From indie artist to teenage fashion icon
From indie artist to teenage fashion icon
It is not every day when an influential artist beaks out in the eye of the public. In the age of millennial avocado toast and Gen Z’s TikTok, the world of music has become a diverse place than ever before. Rise of social media gave a platform for independent artists, or popularly known as ‘indie artists’, so they could share their art form with the world. While the benefits have been reaped by many, only a few could match Billie Eilish.
It was 2016 when a 15-year-old Billie Eilish uploaded a song called ‘Ocean Eyes’ with some help from her brother Finneas on an indie music platform ‘SoundCloud’. She woke up to thousands of people hearing her song on the platform and the song became a viral hit. The Los Angeles-based singer quickly became the face of the indie music scene, and by the end of 2017, she was everywhere after having her EP titled ‘Don’t Smile At Me’ release everywhere.
Billie mastered her unique voice coupled with clever production from her brother Finneas all while chilling in her bedroom. The 16-year-old then went on to perform at various locations and TV shows while working on her debut album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go’. The album went on to break records and even winning a Grammy. Billie was quickly thrown into the pop music scene, and has her latest release ‘No Time To Die’ set to be the theme for the next James Bond movie.
While achieving this level of fame and recognition at such a young age is certainly overwhelming, Billie is also influential in the fashion world. But to evaluate her fashion aesthetics, her persona needs to be explored first. There is no denying that she is a teenager unlike any other. While her competitors are busy focusing on music, Billie has managed to create a visual language with her followers that not only resonates with the music but also engrosses people listening to the music. It feels as if Billie invites you over to her world and gives you a glimpse of her mind. This speaks to the younger audiences who are hungry for content, and the more they get it, the better.
Let’s take her music videos from her early times as an example. Her video for ‘Ocean Eyes’ is a pastel-coloured dreamy journey of heavenly vocals, which were very trendy during the Tumblr-aesthetic days. It is not until the video of ‘Bellyache’ that we see a transition in her singing as well as visual style. She is seen wearing oversized T-shirts, jackets and pants. This particular aesthetic was gaining momentum into what we call ‘streetwear’ today. Monochromatic neon colours with bold baggy silhouettes started to become her aesthetic during her EP’s promotion unlike body-hugging overtly-sexualised glam of her peers.
This aesthetic was extended further as her music entered the realms of trap and hip-hop. Comparing ‘Ocean Eyes’ with ‘bad guy’, there is a clear distinction in her vocal delivery, her sound production as well as her performances. Her album era ushered in eerie, almost demonically chaotic visuals which were supported by her tracks that exuded otherworldly bliss. Complimentary to that, her outfits in public appearances changed from solid T-shirts in favour of monogram ones from luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. These brands had just entered the streetwear market and their oversized silhouettes became Billie’s favourites.
Billie is seen as a rebel in the music industry and her clothes speak the same language. Baggy clothes are a staple in her outfits and she experiments with colours that are neon and bright. During a Calvin Klein ad, she cited her reason for wearing such clothes – which is she doesn’t want to portray herself as sexy. Instead, she appeals to an audience that cares less about her figure but more about the ideology of a rebel that she represents. This is why embracing hip-hop after making it as an indie artist sounds completely Billie.
Billie relies on trends that are popular among her audience and moulds them into her own aesthetic, which seems to be successfully pulling eyes from various demographics. Fashion also seems to be taking notice of Billie as Valentino’s Fall-Winter 2020 collection had Billie’s song as the background for Pierpaolo’s collection.
Coachella, which is deemed as the fashion event for the millennials, saw Billie’s performance which included her performing her set in an oversized white hoodie with rhine-stoned ‘Siberia’ dazzling across the hoodie, which was paired with white shorts and matching sneakers. Another of her performance at the Grammys saw her wearing the Gucci monogram printed all over her jacket and trousers that hid the bright neon green undershirt which matched her hair colour. Her most recent red carpet look was the head-to-toe Chanel ensemble at the Oscars 2019, which had a beautiful white tweed overlay and an embroidered Chanel logo in black and grey that tricked the viewers into looking like a scar from a hot iron cast.
All these outfits are right on trends and put her in a different league of her own without showing off curves or skin. This is what made her influential in the fashion scene. Music artists are often considered to have no sense of fashion which does not hold true in the modern times. Icons like Rihanna have proved that fashion and music go hand in hand and Billie’s example is an indication that the relationship isn’t going anywhere.