Janetta Mackay: Lorde, and finding your own look

By Janetta Mackay

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Lorde's Grammys makeup was done by New Zealander Amber Dreadon of M.A.C. She wears one of her favourite lip colours M.A.C Heroine. Photo / Jason LaVeris courtesy of Getty Images and M.A.C
Lorde's Grammys makeup was done by New Zealander Amber Dreadon of M.A.C. She wears one of her favourite lip colours M.A.C Heroine. Photo / Jason LaVeris courtesy of Getty Images and M.A.C

Some people seem born with innate style, others spend their lives looking for it. Having your own look - and carrying it off with confident appropriateness - is central to the definition of being truly stylish as distinct from being merely well dressed, wackily individual or a fashion tragic.

But having your own look is also asking for trouble, or at the very least critique. Celebrities, of course, court this. It helps keep the camera on them, but many convincingly carry off little more than looking obviously "styled".

That's why Lorde is an interesting case in point. All that internet chatter about her cascade of hair, her "goth" lips, and now her black tips. Even at Viva we offered pre-Grammy suggestions on what Lorde might wear and detailed her makeup "look".

Pity poor Ella Yelich-O'Connor getting all that attention at her age. Not for the music - Lorde has earned those accolades - but for how she scrubs up in her performance persona.

Pretty well, I'd say, but commenting beyond that in anything other than general terms seems both fatuous and churlish. So we won't.

Teenagers should be free to experiment with fashion and beauty before they come under serious scrutiny. Most either dress like sheep or to reconcile image with intent, the latter being a life-long journey.

Lorde is clearly not a sheep, so she remains one we will be hearing more from. As appears the case with her music management, she has good people around to help realise her vision. (M.A.C.'s senior makeup artist Amber D travelled up to Los Angeles and added an enviable glow to her porcelain skin. Lorde's look, she explains, "We wanted to keep the look fresh and radiant. Modern, a bit boyish and darkly cool with a lip focus.")

Let's hope she can factor in - or screen out - dealing with other people's projections of what she should look like.

Flawless skin may be an expectation, but thick skin would be an essential. MTV likened the nail art she wore during her Grammy performance as akin to having fingers afflicted with the Black Plague. That's just cosmetic, a bit like Lorde's witchy poo stagecraft, but barely scratching the surface it is encouraging to see she does seem to have something to say. Quite what will be broadcast now that she is slap bang in the middle of an industry machine remains to be seen.

So let's not hail a barely 17-year-old as the new face of fashion or voice of feminism, nor slag her for bypassing red carpet glam in favour of neck-to-toe black Balenciaga gowns.

I have lots of hair, I won't flaunt my body, I like to cloak myself in mystery isn't a bad starting point. Give her a few more Grammys and then we'll get sharper eyed. By then, Lorde be willing, let's hope Ella is truly still her own homegrown woman.

- VIVA

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