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Lorde on Influences — and Cosmetics

The 17-year-old Kiwi singer sits down with WWD to discuss the story behind her MAC Cosmetics collection, which bows in June.

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Lorde is not for sale.

The 17-year-old Kiwi singer, whose limited-edition MAC Cosmetics collection bows in June, said the deal came about organically.

“I’m a really big fan of MAC and have been since before I could really afford it,” she said, noting that her first cosmetics purchase was a pale pink lipstick from the brand. “When they approached me, I jumped at the chance. It’s rare that you find a brand that feels so perfect. I hate weird product placements and endorsements that feel uncomfortable.”

Clad in a gray Alexander Wang pantsuit, black Ann Demeulemeester sandals and silver nail polish, Lorde is relaxed as she discusses the partnership, noting she came to the table knowing what she wanted — a deep plum lipstick dubbed Pure Heroine, $16, and a black eyeliner called Rapidblack, $19.50. “The finish [of the lipstick] was important to me,” she said. “I wanted people to be able to use it as a lipstick or press it on as a stain.”

That level of detail, in fact, follows through in everything she does. “I’m very much involved — I’m designing the sets for my shows, I’m designing the lighting for my shows, I’m designing my merchandise. Basically, everything to do with me, I’m doing. I would get bored just doing one thing. I have a very clear idea of what everything needs to look like, to sound like. And I’m really bad at delegating.”

She noted that she’s been inspired by Kanye West since she was a child: “Because I think his vision, how closed-off he is in his vision — he has a very strong sense of himself. Grace Jones, too; she’s an icon and so badass.”

Lorde cites a number of musical influences, including Jones and Prince. Speaking of performing, she says she doesn’t think singing will ever feel old for her.

“There’s something about the energy of people who have been listening to your music for a while and who are just so excited to have a physical experience to attach it to. I’ve had some live experiences that I’ll never forget,” she said. “It’s magic without being able to describe it. It never gets old to me that there are people in a room waiting for me, to watch me and to listen to me.”

She likens writing lyrics to writing short stories, and credits her mother, who is a poet, with fueling her love for reading and putting words together.

As far as writing music goes, “Sometimes it’s easy — the idea presents itself really quickly,” she said. “But sometimes it will elude me for a while and I will have to figure out the right way of wording a particular idea. I like lyrics that have a lot of strong visual imagery, because that makes me see a place in my head and that’s important. As for the melody, I carry my phone around and record lots of sounds and see if anything’s actually good, and then I try and build on it.”

Despite her meteoric rise to fame, she finds it easy to stay grounded because of her upbringing. “I just try not to be too much of a d--k with people or my mom would be like…” she pulls a face and laughs. “And my sister [growing up] would be like, ‘Can you just shut up?’” She giggled.

She turns even more bubbly when discussing a recent performance with the surviving members of Nirvana at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “They are so nice. They’re the nicest people I’ve met in music and I am such a big fan,” she said. “It’s heartening to see such good people. A lot of times, I don’t want to meet people because I don’t want to ruin the illusion.”

She’d like to do more in beauty. “I don’t know about a fragrance, because I think I would have to find a way to make that feel cool and authentic, make it feel like me. But I loved the collaboration with MAC,” she said. “I kept it short because I wanted to make the two products more important to me, that would be a good addition to anyone’s makeup bag. But I’d like to do more lipsticks.”

She’s currently on tour and will head to Glasgow on Wednesday. Stops in Berlin, the Netherlands, Paris and Rome are also planned. “I’m going to have a lot of stamps in my passport,” she said with a laugh.

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