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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

Lizzo is the 31-year-old, Detroit-born, flute-playing singer, rapper and songwriter whose album Juice was one of this year's breakout hits. Perhaps you saw her last week performing her song "Jerome" during the American Music Awards.

Her music is big and bold, and so is her look -- except when it comes to handbags, which we will get to in a minute.

Helping Lizzo with her fashion choices is stylist Marko Monroe, a North Little Rock native who now lives in Los Angeles.

He met the singer through Seth Pratt, a fellow Arkie, a couple of years ago.

"Seth is also a costume designer, and he was working with Brooke Candy, an amazing recording artist," Monroe says from Los Angeles. Candy was doing styling work for Lizzo, and she asked Pratt for help with a look for Lizzo's Water Me video. Pratt in turn reached out to Monroe, who pitched in and even made an extra top for the singer.

Soon after, Lizzo went on tour with Los Angeles sister trio Haim, performing in Monroe-designed outfits.

"It was an all leopard, Shania Twain-inspired look," he says. "I did chaps, a panty and bra set, a body suit, a cropped motorcycle jacket and a custom hat."

Monroe, 30, didn't start out to be a stylist.

He earned a degree in sculpture from the University of Central Arkansas and lived in New York, where he worked for sculptor Diana al Hadid, before returning to Arkansas. Monroe, along with boyfriend Hunter Wade Crenshaw and their friends, hosted themed parties as House of Avalon in Little Rock before moving to Los Angeles about three years ago.

Since becoming part of Team Lizzo, he has dressed the singer in haute couture from top designers at events like the Met Gala, the GLAAD Awards and the BET Awards.

At last week's AMAs, Lizzo strolled the red carpet in a ruffled, coral-colored, Valentino dress while carrying a white Valentino handbag so small that it was nearly dwarfed by her long, bedazzled nails.

"We have this ongoing obsession with tiny purses," Monroe says, adding that they were inspired by designer Jacquemu's minuscule bags. "It has been an inside joke with us since I first started working with her."

He built Lizzo's red carpet ensemble around the little purse, which sparked giddy and approving comments from outlets like vulture.com, cnn.com, avclub.com, today.com and others. (Lizzo's post-show selfies with a bag of Cheetos also won raves.)

Describing his job, Monroe says: "I get to have lots of fun, and I get to work with someone who is a friend. Before all this attention, it was just like traveling with a friend and getting to play. Now we're getting to play on a larger scale. We're not doing anything differently, but now more people are looking."

email: sclancy@adgnewsroom.com

A gallery of Lizzo's looks is online at arkansasonline.com/121papertrails

Gallery: Arkansans help shape Lizzo's look

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/121papertrails/]

Sunday on 12/01/2019

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