Gabrielle: ‘The eye patch alone was a talking point, so I made it bling’

As told to Leah Harper
Photograph: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock

This outfit, which I wore to the Brit awards in 1994, was quite quirky: a short jacket over a dress by Ann Demeulemeester. It had lots of layers and was quite Victorian-esque in parts. No one else was wearing anything that crazy. While all the other girls were wearing figure-hugging outfits, I was just doing my own thing and loving every minute of it. I’ve still got that outfit.

As a girl with an eye patch, I was used to being different. People were like: “Oh, Gabrielle’s giving us a bit of a pirate look,” but I was rocking it. I liked wearing glittery or sequinned patches because it felt girly. I liked the idea that, since the eye patch alone was a talking point, I made it something you could talk about. It was dazzling and it was bling – I had an array of them.

Related: Gabrielle: ‘I owe my mother everything. My dad’s irrelevant – he was just the sperm donor’

I had a lazy eyelid and knew that by concealing it I could feel confident; I felt I could put my best self forward. I have totally embraced it being part of my look, but what I find hilarious is that I only wore it for about a year. By the time it came to my second album, I didn’t have it on at all, but I will for ever be associated with the eye patch. I don’t mind, I actually love it.

It was my first Brit [Gabrielle won the award for British breakthrough act] and such a special event – my hair had been done by a guy called Junior from Aquarius hair salon in Finsbury Park, north London, and I felt like a million dollars. My makeup had been done by Pat McGrath, who also did the makeup for my first video. Jean Paul Gaultier was there to present an award and I thought: ‘I’d like you to dress me one day!’

The music industry still has a long way to go in terms of body diversity, but it has improved since then. Back in the day, I remember reading an article on the largest women in pop and I was in there – but so was Geri Halliwell, who’s teeny-tiny! Times have moved on – now we have artists such as Lizzo embracing being body-positive. I love that she’s trailblazing.

Gabrielle will play Mighty Hoopla festival in London on 6 June 2020 and her Rise Again 2020 tour runs from 9 November.