The Reawakening of Gwen Stefani

Following a whirlwind of divorce, heartache, and the exhilaration of finding love again, our holiday cover star has every reason to feel joy this season—including the release of her first-ever Christmas album.

The Reawakening of Gwen Stefani

(Image credit: Kai Z Feng)

Gwen Stefani believes in miracles. Like actual, physical miracles. Which sounds weird until you think about her life over the past few years. “The whole thing has been crazy,” says Stefani, shaking her head with a bemused smile. “I mean completely, totally crazy.”

Gwen Stefani Marie Claire Holiday cover

(Image credit: Marie Claire/Kai Z Feng)

Sitting upstairs at Milk Studios in Los Angeles after a photo shoot, the singer is curled up on a velvet sofa, Francesco Russo stilettos kicked off and legs tucked under her, long platinum ponytail falling silkily over one shoulder like a stole. She’s friendly and chatty, almost guileless, her big chocolate-brown eyes spiked with mega lashes, her black Oscar de la Renta cardigan with sequined monkeys sparkling in the afternoon light.

By “whole thing,” of course, Stefani is referring to the wild ride that began with her very public 2015 breakup with Gavin Rossdale, her husband of 13 years, amid allegations of his infidelity, followed by a Rocky-worthy career comeback in which the 48-year-old—after years of being blocked creatively—channeled the pain of divorce into her first number-one solo record, "This Is What the Truth Feels Like." Then there was the little matter of falling head over heels in love with fellow Voice judge/country crooner Blake Shelton on national TV, to the delight of viewers everywhere. And, finally, there’s the fact that two years in, Stefani and Shelton seem more truly, madly, Instagram-tastically crazy about each other than ever.

For a long time, I could not understand why I’d had so much heartache in my life.

Gwen Stefani

(Image credit: Marie Claire/Kai Z Feng)

“He’s my best friend,” says Stefani simply, and though she claims not to want to talk about their relationship “too much,” she really doesn’t have to. Both her Instagram feed and the media feature a veritable bonanza of Blake and Gwen. Here they are hanging out at the Billboard Music Awards, celebrating his birthday with a cake decorated with an armadillo, wearing camo at Shelton’s 1,200-acre ranch in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. Here’s Shelton carrying Stefani’s 3-year-old son, Apollo, around Disneyland. Here’s Stefani promoting her new album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas (featuring guest vocals by Shelton), with a red satin bow on her head, or walking around Beverly Hills wearing custom Vans with Shelton’s face printed on the fronts. The whole thing could be a bit much if the couple didn’t seem so clearly like two people who’d been through hell before they finally found each other.

“For a long time, I could not understand why I’d had so much heartache in my life,” says Stefani, who’d been in only two serious relationships before Shelton—one for seven years with No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, the other for 20 years with Rossdale, the father of her three boys. Both men broke her heart. “I have parents who are still married and in love,” she says. “I had such loving role models. I didn’t understand it.”

Marie Claire

(Image credit: Future)

Here, a few highlights from her holiday cover interview, on newsstands November 28:

On what heartbreak taught her:

“What I learned was that my heartbreak was supposed to happen, that it was my purpose to write about and share my story. I met at least 50 to 100 people before each show on my tour and got to hear that my truth and my story translated, and I feel very lucky and honored knowing that."

Gwen Stefani

(Image credit: Getty/Kai Z Feng)

On finding spirituality:

“…Spiritual exercise got me somewhere. Some people like to meditate, do yoga, or just take quiet time, but for me–instead of how you talk to yourself, you pray. You surrender and ask for guidance. It’s not all about you.”

On life with Blake Shelton—recently named People’s "Sexiest Man Alive"—and how they spend their time on Shelton’s ranch in Oklahoma:

“It’s very tribal. Blake has a sister, she comes with her kids. We cook and get muddy and dirty. There are ATVs. Being a mother of three boys, it’s kind of the perfect place. Everything is real now, whereas before, things didn’t seem so real.”

On what’s she interested to do next in music:

“I would love to do something like [write a musical], just be a part of a writing thing, because that confidence has come back now, and I know I have something to offer. It used to be such a stress; there was so much doubt in me–now it’s like, Well, just go and write a song.”

Read the full interview and see more photographs in the holiday issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands November 28.

🎶 Listen to some of Gwen's holiday favorites here 🎶