It’s no secret that Billie Eilish is a Gen Z icon. The astronomical success of her debut studio album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” launched her into the global spotlight, earning five Grammy awards and redefining pop music as we know it.
It’s also no secret her fashion choices are synonymous with her image. Eilish is known for her signature oversized streetwear, often adorned with bold prints, since the start of her career. In an advertisement for Calvin Klein in 2019, the then 17-year-old revealed the mystery of her outfits is intentional to deter body shamers.
“I never want the world to know everything about me,” says Eilish, “I mean, that’s why I wear big, baggy clothes. Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath, y’know?”
But when the June 2021 issue of British Vogue came out with Eilish in a corset, lingerie, and latex gloves — she just about broke the Internet.
The now 19-year-old did a full 180, trading her baggy, neon tracksuits and icy jewelry for a custom wardrobe filled with a soft pink Gucci corset, taupe Burberry trench coat, Alexander McQueen corset dress and a Mugler catsuit accessorized with latex gloves and stockings by Atsuko Kudo. Her trademark green-to-black gradient was replaced by a striking platinum blonde styled in a modern take of the vintage pin-up hairstyle reminiscent of old Hollywood.
“It’s all about what makes you feel good.”Billie Eilish
Edward Enniful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, said the shoot was Eilish’s idea. “What if, she wondered, she wanted to show more of her body for the first time in a fashion story?” Enniful wrote in an Instagram post. “What if she wanted to play with corsetry and revel in the aesthetic of the mid-20th century pin-ups she’s always loved? It was time, she said, for something new.”
The photos were met with a huge outpour of support, garnering over 120 million likes on Eilish’s personal Instagram alone.
In the accompanying interview with journalist Laura Snapes, Eilish opened up about being sexualized after a photo of her in a tank top went viral. “It made me really offended when people were like, ‘Good for her for feeling comfortable in her bigger skin,’” Eilish said. “Jesus Christ!? Good for me? F— off! …The more the Internet and the world care about somebody that’s doing something they’re not used to, they put it on such a high pedestal that then it’s even worse.”
Eilish explained her decision to wear a corset — “If I’m honest with you, I hate my stomach, and that’s why” — and preemptively responded to any who doubt her advocacy for body positivity. “My thing is that I can do whatever I want. It’s all about what makes you feel good.”
“Suddenly you’re a hypocrite if you want to show your skin, and you’re easy and you’re a slut and you’re a whore. If I am, then I’m proud. Me and all the girls are hoes, and f—k it, y’know? Let’s turn it around and be empowered in that. Showing your body and showing your skin — or not — should not take any respect away from you.”
Eilish’s defiance of societal demands has been inspiring to many. It does not mean we are saying goodbye to the “old Billie” but rather embracing change and how we grow as we age.
Eilish is set to release her highly-anticipated sophomore album Happier Than Ever on Jul. 30, 2021.