Lorde, help me

By Zoe Walker

Lorde on the cover artwork of her new single 'Team'.
Lorde on the cover artwork of her new single 'Team'.

She is everything that fashion worships - pretty, young and cool, with great hair - and as her star power increases, so does Lorde's influence on fashion here. For New Zealand designers, the Takapuna-born musician is providing an opportunity for global exposure the industry has not seen before.

There's Lorde, real name Ella Yelich-O'Connor, on the cover of Billboard in a sequin gown by Hailwood. That's her, photographed wearing a Ruby shift dress in the influential fashion bible Women's Wear Daily (they described the brand as "New Zealand's upscale answer to Urban Outfitters"). And there she is, talking to New York magazine's blog The Cut about Jimmy D's "witch-princess-y type vibe".

It has become a regular occurrence for brands to post photos on social media of the stylish musician wearing their clothes, barely able to contain their glee at such a lucky piece of marketing.

"Such an amazing performance by Lorde on the Jools Holland show. So stoked she is wearing Meadowlark there!"

"Beautiful Lorde wearing the Zambesi AW13 sport mini in her video for Tennis Court."

"Our favourite high priestess Lorde wearing the 'Oracle' jacket from Coop by Trelise Cooper. Available in store at The Co-op."

"Lovely Lorde in her Lonely Hearts AW14 picks."

Call her the Queen Bee of fashion: everybody wants to dress Lorde.

Lorde, wearing a Coop by Trelise Cooper coat, at the iHeart Radio concert at Vector Arena. Photo / Chris Loufte
Lorde, wearing a Coop by Trelise Cooper coat, at the iHeart Radio concert at Vector Arena. Photo / Chris Loufte


"Her music has a darkness to it, she's intelligent but there's also a strong sense of humour and sarcasm there," explains Jimmy D designer James Dobson of why he thinks fashion is so interested in the young star. He designed a dress in his summer collection with Lorde in mind.

Though it's flattering to have her champion his brand, Dobson says her strong social media presence is significant, too (she has almost 149,000 followers on Twitter, and 100,000-plus followers on Instagram).

"Any mentions can translate to new followers, which is essentially growing our database of potential customers. She recently re-tweeted me . . . I have never had so many re-tweets in my life."

Katherine Lowe, of the blog Katherine is Awesome, had one of the first interviews with Yelich-O'Connor, and the two have since become close. "I can't say I feel like her style has changed dramatically, but I have noticed she's got a lot more options."

That style has developed into a sort of bewitching, dark, ethereal aesthetic, offset by what Vogue has described as an "enviable cascade of curls". Dark lips and chunky boots: essentially a 16-year-old going through that stage of her style evolution.

None of this is accidental. Yelich-O'Connor has been very open about how aware she is of the power of imagery, and she has been selective about how she is exposed - for a long time there was just one photo of her available to the media, of her sitting regally in a Stolen Girlfriends Club dress (whose collection at NZ Fashion Week coincidentally had a perfectly Lorde witch-goth vibe; designer Marc Moore says though he hasn't designed anything for her specifically, he did think some pieces from that show would be perfect stage outfits).

Lorde wore at dress by Stolen Girlfriends Club in this early publicity photo.
Lorde wore at dress by Stolen Girlfriends Club in this early publicity photo.

Lorde has worked with the artist Sriwhana Spong on the looks in music videos for Royals and Tennis Court, although she is reportedly styling herself now. She loves fashion, telling Women's Wear Daily that she "loves clothes, but I'm really lazy and also really broke all the time". Being broke probably won't be an issue for long. Her Twitter background is currently the Hermes logo.

As her global popularity continues to grow, will she continue to wear New Zealand designers? There are indications she's branching out - she looked incredible at her Jools Holland performance last week in an outfit by London-based designer Claire Barrow - but local designers will be hoping she continues to champion their cause.

"If she's wearing your clothes, it's because she likes them and that's the best compliment you can have as a designer," says Dobson.

"The thing that stands out for me about Ella is that she knows what she likes," says Lowe. "She's pretty clear and level-headed about what she does and doesn't want to do - including what she wants to wear."


Lorde's debut album Pure Heroine is released on Friday.

- VIVA

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