Wavy dark hair framing snow white skin, high cheekbones and carefully painted lips, the singer Lorde is a bohemian from another time. Is she an enchanted witch or fairy out of a magical forest? No and no. She’s a complicated songstress whose modern tunes about alienation, boredom and romance have impacted the world.
Born in Takapuna, New Zealand on November 7, 1996 her original name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich O’Connor. “I changed it to Lorde because I was fascinated with royals and aristocracy,” she said. Her father, Van O’Connor, a civil engineer, and her mother, the Croatian poet Sonia Yelich raised her in a supportive environment. Later her early cultural influences would form her trademark. Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Etta James would teach her about pain and suffering, and Kurt Vonnegut and J.D. Salinger and other writers about literature. Journalistic and intensely personal her main strength as a lyricist is relating short stories within a song. Similar to another New Zealand writer, Katherine Mansfield, she isn’t afraid to be real.
In 2013, at 16, after she released her first album Pure Heroine, she was featured on Time magazine’s “list of most influential teens”. Her image became as renowned as her sound, and soon the admitted feminist, was being wooed by MAC Cosmetics and Vogue magazine. With MAC she collaborated on a mini line-a sultry plum lipstick. Pure Heroine, and an eyeliner, Rapidblack. (Naughton and Born, 2014)
Unswayed by trends she admitted to Vogue that “she liked pants, structured dresses, and other clothes that made her feel powerful.” (Burton, 2014) In 2017, with the release of her second album, Melodrama, she graduated from Comme des Garcons to Jacquemas and vintage Giorgio di Sant’Angelo. This transformation started in 2016, when she moved away from the all-black theme of her adolescence, towards a more colorful palette. One of the most fascinating things about Lorde is her ability to see colors upon hearing certain notes, because she suffers from “sound-to-color-synesthesia.” This disorder is really emphasized effectively in her video Green Room where the lighting changes with her emotions as she sings.
Joining the ranks of her icons, Stevie Nicks and Prince, she’s carrying on both a musical and style tradition, in her own unique way.
Naughton, Julie and Born, May. “Lorde on Influences and Cosmetics.” WWD, May 21, 2004
Burton, Cinya. “Lorde on Fashion: My Style Icons Are David Bowie and Grace Jones.” eonline.com, February 19, 2014