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Songstress Lana Del Rey is spring fashion's poster girl

Lana del Rey is being groomed as this season's style icon, much in the way Madonna was back in the day.

Lana del Rey is a 25-year-old American songstress whose beauty-queen looks and prom-queen style fits the current Americana mood of spring/summer 2012 as snug as a white lace glove.

She is fast becoming the poster girl of fashion. (It was never going to be Adele, after Karl Lagerfeld called her, rather unfairly, "a little too fat".)

Christopher Kane chose del Rey's breathy breakout single, Video Games, to be the soundtrack of his show during London Fashion Week last September.

Christian Dior booked her to play before its spring/summer 2012 show in Beijing last December. The same month, Mulberry got lovely Lana to sing poolside at a groovy party at Los Angeles' Château Marmont.

Fashion and music have a habit of getting all tangled up and currently, it's proving difficult to work out which world Lana should inhabit.

Since winning Next Big Thing at the Q Awards, the Indie music industry's equivalent of the Oscars, she's become the crowned cover girl of the spring fashion glossies.

Following in the footsteps of Florence Welch, Cheryl Cole and one-time chanteuse, Victoria Beckham, Lana is the latest musical offspring to appear on the front of British Vogue's March issue. Inside, too, she poses on a fashion spread looking every inch the leggy model. But is there substance to her imitable style?

Del Rey doesn't sound like she comes from the manufactured Simon Cowell school of pop, which is refreshing. Her image, born mostly online, (very "of the moment"), also singles her out from her peers.

YouTube made her a star. Her debut received several squillions of internet hits accompanied by a "homemade" style video resembling a mood board of internet photo-grabs, striking a chord with kids influenced by Tumblr and blogs as much as fashion shows.

Her fashion-heavy image is even drawing comparisons with the pop icon Madonna. Madonna initiated her career at the start of the MTV era and used image (and fashion) as a weapon, hauling herself up by her bra straps - quite literally - in a bid to win maximum exposure. Thanks to Madonna, fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana became household names, something that the fashion industry has never forgotten. It's been in cahoots with the music industry ever since.

Of course, not every popster will automatically get a Vogue cover. It took Rihanna years to show off her curves on the front of US Vogue (in April 2011). Could this be because her image was inconsistent in the early days, or because it was a dedicated "shape" issue (ouch!)?

Lady Gaga, meanwhile, doesn't have the innocent charm of the spring collections. No Vogues for her in the foreseeable future.

There might be another reason del Rey finds herself in demand. Lana's flowing locks and signature heavy make-up make her a natural pin-up for the beauty and cosmetics industry, which are joined at the hip with fashion.

In this brand-conscious, label-endorsing world, it's important for a singer to have ambitions about fronting a designer campaign. So what do we think? Will del Rey be the next face of Prada, Chanel or Marc Jacobs?

Not if Madonna gets there first. While this might well be del Rey's "moment", so long as she can kick her own height and pull off catwalk-hot Givenchy couture at an event watched by millions, there will always be Madonna.

Charging out in a gold chariot pulled by Roman centurion muscle men (a tribute to Liz Taylor in the 1963 movie, Cleopatra, apparently) for her Super Bowl halftime performance, a month before her 12th album comes out and her latest tour starts, the 53-year-old validated herself as Queen of Fashion, with Nicki Minaj, MIA and Cee Lo Green as accessories.

Collaborating with young creatives allows old-timers to keep nailing the zeitgeist as Madonna, mistress of reinvention, knows.

The Swedish fashion giant, H&M, now in its 65th year, does too. They have cleverly gotten Sofia Coppola on-board to direct the latest H&M/Marni fashion film, starring the British actress Imogen Poots wearing some of the best prints of the season.

But the best music/fashion collaboration-of-the-minute comes courtesy of a 96-year-old. Paris Vogue, still considered the oracle of fashion, relaunched its digital website with an e-movie featuring the achingly cool editor-in-chief, Emmanuelle Alt, in an homage to Wham! (the title is Go go to the new Vogue.Fr). Dressed in a white, logo-ed T-shirt and shorts, she mimes to George Michael's 1980s hit with no hint of irony. The back-up singers are the supermodels Karmen Pedaru, Anja Rubik and Kendra Spears, but interestingly enough, no Lana del Rey.

Julia Robson is a London-based fashion journalist, broadcaster and stylist.


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Updated: February 12, 2012 04:00 AM



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