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31 Aug

How Lana Del Rey’s hair became a part of

From her bleached blonde Lizzy Grant era to the tragic aura that surrounded her voluminous Priscilla Presley-esque beehive, Lana Del Rey’s hair has all the time been a central a part of her performance

To begin with, Lizzy Grant had a laidback bleached blonde bob, swept to the side as she forged her eyes down on the quilt of the debut record that never was. It wasn’t until “Video Games” exploded on YouTube in 2011 that Lana Del Rey was truly born, her voluminous Priscilla Presley-esque hair do helping cement the vintage, tragic aura that has surrounded her ever since. This dramatic aesthetic shift was a part of the explanation why accusations arose in the beginning of the singer’s profession that she was fake, or an industry plant, but Lana’s hair has all the time been in conscious symbiosis together with her creative output.

Jump forward to today and the singer’s hair is a subject of conversation over again. When she arrived on stage late for her Glastonbury set last month, she apologised to the group, “I’m sorry, my hair takes so long”. As she took a seat on the onstage vanity set, her hair stylist, Anna Cofone, brushed her hair as she broke right into a stirring rendition of “Bartender” as if on the point of go and meet a possible lover. Her longtime make-up artist Pamela Cochrane joined as well to finish the image. The hairstyle itself felt deeply referential – a glamorous beehive finished with a silver diamante headband – paying homage to her past eras, indulging in the identical nostalgia provoked by the emotional visual odyssey that lit up onstage while the “Ride” monologue played.

Many fans would have perhaps preferred Lana played her full Glastonbury set, even when her hair didn’t look nearly as good, but to overlook the hair could be to overlook a key facet of her as an artist. It’s not about reducing Lana to her appearance because she’s a female musician, but somewhat acknowledging how she has leveraged her hair as a meaningful extension of her artistry. On her current tour, including last night’s Hyde Park show, Cofone joins her onstage, turning her hair into a part of her show. Lana’s hair has turn into so mythologised, it’s such an important element of the Lana Del Rey character, that now it’s now quite literally a part of the performance.


For many fans, the “Video Games” music video was their first introduction to Lana, and her hair. In it, she created a compelling visual montage that introduced us to her deliciously nostalgic universe. Her pouffed hairstyle referenced unravelling Old Hollywood glamour. It also served as a prelude to the over-the-top Amy Winehouse-inspired beehives she would often wear in public between 2011 and 2013 which made her feel like a tragic figure belonging to a different time. Lana felt a deep affinity to Winehouse, saying in 2021 that she “didn’t wish to sing anymore” when the singer died. Her beehive updos were in tribute to Winehouse as much as they were to the unique Nineteen Sixties icons who wore them.

There was a melodrama to Lana’s hair on the time that is probably best crystallised within the “Born To Die” music video where she became Tumblr’s unofficial patron saint of flower crowns, spawning a thousand interpretations across fashion blogs and music festivals. “Lana is chargeable for loads of mainstream hair trends, just like the festival flower crown,” says Kelly, who has been a fan of Lana since discovering her through Tumblr during her Born To Die era, “but I don’t think she gets the credit or it’s spoken about enough in popular culture. Hair is like the garments we wear on a regular basis that represent a culture we’re attempting to discover with or already do. Every styling decision of Lana’s past reflects her music and mood during that point.”


The one other time Lana played Glastonbury was in 2014 when the Tumblr-era obsession together with her reached its peak. By this point, her hair was much lower maintenance than the dramatic beehives and flower crowns that had cemented her image in the general public eye. She walked onstage in a straightforward tie-dye t-shirt dress, her dark hair cascading naturally down her back. On Ultraviolence track “Black Beauty”, she sang explicitly about dying her hair darker to reflect her lover’s preferences and moods – “I dye my hair a darker shade of brown since you like your women Spanish, dark, strong and proud.”

But as often as Lana has sung of sacrificing all of it for love, her hair has all the time felt like something she controls. It’s a mirrored image of her creative headspace in addition to her inspirations. In any case, she dyed her hair darker around the identical time she famously told The Guardian, “I wish I used to be dead already” while embracing this darker sound in her music too. “Lana’s hair changes, but it surely also doesn’t,” says Niamh, who was drawn to each the fantasy and vulnerability in Lana’s music in 2013 and has been a fan ever since. “Her Ultraviolence era was messier than the polished glamour of ‘Born To Die’ and it matched perfectly with the album’s heavier, messier, rock-inspired tunes. Her lyrics were more unhinged and even the production was messier. Her hair consistently aligns together with her artistry and lyrics and the direction of the album on the time. It’s a signifier.”


For her third album, Honeymoon, Lana’s hair continued to be a mirrored image of her music and she or he reverted to vintage glam to croon over swooping orchestral music that appears like it got here straight from an Old Hollywood film rating. Lust for Life, nonetheless, marked one other transition as Lana adopted a more laidback flower-child look with a smile on her face and daisies in her hair. Once more, her hair appeared to reflect her emotional state as there was a greater lightness to her music and lyrics. One line on the album’s title track with The Weeknd explains how “They are saying only the nice die young, but that just ain’t right”, marking a departure from the comments she made to The Guardian in 2014. In the music video, Lana wears a red headband with a rose playfully attached to the side. For her Dazed cover the identical yr, she was back in full glam with side swept polished curls that forged her as a real Old Hollywood starlet. 

For Esther, who has been a fan since “Video Games” got here out in 2011, Lana represented an antidote to “the Top 40, X Factor pop and Jack Wills preppiness of my rural highschool.” Her hair evoked nostalgia for an era neither Lana nor her fans had lived through, but that’s what made it so fantastical and escapist. Esther suggests that teenage Lana fans today appreciate her for her artistry greater than they do exactly for her aesthetic. “I feel like Tumblr Lana was celebrated more for her beauty and chic, retro persona,” she says, “whereas today I feel she’s being celebrated more as an entire person, with a variety of emotions, and for her poetry and lyrics. Not only as the gorgeous sad girl with perfect pin curls and eyeliner.”


That said, as Lana has found a latest generation of fans with their very own interpretations of her persona and aesthetic, she has turn into the high priestess of TikTok’s coquette aesthetic, the girlish style characterised by hair bows, ruffles and pearls. For her latest album, Did you recognize that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, Lana seemingly leans into this, wearing bows in her hair as she stares sultrily into the camera. After stepping back from the general public eye for a few album cycles Lana’s hair looks like it represents the cultural moment over again. 

Because the saying goes, “the upper the hair, the closer to God” and Lana has been a dedicated disciple to this principle for many of her profession. Perhaps that’s partly why her music sounds so heavenly. We’ll never know whether her hair was really the explanation she was late at Glastonbury that night, however the not knowing adds to the paranormal and otherworldly aura that continues to attract latest fans to her music. It helps maintain the mystique that used to surround stars before they became so accessible on social media, making her still look like she’s from one other era even when she’s doing something so contemporary as clipping her vape to a mic stand so she doesn’t lose it onstage.

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