This week Ruth Croft focuses on the pop star Dua Lipa and the trends she’s followed that have turned her into a worldwide icon.
Dua Lipa is one of the biggest pop stars in the world. Ever since she rose to international fame in 2017 with her eponymous debut album and the UK number one single ‘New Rules,’ she has been an icon in the music industry.
Her very first album was certified platinum in several countries worldwide, hit number three in the UK Album Charts, and she went on to win both the British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act at the 2018 Brit Awards. Soon after, her single ‘One Kiss’ peaked and became the longest-running-number-one-single of the year by a female artist. Less than two years later, her song ‘Don’t Start Now’ was awarded the most commercially successful single by a female performer in 2020. Throughout her career so far, Lipa has been nominated for fifteen Brit Awards, eight Grammy awards, and seven NME awards. She is a woman who has consistently broken records with her music, and stands as one of the world’s favourite female artists.
Born in London, Lipa was influenced from a young age to one day become a performer by her father, who was the lead singer of a Kosovan rock band called Oda. The house was always full of music, from David Bowie to The Police and Stereophonics. When she was still young, Lipa began taking singing lessons at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. This would inspire her to later upload her music to SoundCloud and YouTube, and acquire a producer and a manager.
In 2013, Lipa was working in a cocktail bar in London when she signed a contract with Tap Music Management. She soon began writing and recording music, including the hit ‘Hotter than Hell,’. This led her to the attention of Warner Bros. Records, who had been looking for a female pop artist for a long time. Lipa was their star, and together they signed a record deal.
A lot of Lipa’s previous singles rose to commercial recognition after her debut album was released. Songs like ‘Blow Your Mind (Mwah)’ and ‘Be the One,’ despite being broadcast months before, were suddenly getting more radio play.
Her 2020 album, ‘Future Nostalgia’, enhanced her success. With singles that topped the UK and US charts, ‘Don’t Start Now,’ ‘Physical,’ and ‘Levitating,’ Lipa had created an album that redefined dance-pop and electronic music.
In terms of being a pop icon, Lipa has both followed and created several trends. In this way, she has become unbelievably influential, especially regarding her female fans.
Not only is Lipa a talented artist who has perfected the art of writing some of the catchiest songs ever, but there is something incredibly likeable about the star. She’s certainly a force to be reckoned with in terms of her ambition. But she’s loving when it comes to her fans, regarding them as if they’re her friends, preserving her authenticity as a professional musician whilst also reminding us all that she’s a normal girl deep down. She’s grateful for the position she’s in.
She’s also incredibly outspoken when it comes to issues surrounding feminism, and fighting for better female representation in all aspects of society. She was quoted as saying, “Women for a very long time have been oppressed by the media. What’s happening now is sort of revolutionary – we stand up for what we believe in, what we feel comfortable doing, what rings true for us, and what makes us feel proud of ourselves.”
Pop stars are always put on a pedestal, but it’s comforting when young people can aspire to be someone like Lipa.
If you were to look at Lipa’s Instagram, you would see collections of photographs depicting an incredibly exciting life. Her millions of followers regularly see her sipping in wine bars in
Europe, going on girls’ trips, and performing to audiences whose iPhones light through the dark like thousands of white stars. For a woman who’s very busy, Lipa likes to party. She’s turned the ‘work hard, play harder’ aesthetic into a trend.
Now she has a lifestyle platform to take everyone with her. Service95 is a weekly newsletter founded in 2021 by the star, which is described as a ‘global style, culture, and society concierge service created to help the reader make sense of the world.’ It includes recommendations to bars, restaurants, and holiday destinations, whilst also providing readers with stories on pop culture, politics, fashion, beauty, and the arts. Each edition begins with a letter from Lipa herself, allowing readers to get to know her on a more personal level.
Lipa has said that the idea came to her from her social media content, and what she was writing in her journal. It was her desire to create a platform where she could divulge the hidden gems of her lifestyle, to take the beautiful parts of her content, and put it all in one place where both writer and reader could converse.
Lipa has also expressed her hope that the newsletter will have a positive effect on young people who are aware of the problems in society, but don’t know how to break them down. She said, “that element is really important to me. The whole idea is sharing information and helping each other.”
We know that social media is a rosy version of reality, but Lipa’s lifestyle has turned into a trend that many wish to emulate. If she’s not meditating by a night-lit fluorescent pool, she’s in a bikini drinking cocktails at the beach, or dancing at luxurious parties and events, looking pretty in polaroid pictures.
Lipa is a beautiful woman, but travelling for worldwide tours, walking red carpets in full glam, and attending press events on little sleep will have an effect on your skincare at the best of times. At the age of twenty-seven, Lipa has revealed the beauty trends she’s collected over the years to help take care of herself.
Her essential skincare routine is remarkably simple, consisting of a cleanser, vitamin B serum, moisturiser, and SPF. She drinks a lot of water, but also liquids with electrolytes to really boost her hydration. When travelling by plane, she applies a face mask to prevent the air conditioning from drying her skin completely. She claims to keep her face bare whenever possible, instead choosing eye creams and facial oils. If she is going out to record music or meet up with friends for a coffee, she might slick on some mascara, but that’s it for a casual day.
But being a worldwide superstar means that Lipa can’t always escape the heavy make-up. To perform on tour to hundreds of thousands of people means a lot of foundation, concealer, blush, and bright eyeshadow.
It’s the same on the set of music videos. In the video for ‘Physical,’ Lipa took inspiration from the colour pop trend, choosing electric blue and cherry red gloss for her eyelids to match her outfits. In ‘Break My Heart,’ she went for the full-brow look, with minimal eye make-up, and clear lip gloss. Both looks perfectly synced with the mood of the songs, and took influence from current beauty trends.
Since she rose to fame, Lipa has become a worldwide fashion icon. When she first arrived in the music industry, her look tended to fall into an edgy vibe, with slip dresses, leather jackets, miniskirts dripping with chains, and heavy jewellery – specifically chokers.
But as her debut album grew in popularity, and she was invited to more red-carpet events, we saw her step out in a more sophisticated look, with elements of haute couture. Her dress at the 2018 Brit Awards was a gorgeous pink tulle gown, with a skirt that burst from her hips like a heavy cloud. At the Grammys the following year, Lipa wore a Versace dress in white, black and gold, with a glittery bodice and metal jewellery.
In recent years, Lipa has chosen styles that take us back to the early 2000s, specifically the Y2K trend. She still likes a satin slip dress and camisoles, but she is also seen wearing tank t-shirts, butterfly crop tops, ripped denim jackets, and block high heels.
But it’s her costumes on the ‘Future Nostalgia’ tour that are the most beautiful and iconic. Her stylist team worked with Balenciaga and Mugler to create custom ensembles. One is a bright pink catsuit with a lace bodice, long gloves, and knee-high boots. It’s a super sexy look paired with slick-straight hair and pink lipstick.
Then there is her final costume, which is possibly the most iconic look she’s ever worn. The Mugler design was created by Casey Cadwallader, and showcases a black and silver glitter bodice, revealingly cut out in places, and embellished with 120,000 crystals. It’s perfect for one of her final songs, ‘Levitating,’ as she rises into the sky, the lights from the show reflecting off the precious stones.
As a trend-setter, Lipa is doing pretty well at succeeding. Whether it’s with her lifestyle, beauty, or fashion choices, she’s a starring role in the music industry and on social media, and it doesn’t look like she’s stopping any time soon. And with the tour set to continue in November, we’re just excited to see what else she brings to the influencer culture.
To read more of Ruth’s work, you can follow her on Instagram @thewriterruth or visit her website, thewriterruth.wordpress.com.