07 September 2022
Talented singer, cutting-edge fashion icon, Generation Z idol, committed and feminist artist, honorary ambassador of Kosovo… the English singer-songwriter of Albanian origin Dua Lipa has become in a few years one of the superstars of the most endearing and in tune pop of its time. While she is the muse of Free, the new perfume by Yves Saint Laurent, meeting with an artist whose independence and humanity fascinate us as much as her hits, both ultra danceable and very emotional.
Dua Lipa in Saint Laurent
Dua Lipa in Saint Laurent
Dua Lipa in Saint Laurent
Dua Lipa in Saint Laurent
Dua Lipa, muse of Libre, the perfume © Yves Saint Laurent
On Instagram, where she is followed by more than 86 million followers, Dua Lipa is not a star like the others. Humble, warm, smiling, spontaneous, authentic, she embodies, not the untouchable goddess on a glittery pedestal, but the reassuring and endearing face of the best friend or the big sister. We can see in colorful photos the 27-year-old English singer-songwriter of Albanian origin (from Kosovo), blowing candles on a birthday cake, drinking natural wine while pronouncing a few words in French, antiquing at the Puces de Saint-Ouen or dancing at a wedding as if there were no tomorrows. An immersive and uninhibited way of sharing with the world a daily life completely in tune with the habits and aspirations of Generation Z, of which the artist has become the idol.
But make no mistake about it. The incandescent and sexy Briton is actually one of the greatest pop artists of the moment, in line with Rihanna, Beyoncé or Lady Gaga. With her powerful hoarse voice and her unifying retro-futuristic music (which mixes disco, funk and electro), she managed to attract praise from critics and the love of the public. Her first name means “love” in Albanian. Rewarded by several Grammy and Brit Awards, the one who started by posting impressive covers on YouTube collects prestigious collaborations (Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Kylie Minogue, Angèle) and hits (New Rules, Fever, Physical) accumulating billions of streaming plays. Her second album, The Hedonistic and Bright Future Nostalgia (2020) served as a remedy for the melancholy of the lockdowns, chasing the anxieties engendered by the pandemic to the beats of pop anthems influenced by the disco era.
But while many artists of this stature lock themselves in their ivory tower, this daughter of Kosovar immigrants (a singer father in a rock band, head of a communication agency, and a travel agent mother) has remained deeply human and connected to the world around her, as shown by her struggles (especially towards the LGBT and pro-feminist community). The star created the Sunny Hill Foundation charity, named after the Pristina neighborhood where her parents grew up, to help young Kosovars develop artistic projects. Always in a approach of benevolent proximity, she is at the initiative of a newsletter, Service95and a podcast, aptly named At Your Serviceboth launched this year.
The one who was named honorary ambassador of Kosovo interviews personalities like Amal Clooney, Olivier Rousteing, human rights defender and Nobel Prize winner Nadia Murad and British actor and activist of Pakistani origin Riz Ahmed. As powerful as it is committed, the pop icon had everything to become the muse of an essence called Free, the perfume. This new floral and sensual juice signed Yves Saint Laurent, was designed as a bridge between France and Morocco, a country dear to Yves Saint Laurent, the couturier. This great creator used to say: “Without elegance of heart there is no elegance.” He would no doubt have loved the muse and generous and passionate artist that we met to talk about music, beauty and fashion.
The video for “Levitating” (2020) by Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby
Number: You are muse of Free, the new fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent. What do the Yves Saint Laurent perfume label and the Saint Laurent fashion house mean to you?
Dua Lipa : It is an honor for me to be part of this campaign and of the Yves Saint Laurent/Saint Laurent family. I am very attached to what this big house means for women. She forged a powerful connection between female strength and empowerment and gave women the opportunity to feel strong and sexy. I think of what Yves Saint Laurent did with the tuxedo, then the suits. He was the first, in the 60s, to imagine one for women. It’s a huge legacy. And the perfume Free embodies that spirit. The same messages of empowerment resonate through the new campaign and the world of perfume. We feel powerful while wearing it.
You wear a costume yourself in some of the campaign images Freee. Is it the mixture of feminine and masculine that seduces you at Yves Saint Laurent and Saint Laurent?
Yes, I’m very impressed by this iconic silhouette of the woman in a suit originally imagined by Yves Saint Laurent because it juxtaposes the two genres, which I find very strong. It corresponds to my own definition of style, of what I find beautiful.
The name of the perfume is Free. And you pick up the song Freedom! ’90 (1990) by George Michael in the video campaign for this new juice. What is your definition of freedom?
The ability for a woman to do things on her own terms. Women are taking more and more control over their lives and we have a lot more space to be ourselves, the ones we really want to be and exploit our full potential. But there is still a lot of work to be done towards freedom.
The video for “Don’t Start Now” (2019) by Dua Lipa
What roles do fashion and beauty play in your musical universe?
I think the way you present yourself to the world is essential. During my concerts, for example, I attach a lot of importance to the visual, especially to costume changes. This counts as much as the choreography, the light and the images that are projected on the giant screens and the performance itself. But the most important thing for me is to do things that have a purpose and to bring up in my songs subjects that can resonate with other people and help them in some way.
What is your personal definition of beauty?
What I find beautiful are unique things, which can be a bit quirky. Each has its particularities that make it different and special. We have to brandish and defend our specificities because that’s what makes us beautiful.
You are currently on tour to defend your second album, Future Nostalgia, released in 2020. Your concerts look like huge parties where everyone communicates under a giant disco ball, like during the heyday of disco. How do you manage to deploy such energy by chaining hits and choreographies?
It is very important for me to be very conscientious and careful with my health. During the shows, I don’t stop for a minute. I run for more than an hour and a half, change clothes, dance, sing… I do yoga every day to develop my strength (physical and mental), my endurance and disconnect from everything else for an hour . It allows me to better anchor myself in the present moment. I meditate and try to have as healthy a lifestyle as possible and sleep as much as I can. But on stage, what brings me the most is the energy released by the public. Adrenaline is a very powerful ingredient.
The video for “Break My Heart” (2020) by Dua Lipa
Future Nostalgia mixed several musical genres (electro, pop, funk, disco), several space-times (the past – the 80s – and the future) but also several types of feelings. We go from euphoria to the desire to dance to melancholy.
That’s what I’ve been trying to convey since my beginnings in music: this feeling that I call “dance crying”. Everything about juxtapositions and games between worlds touches me, whether in fashion or in music. I find duality more fun and exciting than one-dimensional.
You have launched a newsletter, Service95, in which you share good addresses but also recommendations of feminist books or more societal articles. You also host a podcast, At YourService, in which you notably interview activists…
For years, I’ve been writing lists of different things that I like. Places to visit, places to sleep, restaurants to try, articles to share with my friends. All my notes on my phone are full of these lists and playlists. It’s a real obsession (laughs). I then thought of a newsletter that could bring everything together. I like the fact that the newsletter arrives, like a concierge service, directly in mailboxes, without having to look for information everywhere. It’s a mix of very different interests that make me who I am. I have many passions and I wanted to encapsulate everything in a single format. I try to be really careful with the curation so that everything in the newsletters has meaning and interest. I hope it will interest more and more people and it will grow.
Megan Thee Stallion & Dua Lipa’s “Sweetest Pie” Video
Which musical artist would you recommend to us?
British soul singer-songwriter Cleo Sol who has a fantastic voice. In addition to her solo career, she is part of the English collective Sault (a mysterious R’n’B-soul-jazz project which has given no interviews or concerts and one of whose albums has not been available only for 99 days, editor’s note).
You have recorded songs with many artists such as Elton John, Calvin Harris or Megan Thee Stallion. How do you choose your collaborations?
I like to work with people that I appreciate musically and with whom I am not expected to collaborate. I like to surprise and experience new things.
Future Nostalgia (2020) by Dua Lipa, on Warner Records. Freethe perfume, Yves Saint Laurent, available September 12, 2022.
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Meeting with Dua Lipa, very human pop superstar and muse of the new Yves Saint Laurent perfume
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