraction of the world’s heaviness, as well as champion visibility, through her art. “There’s a sense of hopelessness at the moment. It’s so overwhelming and there’s a sense of powerlessness. Art has always been a place for people to express that anger and sadness, and have a bit of escapism. But we also can’t live in misery every day either. And I’m saying that from a place of privilege because people in Gaza don’t have that luxury. But I do try more or less to contribute to humanity positively through my work.”
A colossal contribution of late was when Honey worked on Beyoncé’s 2022 album Renaissance. She co-produced the tracks Cozy and Alien Superstar, and her reverence for the megastar is clear. “It took a Black woman from the South to give a voice to a culture [Black queer culture] that’s been around since the beginning of time. Black queer culture has liberated so many things, and yet, it’s still oppressed. So I think it was awesome that Beyoncé went through the pantheon of Black music and Black culture, especially queer culture, and gave a voice to that, to her audience. I was so honoured to be a part of it.”

16 Arlington shirt, AWAKE Mode skirt & Chaumet necklace

Supriya Lele coat, Christian Louboutin shoes, Messika earrings & Swarovski ring

Mugler coat

Part of the sheer joy of seeing Beyoncé use house music is that Honey is part of its origin story. It’s the music she grew up with, clubbing in her hometown and the genre’s birthplace, Chicago. “Coming from the South side of Chicago and seeing house music culture in Renaissance and having her use house music anthems, I never thought that would have happened in my life,” she gushes. Chicago is where her family lives, and she has a deep respect for the music scene there. “I don’t get nervous playing anywhere around the world, except when I play in my hometown, because that’s the real deal,” she says. “The kids know their shit, so when I go there I have to bring my A-game. My friends are there and they won’t tolerate anything less than excellent. You can’t bullshit a Midwesterner.”
Bullshitting isn’t something Honey does, anyway. Black Girl Magic is proof of her brilliance, with Pitchfork saying it was her “most vivid release yet, jolting and joyous in equal measure”. I ask how it came about and what feelings she infused into it. “I’ve always been heavily influenced by the house albums of Lil Louis and Danny Tenaglia. Those are two of my biggest influences in music. Now, we live in singles culture, but back then it was about a body of work. I wanted to pay tribute to that time, but then the pandemic happened, then George Floyd, and then the Black Lives Matter movement, so it became a response to what was happening at that time. There was also a rise in violence against trans women of colour, so Black Girl Magic was a way of me responding to those things.”

16 Arlington shirt, AWAKE Mode skirt, Manolo Blahnik shoes & Chaumet ring

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello jumpsuit, vest, shoes, earrings & bracelets

Inhabiting the music world as a Black trans woman, Honey is conscious of how she’s perceived. “I never like to consider myself a role model,” she says. “I like to consider myself a role of possibility because I’m a flawed human being like everyone else.” I point out that despite her feelings, I’m sure many do see her as a role model. “I call it being a mirror of affirmation,” she responds.“You can’t be what you can’t see. So I like to be a mirror of affirmation to others because I didn’t have that.” In her continuum of creativity, Honey is now also a fashion designer. In 2019, she teamed up with Comme des Garçons and launched her fashion line, Honey Fucking Dijon. “I’m not a fashion designer,” she clarifies. “I’m a creative, and I use clothing as a communication tool of culture.” Her next collection, which is yet to be announced, is based around rave culture.
Despite the format she’s working in, be it producing, DJ’ing or designing, it’s apparent that what’s woven into her life and work is a commitment to expressing her truth. “Everything in my life has come from a place of love,” she says. “I’m not talking about romantic love, I’m talking about my love of music and love of art and love of culture and love of New York. I haven’t gone with the winds of change or what’s trendy or what’s hot, I’ve just really stuck to the music that moves me.”

Stella McCartney cape, Loewe coat, Ferragamo trousers, Christian Loubotin shoes & Swarovski rings

Photographer: Steve Harnacke
Stylist: Yana McKillop
Talent: Honey Dijon
Casting: Maria Joudina-Robinson
MUA: Mata Marielle
Hair: Mike O’Gorman
Nails: Sasha Goddard
Movement Director: Harry Price
Videographer: Mattias Pettersson
Photographer’s assistant: Oliver Webb
Stylist’s assistant: Sofi Chetrar
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