Lana Del Rey radiates the legacy of an era that no longer exists. She’s the malaise of a mid-century American summer, the divine days of old Hollywood, and the madness of an On the Road adventure. By weaving her sonic and visual art of the present in with threads of the ’50s and ’60s, Lana Del Rey has crafted a persona in herself dressed delicately in nostalgia.
Now on the cusp of the release of her new album Lust for Life, the singer has said throughout this album roll-out that she feels as if she has less of a persona and is more herself — the elusive Lizzy Grant — more than ever. Though Grant and Del Rey seem to be nearly one in the same, Lana’s position in the past, reflective of Grant’s longing for a time she never experienced, is what makes Lana Del Rey so mysteriously Lana Del Rey.
Though Lana may find herself adapting her identity towards the now, Billboard takes a look back at some of her most nostalgic outfits that define the singer and the story of who she is.
Early Born to Die photo shoot
New Lana Del Rey photo by Nicole Nodland. pic.twitter.com/NSmFL3yp
— Del Rey Newsflash (@DelReyNewsflash) May 4, 2012
Lana Del Rey has placed herself in another time through fashion ever since her debut. In one of her early promotional shoots with photographer Nicole Nodland, the singer made her vintage style clear in a stunning circle skirt, collared crop top, and headband fit for burgeoning Bel Air star from the early ‘60s. Though simple, the statement outfit flawlessly shows that Lana is a star searching for a forgotten age of the silver screen, admiring the distant decadence from afar.
Fringe jacket in the “Ride” music video
Lana Del Rey has long been infatuated with the days of the open road, singing songs about heading west like her cross-country anthem “Ride.” In the short-film-like video she plays a roadside singer obsessed with the easy riders and her outfit in the opening scene featuring denim cutoffs, an acid-washed fringe jacket, and cowboy boots is one of her most unique, striking ensembles. Swinging on a tire in the barren plain as her hair “real big beauty queen style” flutters in the breeze, she looks like she owns the desert and intimately reveals her yearning for a Kerouac existence. With hair and fierce outwear like that, Lana knows she is too big for just a town off the highway.
Music video for “Love”
In Lana Del Rey’s music video for her Lust for Life single “Love,” she appears out of this world in a delicate long sleeve lace dress like that of the ’70s with daisies in her hair and platform clogs on her feet. The ensemble feels resonant of her friend and collaborator Stevie Nicks, as if she’s longing for a contemporary Summer of Love like the song suggests. Though “Love” is off her forthcoming record that may distance Grant from her persona, the video shows Lana as a twentieth century muse in white, reminiscing on kitsch sci-fi pop culture. Here, Del Rey is still enamored with nostalgia, but may artfully moving into the future from the surface of the moon.
Eurockéennes de Belfort Festival in 2012
At the French music festival Eurockéennes de Belfort in 2012 Lana Del Rey graced the stage in one of her most iconic performance looks. Though the singer is known to perform in ethereal white, vintage-style dresses, her Mal-Aimée dress at the fest looked right out of a ’60s look book with its simple cut, pleats, and embroidery. With a headband that matches the dress’ waist pumping her hair up in a beehive and cross necklace, Lana looks ready for communion in the chicest way possible, reflective of her obsession with the quintessential days of an innocent Americana and its boredom.
Her blue dress in the “National Anthem” music video
The music video for the Born to Die track “National Anthem” finds Lana a vision in blue in a sweet, early ‘60s style dress as she plays the Jackie Kennedy to A$AP Rocky’s JFK. With her hair dolled up in a classic mid-century ‘do, the musician looks like a regal, yet sultry, Jackie O., making it the ultimate look to embody Lana Del Rey’s entrenchment in nostalgia. As the video chronicles Lana’s money-obsessed, party-induced version of the Kennedy’s Camelot, she kills it in her decades royalty ensemble, while simultaneously inviting us into the world she longs for — her own version of a kingdom that no longer exists and she was never part of.