Billie Eilish has reflected on her ever-evolving style and image, looking back in particular on the outfit from her British Vogue cover in May.
Fans first saw a shift in Billie’s signature look in March, when she switched up her well-known green roots and debuted her blonde hair on Instagram.
Months later, Billie’s Vogue cover saw her embracing a “classic Hollywood” look and wearing several designer corsets. Ever since, she has continued to rock more bold, feminine looks in the public eye, many of which have attracted a lot of attention.
However, many were quick to criticize Billie for her shift from her signature oversize outfits, which became understood as a conscious decision that the 19-year-old made to avoid being sexualized.
Some appeared to be condemning Billie for seemingly conforming to a beauty standard that they felt she’d been fighting against throughout her career.
Now, sitting down with Vanity Fair for the fifth year of her annual video interview, Billie reflected on the uproar over her Vogue cover.
“I did that Vogue cover and it was a genre that we were doing the shoot for. It was an old kind of Hollywood lingerie kind of classic thing,” she explained.
“It was supposed to be a specific aesthetic for a photo shoot, and then it was like, ‘Billie Eilish's new style’ and people kept being like, ‘Wow, her new style, it’s so much better than the old style.’ Or like, ‘Wow, I wish that we could have her old style back, I’m so sad that she’s just changed into this,’” she said, quoting some of the criticism she’d received.
“It was so weird because I was like, ’It’s not a new style, it's one thing I wore and then I’m gonna wear this another day and then I’m gonna do this,’” she said. “Literally the thing that I’ve been preaching about since I first started is to wear what you want.
“Dress how you want, act how you want, talk how you want, be how you want. That's all I've ever said. It’s just being open to new things and not letting people ruin it for you,” she said
Billie also reflected on how her physical appearance influences the way in which she’s recognized out in public, noting that her move away from the oversize clothes and signature bright hair colors made it easier for her to “manage” her way around people.
Looking back on a clip of herself from last year — in which she described going out in public as a “complete disaster” — Billie explained how her newfound confidence has helped her navigate being outside more securely.
“Gosh, that girl was going through an identity crisis,” Billie said of her 18-year-old self.
“My attitude used to be, ‘Well, I can’t go out. You know, I can’t go here. I can’t go there,’” she explained. “And I used to just, like not even be able to like go to a park or like go get food or get coffee.
“In the last year, I have been open to it. I really feel grateful for that because being able to feel confident stepping outside without a hat and a hood and glasses and a mask and a jacket… it’s so much better and you don't have to live like that. And I realized that this year that I don't have to live like that.
“And my hair is blonde now,” she went on, speaking of how she isn’t as recognizable due to her change in physical appearance. “So it’s not like the only person you’ve ever seen with green hair walking by.”
Billie’s latest comments come months after she opened up about some of the criticism she received around her changing image in a September cover interview with Elle.
Speaking of how some of her fans wanted her to remain in the casual, oversize look she rocked in her first years of fame, Billie admitted she found it “dehumanizing” to be associated with just one particular style.
“People hold on to these memories and have an attachment,” she said. “But it's very dehumanizing.”
What’s more, Billie recalled losing 100,000 followers after posting a picture wearing a corset and a lace bra. As Elle noted, the photo was met with an influx of comments calling her “disingenuous” and “cringy.”
“I lost 100,000 followers, just because of the boobs,” Billie said of the picture. “People are scared of big boobs.”
Elsewhere, Billie’s evolving style attracted attention once again at this year’s Met Gala, which took place in September.
Billie surprised fans and viewers worldwide when she stepped out onto the iconic beige carpet in a Marilyn Monroe–inspired Oscar de la Renta dress — a look that was unlike anything she’d worn at similar events before.
“It just was time. It was time for this, and I feel like I've grown so much in the last few years and my confidence,” Billie said of the dress. “I’m so excited. I have butterflies. I couldn't be happier.”
“This is the first thing I've done in this realm at all,” she added, noting that she was “shivering and shaking.”
Billie said Oscar de la Renta had pledged to stop using fur in its designs at her request ahead of their collaboration.
“Thank you @oscardelarenta for designing this BEAUTIFUL dress and bringing my ideas and vision to life,” she wrote in an Instagram caption shortly after the Met Gala. "It was an honor to wear this dress knowing that going forward Oscar de la Renta will be completely fur-free!!!!
“I'm honored to have been a catalyst and to have been heard on this matter. I urge all designers to do the same.”
Speaking with Vanity Fair now, Billie listed the achievement as one of the highlights of her career. She recalled telling Oscar de la Renta: “You have to stop using fur, because if you don’t, I’m not working with you.”
“So I got Oscar de la Renta to stop using fur completely, and that was a really really big thing for me,” she said.
“I hope that more brands follow along with being environmentally conscious and try to help the world instead of making it worse,” added Billie, who is vegan and often uses her platform to advocate for the well-being of the planet.
You can watch Billie’s fifth annual interview with Vanity Fair in full here.
Billie Eilish's Oscar De La Renta Met Gala Look Was Made On The Condition That They No Longer Use FurNatasha Jokic · Sept. 13, 2021