lana del rey on being 'just weird enough' for the gucci guilty campaign
The artist talks to i-D about playing an archetypal LA character alongside Courtney Love and Jared Leto, and 'Norman Fucking Rockwell.'
BTS imagery courtesy of Gucci.
“He wanted to have a campaign that was centered around this concept of ‘Hollyweird’ so I guess he thought it was just weird enough for it.” Lana Del Rey is talking about the new campaign for Gucci Guilty, shot by Glen Luchford, and why Creative Director Alessandro Michele chose her to embody the fragrance. “He told me he felt like it was a scent for a woman who did whatever she wanted and I’m very much that person,” she laughs. The backdrop for this kind of woman is Los Angeles, Del Rey’s home, and iconic locations such as the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Alongside fellow Angeleno, Jared Leto, she races though a laundromat, a beauty salon, a supermarket, where an ostrich makes a cameo, and a diner, where Courtney Love makes just as unexpected a cameo. It makes sense — Love is one of Del Rey’s closest friends, and an LA landmark in her own right. “She’s definitely a Hollywood icon, and a music icon so I was thrilled she was gonna be apart of it,” says Del Rey.
We’ll have to wait for the release of Del Rey’s next album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, but till then she’s released a few choice songs to tide us over. Chief among them is the magnificent “Venice Bitch,” a sprawling epic that mirrors the city’s enormity. “I have quite a grounded but surreal impression of LA day to day,” she says of the inspiration her adopted hometown gives her. "I love the friendships and organic relationships I have here, but I also love how dramatic the landscape of the city is on the outer edges.” “Venice Bitch” and its accompaniments, “Mariner’s Apartment Complex” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me” strike a cautiously hopeful tone (both in name and content). When asked what gives her hope, the artist says “What I can share about it is that hope has come through my friendships and through surrounding myself through gentle people who have the same perspective on reality as I do.” How we long to have the same perspective as Lana del Rey.
Read below to learn about her friendship with Alessandro Michele, the Lynchian nature of Los Angeles, and her chats with Courtney Love.
How was shooting the campaign with Glen and Jared?
It was fun. I didn’t know what to expect or how much it would really look like a movie set – I grew up watching Jared and being on site with him was a trip. Also Glen was fantastic.
Did you feel like you were playing an archetypal LA character?
Yes! Even for me it was a lot. It felt very Lynchian which is always fun to explore in Los Angeles in these dramatic settings like the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Why do you think Alessandro felt you encapsulated the fragrance?
He told me he felt like it was a scent for a woman who did whatever she wanted and I’m very much that person. I’m a little bit eclectic, a little different, and definitely on my own path, but at the same time I have a lot of feminine sensibilities and this particular fragrance is on the lighter side and a little bit younger because of that, so I think he thought I had the right spirit for it. Also he wanted to have a campaign that was centered around this concept of ‘Hollyweird,’ so I guess he thought it was just weird enough for it.
What was it like working with Courtney on this! Her cameo is fabulous.
Yes having Courtney anywhere is totally fabulous. I love that girl and I am always happy when I see her, she is somebody I chat with on the phone and love catching up with her. But she’s definitely a Hollywood icon, and a music icon so I was thrilled she was gonna be apart of it.
Tell us about your friendship with Alessandro — it seems to be quite the meeting of minds.
Yes, I think so. When I met him he told me he had been thinking and conceptualizing some of his collections while listening to my music so I was honored to hear that. We chatted for about six months before he asked me to do the fragrance and I was excited to collaborate with him on that. And he’s a very gentle quiet person, but he’s incredibly creative and has endless amounts of energy to put out so many pieces in various collections so he is quite an inspiration.
LA itself plays a character in the campaign: how do you feel about the city?
Yes. LA has a starring role in the campaign. As well as in his recent collections. Which if you can’t tell, I love about the campaign and his latest pieces. I love the city and feel grateful to live here. It’s been a big part of so many movies and the entertainment industry and show business so it’s only fitting that it gets a starring role in this as well. It’s certainly never boring in LA for sure.
How has your relationship to LA changed over time?
I think because I’m not from here, when I got here I didn’t know how I was going to fit in. It’s probably one of the cities, other than London, that takes the longest to get your feet on the ground in. It’s just so big and sprawling and there’s so many people that for me it took a long time to find my people. But once I did it was a perfect place to be an artist in and be creative in. Also I am quite the outdoorsman so being able to be outside all year round is amazing.
What does it feel like just before an album gets released?
Kind of depends on what you want to do with an album. For me I’ve done different variations of promotion – like if we have a big music video sometimes I’ll have a little premiere for it at one of the local theaters and that’s always really fun. For my earlier albums I would do a lot of promotion before anything got released, but I usually still go to most of the record stores here or in San Francisco and play a couple of the new songs before anything comes out and just do small things like that. It kind of feels different every time but I’m always excited just to have my work out there once it’s done!
Thus far, it seems like Norman... is a pensive yet hopeful record. What were you thinking about writing it?
Yeah that sounds about right. I wasn’t feeling any pressure to make this album bigger or better than any of the rest of them. I was just having fun in the studio with Jack Antonoff. I was actually pretty thrilled at some of the melodies that were coming through as I was writing and just the sexy and cool all natural vibe that was shaping up within the record as I was finishing it – you always hope a low-key record feels organic and for me this one really does.
"Venice Bitch" reminds me of why I first moved to LA — tell us a little about the song.
Thank you so much! It reminds me of the things I like about LA too, just the luxury of being able to walk around and feeling free to just be creative and be an artist. LA is really an important place for that-to not have any other motivation other than to write or create or to enjoy a nature. I have quite a grounded but surreal impression of LA day to day. I love the friendships and organic relationships I have here but I also love how dramatic the landscape of the city is on the outer edges like by the beach or downtown as well as all the studio lots etc
What would you encourage our readers to be hopeful about? Why is hope powerful?
Hope is a word that keeps coming up in the last year. I think because people are really looking for hope.
What I can share about it is that hope has come through my friendships and through surrounding myself through gentle people who have the same perspective on reality as I do. It’s the antithesis of feeling confused about alternative facts or cultural confusion etc. So I would say hope for me is symbolized in unity or community and it’s the opposite of feeling isolated and in despair. Whenever I’m feeling stressed, I just connect with my friends right away.