Billie Eilish wants you to know that she’s in charge, brash enough and self-confident enough to remove the polished image that helped win a world of fans in favor of something a little more… adult .
She is vampire this month on the cover of British Vogue, a portrayal of an artfully crafted provocation. The singer, once identified by her shock of green hair, has gone blonde and full bombshell, swapping her branded sweatshirts for a style more domme than deb: pink Gucci corset and skirt on Agent Provocateur skivvies, accessorized with latex gloves and leggings .
The choice was up to him, wrote Edward Enninful, the magazine’s editor-in-chief in the June issue. “What if, she wondered, she wanted to show more of her body for the first time in a fashion story?” Mr. Enninful recalled. “What if she wanted to play with corsetry and revel in the aesthetics of mid-20th century pin-ups that she has always loved? It was time, she said, to do something new.
To that end, Ms. Eilish embraced the used adornments of the feminine allure, offering the camera, without apparent irony, a nod to the sirens of Hollywood’s golden age and some more recent vintages: Taylor Swift, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion among them.
And she owns her look. A body positivity icon that once covered her curves under neon-toned tracksuits and hoodies, she seems to be done with it all. “My thing is, I can do whatever I want,” she told reporter Laura Snapes, before disarming potential enemies with a preemptive strike.
“Suddenly you’re a hypocrite if you want to show your skin, and you’re easy going and you’re a slut,” Ms. Eilish said in the interview. “Let’s turn it around and be empowered to do this. Showing off your body and showing off your skin – or not – doesn’t have to deprive you of respect. “
Indeed. “His refusal was his agency in this area,” said Lucie Greene, trend forecaster and brand consultant. “After all, like many of her Gen Z peers, Eilish has a sophisticated understanding of visual language and representation. She has built a clientele to confidently subvert the codes of beauty. And she applies the same confidence to that.
Still, some might well question her agency, asking whether, at 19, Ms. Eilish has the sense or the sagacity to deal with the possible fallout. Think Tavi Gevinson, the fashion blogger turned writer and actress once known for her chunky diapers and grandma’s glasses. Writing recently on The Cut, Ms Gevinson described taking a photoshoot at 18. Asked to lay on her bed, she dressed in a skimpy romper, “pouting,” she recalls, “with heavily wrinkled eyes and straight blonde hair. Of course, she couldn’t wait to get a picture of herself. And, she wrote, “if someone who was there told me the whole setup was my idea, I would believe them.”
Ms. Eilish also seems inclined to portray her metamorphosis as an artfully cheeky, self-determined update. Some fans are applauding. “She looks just as awesome now as she was in oversized clothes,” Karin Ann Trabelssie, a 19-year-old student from Jelina, Slovakia, said via text message. Like Ms Eilish, she once escaped scrutiny, hiding a frame she described as curvy under loose shirts and pants. Exulting at the new image of her idol, she wrote: “I very rarely see someone with a body type similar to me doing something like this. It’s empowering. “
Others feel betrayed. “Before: unique, different, a class of its own,” posted Stewin @jetztissesraus on Twitter. “After: general public, exchangeable, elegant and refined. Why?”
This question is sure to arise. In an earlier phase of her career, Ms. Eilish could claim the distinction of being unique. A stylist, she insisted, had no place in her life. “I could easily be like, you know what, you’re going to pick out my clothes, someone else is going to come up with my video treatments, someone else will run them and I won’t have anything to do with them,” said -she in a New York Times profile. “But I’m not that kind of person and I’m not that kind of artist.”
Yet for Vogue, she placed her confidence and her vaunted image entirely in a team, which in this case was led by Dena Giannini, the magazine’s style director, with input from top designers, including Alessandro Michele. from Gucci. Her transformation would seem to suggest Ms Eilish is content these days to ditch her once maverick stance in favor of a fetish-tinged bombshell look that looked worn out when Madonna was a girl. If his reinvention presents a risk, it is that of becoming just another cliché.