"I have multipersonality disorder -- in a very good way, of course -- when it comes to my fashion choices," says the singer, who dazzles on the cover in a silver tank dress by Reed Krakoff and minimal makeup. "When I first started playing around with my look, it was more of a Dita Von Teese pinup thing."
It turned out, however, that the burlesque look was too time consuming. "Dita's really dedicated," notes Perry, who posed for photographer Alexi Lubomirski in sophisticated, stripped-down styles like a sleek dark Dolce & Gabbana suit with a white tie-neck blouse, and a flirty white dress and sky-high platforms from Calvin Klein with Alexis Bittar cuffs.
While Perry may have taken style cues from Von Teese, she doesn't want to be confused with colorful contemporaries like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Fergie.
"We're all unique. That's why we all win and we all can exist," she explains. "People don't want just vanilla. They want 31 flavors. I couldn't do what Rihanna does. I couldn't do what Gaga does. They can't do what I do."
Like those women, Perry often sports outrageous styles, perhaps because her not-quite-model-perfect body can make dressing difficult.
"I'll tell you about my boobs and fashion: It can be hard to wear those looks," she says of couture clothing, "because they're best on people who have no curves or thighs. I don't have a Kate Moss body, but I'm very proud and happy with mine."
That wasn't always the case. Perry reveals that at age 13, she wanted to get a breast reduction. "I had really bad back problems and was a little bit thicker," she explains. "Then I grew up and lost the baby fat and said, 'Hey, this isn't all that bad.'"
Elmo might disagree. "Sesame Street" recently snipped Perry's duet with the Muppet over fears that she her low-cut top showed off a little too much of her lung power.
As for her "SNL" skit poking fun of the scandal, she says matter-of-factly, "How do you respond otherwise?"
While Elmo may not be returning Perry's phone calls anytime soon, she could care less now that she's found bliss with hubby Russell Brand.
"I always knew I wanted a great man of God, someone who was going to be an inspiration for people and also be a lovely husband and father," she says.
"We're at different places in our lives, but we can still grow together. He's thought-provoking, articulate, a real advocate. I also definitely wanted to have a laugh. I have all that in him."
In related news, check out the gold dress currently starring on six magazine covers.