Lorde and Miley Cyrus Might Be Two Sides of the Same Fashion-Forward Coin
Miley Cyrus and Lorde make me feel old. I’m barely 21, and hell, I could still grow an inch or two if I started eating my kale. But both of these girls are even younger — Miley is 20, and Lorde is 17—and, despite their tender ages, they're unequivocally superstars. (What have I been doing with myself? Not eating kale, evidently.)
Lorde’s pared-down alternapop and equally minimalist style are refined and cool in a way that most teenage girls can only dream of. Her single “Royals” off of Pure Heroine recently took the top spot on the Billboard 100 (from Miley, no less.)
And regardless of your opinion of Miley Cyrus' “pants-are-a-social-construct” look, the pop star has dropped a string of insanely catchy singles off of her Bangerz record. Plus, she might be making “hip-thug” a thing if her “We Can’t Stop” video is any indication.
These girls are musical powerhouses, and they look to be fixtures in the pop landscape, for better or for worse. But what’s even more fascinating about this particular duo is the iron-fisted control that they both seem to have over the aesthetics they project.
In one corner, we have Lorde, born Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Everything about her is minimalist, and perfectly curated — right down to her stage name, which was inspired by her interest in the English aristocracy. She doesn’t take selfies, she gives great Tumblr, and she writes her own lyrics. She also has a huge amount of creative control regarding her videos. Most of the casting and locations for her “Royals” music video draw from her own background in suburban New Zealand. And if you haven’t seen her video for “Tennis Court” yet, you must. It’s a study in restraint, featuring nothing but evocative lighting, and Lorde in a crown of braids, black contact lenses, and an ensemble best described as goth-nouveau.
In non-video settings, she shows similar subtlety. Her primary accessory is her enviable crop of wavy mermaid tresses, and she tends to alternate between chic basics and pseudo-Victorian monotones. Think white roll-hem tee and camel jacket one day, black mesh dress with white Peter Pan collar the next. It might be a darker look than we’re used to from our pop stars, but this isn't the Hot Topic emo that might first spring to mind. This shit is cool. Lorde commands attention — and style respect — without ever exposing more than her collarbone. Role-model alert.
Far to the opposite side of the precocious musician spectrum, we have Miley Cyrus, and probably a healthy dose of midriff. And sideboob. And ass-cheek. But that’s okay — she’s just bein’ Miley. It can’t have been easy coming into her own as a woman amidst the sugary goodness of the Disney Channel, and you gotta have some respect for a lady that rolled her rebellious adolescence into an enormously lucrative music career. Yes, she’s trying to tell the world that Hannah Montana is dead and buried, and she is doing so by grinding on giant Teddy bears, and that’s a little icky.
However, you have to give her props for using angst to her advantage, and it’s past time that we recognize her as the figurehead of a new wave of hipster-youth style. The hair is clearly a thing. (I like to call it “The Macklemore,” but I might just be bitter ‘cause I had short hair first.) She’s also figuring out all sorts of ways to make the crop-top sporty and sleek. She looks like she’s from the future, not Coachella — and that’s enviable. She’s also a little bit like Lorde in that she’s vibing with a more toned-down palette. There’s a lot less bling, and a lot more simplicity in what Miley wears — as long as we try to forget about the grillz.
This pair of rising stars might be the vanguard of a whole new pop aesthetic. From the outset, they appear to have totally divergent stylistic end games. But when it comes down to it, these ladies are bringing something very similar to the table, and it’s something completely different from what we’ve seen from Gaga, Bey, or Rihanna. Like the previous generation of female pop stars, Lorde and Miley are in total control of the image that they present, and it's a wholly sleeker aesthetic.
Maybe Miley’s antics don’t exactly scream “subtle”, but what’s more streamlined than straight-up nudity? And Lorde is bringing the minimalist a-game. These girls are trimming the excess from their music and their style. They’re aerodynamic, they’re coming up fast, and all those other pop stars best watch their backs.