The new ultra-wide silhouette calls for a level of self-assuredness and confidence, which British singer Dua Lipa has in strides. By Zara Wong.
Dua Lipa works so hard that she has been on tour for two years, with one more year to go. Although for the 22-year-old British musician, performing and dressing up is less ‘work’ and more a driving passion that has existed for as long as she can remember. “I’ve always wanted to sing and perform,” she says after her Vogue shoot. “People have asked when was the first time I realised I liked music but it’s never been a thing; it’s always been around. I never had a plan B.”
So relentless is her approach to her career – stellar so far, with a list of accolades and record-breakers so long it would take up most of this paragraph to include them – that during her recent Australian tour, Lipa was forced to take time out for emergency wisdom teeth surgery. “You just have to get it done,” she says with a rueful smile on having delayed the process before it came to a head during the Australian leg. “I was like: ‘Wow, great, in Australia – I didn’t expect this!”
While many musicians are introduced to the fashion world through their music careers, Lipa says it was an interest from early on. Growing up, she would read her mother’s issues of Vogue and create scrapbooks of her favourite images. She also remembers being struck by both the sound and imagery of artists such as Pink. “That hair on her Missundaztood album!” she exclaims. “That was such a look.”
Lipa’s own style can be seen in some of the most memorable music videos of the past 12 months, such as the pop-tastic film clip for New Rules, which Lorde proclaimed to be one of her favourite music clips of the moment.
“It’s not necessarily the putting together of the image that is important, but being able to represent yourself and who you are as an artist that is important to musicians,” she ponders aloud. “When I get involved in
the fashion world, it’s another outlet for my creativity, another extension of my music and who I am as an artist. Fashion is an extension of what I’d like to say, another part of me, so from the very beginning I had quite a clear idea of what I like to wear.”
Embracing the silhouette of wide-legged pants with fitted tops was a logical step from her on-stage to off-duty looks, which include tracksuit sets or cropped tops (that show off her boxing-honed midriff) with matching pants, as seen in her chart-topping IDGAF video clip. She says the turtleneck with black pants (see below) was a favourite look from the Vogue shoot. “It was really cool, and the low camera angles the photographer used were really fun,” she notes astutely. “I’ve always liked to play dress-ups.” Even as a teenager, the singer experimented with her wardrobe, regularly canvassing the high street: “Different colours, different styles – I would never limit myself and would make the looks my own by accessorising and layering.”
While shopping in her local stores back home is less of an option for her, given her busy touring schedule, she still buys online, sending packages to her parents’ address.
Born in London to Kosovar-Albanian parents, Lipa moved with her family back to Kosovo at the age of 11, before returning to London on her own at 15. “I always knew I wanted to sing, but didn’t realise how much until I didn’t have the opportunity to do it on the scale I wanted to,” she says of her time in Kosovo.
Three years after arriving back in London, at just 18, she signed a record deal. “That was when I realised it was real; the record deal meant I could quit my job as a waitress,” she remembers with a laugh.
Her style, it seems, sashays from boyish to feminine – like the Giambattista Valli haute couture tulle gown she wore to the Brit awards where she won Best British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act. “That was my dream dress!” she says. “I remember the box when it came in – it was humongous. When we unpacked it, the dress went on and on and went around the little island in my kitchen and so when I tried it, I couldn’t move! Piling it in the car was really tricky. I had to go into the car backwards and lie on the dress.”
On the day of the shoot the team is taken aback when Lipa turns up to the studio wearing a short, summery wrap dress that she bought at Bondi markets. “It caught my eye and I’m obsessed with it!” she says. “Day to day I dress depending on how I feel – mostly trackies and a crop top, a hoodie and a scarf and heels. Most of the time, it’s whatever won’t crease, because I have to get around really quickly!”
While Lipa is mostly identified as a pop musician, her lower-pitched voice (as a child, she was once told it was too low for choir, making her doubt her musical ability) means she can experiment more musically. “It’s crazy and surreal and exciting, all at once,” she says of achieving smash hits.
In 2017, Lipa was the most streamed female artist on Spotify in the UK, beating out Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, while her track New Rules hit more than a billion views on YouTube, making her the youngest female musician to reach that mark. “I love pop music and it’s something I’ve grown up with, but my music is diverse, and I feel like that’s similar to how I like my fashion – it’s quite playful and unexpected.”
“FASHION IS AN EXTENSION OF WHAT I’D LIKE TO SAY; ANOTHER PART OF WHO I AM”
Burberry top, $700. Moncler pants, $1,735. Alinka earring, $2,505 and $1,846 (in left ear). Fear of God shoes, $1,250, from Harrolds.