Rina Sawayama’s Dua Lipa shines in distance performances


beyoncé, lady gaga, cardi b remote performance

Gaga: courtesy of Interscope; Beyoncé: Andrew White / Parkwood Entertainment; Cardi B: Kevin Winter / Getty Images; Sawayama: Attitude Magazine / Getty Images


I’m worried that I lost my muscle memory for live music. I am at the point of withdrawal where the sensory details fail me with a disconcerting specificity: The strategic transfer of weight from one foot to the other. Crane left and right to avoid a bunch of obstructive phones, or the tallest man in the room who is somehow still in front of you. The purr of a powerful bass echoing between my ribs. The euphoria of giving up my personal space at the pit. Instead, my schedule is filled with remote performance subject to the vagaries of internet connectivity, designed to be stared at languidly without the thought of putting on outdoor pants. Yet for all its physical inertia, the past year has been a time of considerable mental exercise: reimagining the collective musical experience for our cloistered present, dreaming what its future might look like, rewiring our brains for a new world.

cardi b remote performance

Cardi B in Rey Ortiz at the 2021 Grammys.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

As we anxiously live through a chapter in the history books to come, the pop stars and their teams have granted us flashes of psychic reprieve through the performance fantasy. Music and fashion, two fields that feed on carefully crafted visions, have joined forces. There was the mirror scalloped cowboy hat and tangerine leggings that nodded to the Nudie costumes in Megan Thee Stallion’s Apple Music Awards rodeo; Rina Sawayama’s nod to Marie-Antoinette in the Moschino saddlebags; and the utopian alternate reality of the “Positions” music video, in which Ariana Grande plays POTUS in Lanvin, Mugler, Gucci and a series of pillbox hats. The optimism of glowing and gloriously inessential moments of pop culture excess, unsolicited momentum through lavish creative budgets, was a tonic. The show is different, but it continued, at least from a distance.

rina sawayama in moschino

Rina Sawayama performs in Moschino.

Attitude Magazine / Getty Images

With concerts confined to screens, stylists have taken on the challenge of bridging the emotional divide, telegraphing the vitality of live music through an amplified, exuberant and extravagant mode that serves as a sort of visual caps lock. A Philip Treacy for Valentino couture hat permeates Dua Lipa Saturday Night Live performance with an ethereal lightness that only cascades of feathers can transmit. Also consider the otherworldly burlesque of Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ look: a custom Mugler thong bodysuit, accented by a corset with breast cutouts and gold areola shields.

remote performance dua lipa

Dua Lipa, in Valentino Haute Couture, is getting ready for SNL.

Courtesy of the subject.

Beyoncé’s dizzying wardrobe Black is a parentg — her puffy, jewel-toned skirts, sculptural shoulders, and rhinestone curtains — serve as a maximalist material expression of the visual album’s message: the insurmountable beauty and majesty of the African diaspora. “Creating a world where we have the opportunity to visually escape, especially in today’s circumstances, is always a treat,” says stylist Zerina Akers, who led the production’s costume design and brought together talent from around the world. , from the Senegalese studio of Tongoro to the Greek. designer Mary Katrantzou. “I often think of the many people facing very real and harsh realities,” Akers says, “and I hope if they saw a glimpse of my work it would bring them joy.”

beyoncé black is king of fashion

Beyoncé wears Mary Katrantzou in Black is king.

Andrew White / Parkwood Entertainment

When Lady Gaga and Nicola Formichetti started working on the visual identity for her Chromatic album, the idea was to build a fictional world born out of the therapeutic transformation she found while making music – feelings that Formichetti echoed when reflecting on her own work. Like music, fashion is a form of escape, he tells me, a way “to create a world of fantasy where anything is possible”. His childhood interest in the visual arts began, he says, as an inner search for identity and a refuge that turned outward, a coping mechanism that became an act of self-determination. For Chromatic, he teleported to a metaphorical planet where “Ancient aliens encounter evolved beings ”and the aggressive elements are subverted, painted in candied hues. Shortly after the video for “Rain on Me” was filmed, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and many countries put containment measures in place. Suddenly, the album’s themes of healing from grief and trauma seemed not only relevant, but prescient as well. Incorporating masks into Gaga’s nine outfits for the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards was effortless.

beyoncé, lady gaga, cardi b remote performance

Lady gaga is promoting VSchromatic in pieces by Cecilio Castrillo Martinez, Gasoline Glamor and Gary Fay.

Courtesy of Interscope

The link between these imagined and lived realities recalls the peculiar dynamism of fantasy, not only as a kind of mental ejection button, but as something more instructive. “This push and pull between dreaming and living feels more real than ever,” said Schiaparelli artistic director Daniel Roseberry, who created the elegant but whimsical dress Gaga wore to sing the national anthem during the inauguration of the President Biden. “The sadness of the times we live in, but the power of the imagination and the world that we can create for ourselves. It is perhaps our greatest power.

This article appeared in the June / July 2021 issue of ELLE.

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