13 Times Lana Del Rey Was Inspired By Fashion And Beauty In Her Lyrics And Videos
When I think of the words "fashion and beauty" my mind immediately pulls up an image of the sultry, smoky-voiced singer and artist Lana Del Rey, whose own personal obsession with redefining society's beauty standards is extremely prevalent in her life. So it comes as no surprise that themes of fashion and beauty are profoundly influential in the music and lyrics of Lana Del Rey.
When I first discovered Lana Del Rey, I was scrolling around late one night on my Tumblr, when I kept seeing this video of a girl with the biggest, most pouty lips I had ever seen appear on my dash. Immediately intrigued, I decided to watch the video (titled "Video Games") to see what all the fuss was about, only to be greeted with this absolutely stunning woman who was both beautiful and sad — possessing an arid, sultry singing voice. She seemed to capture the essence of what it's like to be "a girl in love," with all the deep, jaded, beautiful emotion that comes with it. I was instantly enchanted.
Over the years, I have followed the music, art, and style of Lana Del Rey with extreme passion. She became my own personal muse (and #Queen), pulling off a smoky, musical siren sound (with a sad-girl-bad-girl style), fusing together street fashion with a classic Hollywood look. To me, she's every beautiful sad-girl's goddess. Not only is her personal style something I absolutely adore, but her music is hauntingly beautiful and tends to often be inspired by her own love for fashion and her obsession with beauty.
Del Rey makes no secret of the fact that she herself is captivated with the notion of so-called "perfect" beauty, fashion (both edgy and classic, but always feminine), and the way those things influence her life and subsequently, her music. And although Del Rey's lyrics tend to seem "controversial" and "anti-feminist" to some, to me she's honest, real, and true about her feelings on the expectations, troubles, and desires of a young woman growing up in this world. So let's have a look at 13 times Lana Del Rey was inspired by fashion and beauty in her music:
1. "I'm in his favorite sun dress"
"...Watching me get undressed, take that body downtown." In her debut single "Video Games," Del Rey sets the scene for a song about being in love, and comments on the feeling of being dressed in your partner's "favorite dress," completely evoking the joyful pleasure one can obtain by visually pleasing the one they love.
2. "I've got my red dress on tonight"
"...Dancing in the dark in the pale moonlight, done my hair up real big beauty queen style, high heels off, I'm feeling alive." These are the lyrics that begin the popular song "Summertime Sadness," which express just how amazing it can be to feel all "done up" as a woman. Wearing a red dress (which usually suggests a woman's desire to appear sexual) with one's hair all done up "beauty queen style" (big) and then kicking off your heels evoke that wild, free, exciting feeling of a party-girl ready to run wild.
3. "Blue jeans, white shirt"
"...Walked into the room you know you made my eyes burn." The first thing Del Rey notices when this man walks into the room is what he's wearing, of course, and this goes on to provide a very passionate first impression. Also in the song titled "Blue Jeans," are the lyrics, "You fit me better than my favorite sweater." Del Rey often uses her love for fashion as a way to express her feelings comparatively.
4. "High heels in her hands, swayin' in the wind"
"...While she starts to cry, mascara runnin' down her little Bambi eyes." In her song "This Is What Makes Us Girls," Del Rey depicts several situations of her "wild" youth, both wild in action and wild in emotion. What's so great about the details of this song is how they perfectly portray what it's like to be a young, teenage girl, and all the ups and downs of emotion you feel on the roller-coaster ride of youth, love, and coming-of-age.
High heels and "mascara" in this case represent the transition from "girlhood" to "womanhood," when young girls often begin to wear such things; whereas the "high heels off" and "swaying in the wind" alongside the running mascara from crying represent the still very innocent and impressionable emotions of a "young girl."
This song also goes on to mention, "The prettiest in crowd that you had ever seen, ribbons in our hair and our eyes gleamed mean, a freshmen generation of degenerate beauty queens," which further paints a picture of what life often feels like to a young girl trying to figure out what it means to be a woman. All the while, shedding light on the stressors society often creates by demanding young women be traditionally "feminine" and "pretty" on the outside (even if they feel broken inside).
5. "White bikini off with my red nail polish"
"...Watch me in the swimming pool, bright blue ripples, you sittin', sippin' on your black Cristal." In the song "Off to the Races," Del Rey again makes reference to the duality between innocence and sexuality, which we can see when she mentions her "white" bikini is off and her nails are painted with red.The song also goes on to mention, "Slippin' on my red dress, puttin' on my makeup, glass film, perfume, cognac, lilac fumes, says it feels like heaven to him," which evokes the sometimes pressure-inducing (other times enthralling) feeling women can have to get dolled up and dress provocatively, often with the intention of sexually stimulating a partner.
6. "Baby put on heart shaped sunglasses"
"...Cause we're gonna take a ride." The song "Diet Mountain Dew" makes a reference to heart shaped sunglasses, which were made iconic by the film Lolita, whose themes of a May/December romance (taking place mainly on the road) also appear quite often in the music of Lana Del Rey.
7. "Put your red dress on, put your lipstick on"
"...Sing your song, song, now the camera's on, and you're alive again." Del Rey uses the themes of "red" clothing and makeup (whether it's nail polish or lipstick) quite often to portray a woman "putting on her female sexuality" for the benefit of men, and for the world.
She uses it here in the song "Carmen" to help paint a picture of a woman whose senses of life, identity, and purpose revolve around being a "show" of heightened female sexuality. Only when she is wearing her red dress and makeup with the camera on her does she feel herself — it's all external.
8. "Honey put on your party dress"
The symbol of the "party dress" is used in the song "American" to suggest that when you put on your party dress, you are also getting into party-mode and thus, ready to have some serious fun.
9. "She wore blue velvet"
"...Bluer than velvet was the night, softer than satin was the light." With Del Rey's own love and obsession for using themes of fashion and beauty as metaphors in her music, it's no surprise that the sultry siren chose to cover the '50s original song by Tony Bennett, "Blue Velvet."
10. "'50s babydoll dress for my 'I do'"
In "Yayo," Del Rey cleverly mentions how she would to wear a "'50s babydoll dress" to her wedding as a symbol of the notion of the "ideal" life that was held in the 1950s: A pretty, submissive wife with a husband who looks after her and their family. Del Rey plays with the idea of that "traditional" love between a man and a woman all throughout her music.
11. "I know that I'm a mess with my long hair and my sun tan"
"...Short dress, bare feet." Again, we see Del Rey describing how she "looks" physically in order to portray a feeling of girlish, care-free youth in the song "Lolita."
12. "The other woman has time to manicure her nails"
"...The other woman is perfect where her rival fails, and she's never seen with pin curls in her hair anywhere. The other woman enchants her clothes with French perfume, the other woman keeps fresh cut flowers in each room."
Del Rey expresses the importance of "the other woman" needing to portray an image of perfect femininity, sensuality, and sexuality through means of beauty and fashion in her song "The Other Woman." Having her nails always manicured, makeup and hair on point, and "enchanting" clothing are the standards and pressures of the "perfect" mistress intending to try and keep her married lover always coming back to her.
13. "I wear my red lipstick, got my makeup on"
"...Stumble into trouble, siren with a sad song, they all got girlfriends but I'm the one that they want, Miss America with the blue mascara on." In her song "Driving in Cars With Boys," Del Rey once again drives the point home that having her sultry, sexually-appealing makeup on are part of what make her feel confident, sexy, appealing, and empowered.
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