Though Lana Del Rey is a model and H&M brand girl, her personal style has been a bit hard to pin down: onstage, she's been the vision of innocence, usually gussied for ditching church in pristine white lace and satin gowns. Offstage, she's the portrait of ultra-casual, doing jeans and ballet flats, T-shirts and cardigans, as typically American as the "Star-Spangled Banner" and Starbucks. It's a fashion duality that's equally reflected in her lyrics and musical persona, a bored, sweet woman with a bad streak. But leading up to the release of her second album Ultraviolence, she's been going all 7th season of Mad Men on us: like the show has transitioned from the innocent mid-Sixties to topsy-turvy, psychedelic '69, Lana Del Rey has mostly closeted her all-white, all-innocent stage gear for appropriately technicolor mini-dresses and multi-hued gowns. And with it, she has become what we've always suspected she is: a bright light in a dark world. By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
For the Cannes 2013 premiere of The Great Gatsby — and her theme song, "Young and Beautiful" — Del Rey looked her most elegant to date. It wasn't a color statement, to be sure, but the detailed embroidery on her Lena Hoschek gown was a sign she was looking for more sophistication than her normal tea-and-cakes frocks.
In Spain last July, Del Rey draped herself in a classic Seventies country star minidress and bouffant, landing anywhere on the style scale between June Carter and Dolly Parton to Tammy Wynette and Crystal Gayle — a student of the lace-edged bell sleeve, so much better whilst gesturing dramatically, my pet.
In one of Del Rey's last recent appearances wearing her signature stage whites, she was literally radiant, gleaming like the daughter of a Greek god-turnt-roller disco queen who just came alive via love and a wall mural. Not to digress, but the Xanadu plot was insane.
Again with the flowing bell sleeves, in Chicago last summer Del Rey channeled Seventies stars, this time maybe a bit more Cher or Marie Osmond with the dainty bluebell appliqués on a tangerine dream of a dress. Take it from someone who knows, though: Don't smoke a ciggy in that fabric, girl.
This is notable because Del Rey isn't quick to don a Nineties throwback trend — very Winona, ca. Matt Damon — but of course, even in combat boots she imbues it with Forties glam with a Hollywood silhouette and a slinky shade of wine (good for spills in case you're tryna drink some).
Now we're talkin! Del Rey's first foray at this year's Coachella bloomed with a neon red-and-purple Hibiscus pattern — our first inkling that she might be thinking in the key of "Zou Bisou Bisou." Her Rihanna-style neck-to-waist chain added a modern edge, but the overall theme was that of kitschy pineapple cocktails and karaoke under raffia tents.
A week later, Del Rey played on the theme, looking like the poster girl for the first-in-history Pan Am flights to Maui, and/or the little surfer girl some beach boys might like to talk up. Far more Pacific Coast Highway than PacSun!
Demure enough for a charity dinner… full-skirted enough to be a cake-topper. Seriously. We want cupcakes now.
Do Del Rey and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner have some sort of pact to troll fans? With the whole Internet assuming Megan Draper is a stand-in for slain star Sharon Tate, the most obsessed conspiracists could take one look at this Laurel Canyon-casual caftan and come up with infinite crazy theories and assumptions. At the very least: can we get Del Rey in as an extra in a party scene? It's the big easy!
Del Rey's been known to rep herb now and again, so why not with this tie-dye mini in Jamaican flag-invoking colors? No shame in the membrane.