What makes a beauty icon? Never doing anything half-assed, according to Rita Ora

For beauty editors, there are two reactions to hearing that a celebrity is coming into town. The first involves some light Instagram stalking and heavy brain racking to come up with an interesting angle. The second goes something like this: “Oh god so many questions to ask, not enough time. I need to know everything!!!” The deciding factor is, of course, the celeb. So when we heard that Rita Ora would be in Toronto to promote her second collaboration with Rimmel London (eight new 60 Seconds Nail Polishes), our brains went into overdrive. What do we ask the music industry’s biggest beauty chameleon? Would she emerge with a totally new look than what she was sporting on Instagram the week before? (The answer was yes, obviously. She even had a massive new tattoo.)

From her evolution to what she can’t live without and who she looks up to, we talked all things beauty with Rita Ora.

What was the inspiration behind the Rimmel London collab?
“[The collection] is based on festivals. It’s definitely girlier than I usually am. I also love who the previous brand ambassadors were, like the legendary Kate Moss, and Georgia May Jagger. I think that [Rimmel] really [provides] an amazing impression of what [London’s] like if you’ve never been. It’s really great. It’s authentic.”

Did you use the brand’s products when you were young?
“It was always my [go-to brand] for makeup. I’d have it in my school blazer; mascara in my pocket where the pencil should be…”

Were you always adventurous with your makeup?
“Yeah. Going to school was definitely restrictive, but as soon as I took that school uniform off, it was like [I was] a different person. I’d be in my zone. I always loved getting dressed and cutting things up and making things. Changing my hair, dyeing it. I was very lucky, though, because I had the freedom to do that. My parents weren’t strict.”

How do you conceptualize the looks in a music video?
“We try to keep the team very small. The less opinions, the better. We have my makeup artist, my manager, my hairdresser, and my stylist. Over the course of the year, whether there’s a video or not, we’re always researching. I’m always telling them, ‘Constantly look up shit. Create. Come up with a mood board.’ Then, when we do a music video, we’ll bring their research to one table and then we strategically plan how many looks we want. It’s definitely very organized and mathematical than anything. It’s only because we really care about getting the right message across.”

“In the sense that the makeup, the hair, the face [are planned]. It doesn’t just flow.”

Are you planning any sort of makeover for your album release this winter?
“You know what’s weird? I feel like I revamp my look all the time. If I was to revamp again, it would just be another Rita look. What I’m trying to do is involve all those looks into one. It’d [be] really interesting to see what nothing looks like.”

We recently did a post about how you change your hair more often than anyone else.
“Thank you! I like to earn that title. I like to go in depth with everything we do. I don’t do things half-heartedly. I just cut all my hair off and I’m probably going to have hair tomorrow.”

Do you have any beauty and fashion icons that you look up to?
“Of course. Madonna is one. I really love rock stars. I love people who were ballsy with who they were, like Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. I was very in tune with punk [music] growing up. Growing up, I loved the punk lifestyle. In the UK especially, The Crass and The Clash. I loved those transitions in lifestyles. That, for me, is what fashion is; it’s a lifestyle. It’s a way that you morph into what you want to be.”

What’s your earliest beauty memory?
“The first time I put red lipstick on, I was on a bus on the way to school. I was 14 or 15 and I’d [stolen] my mum’s lipstick. It made me feel like a woman. I felt like I was older. I felt more mature with red lipstick on.”

How do you keep your hair healthy?
“Olaplex! It’s all that I use. No joke. As a blonde, it’s very hard to look after your hair. It’s one of the few reasons why I cut it off. You really have to make sure you look after it. [Olaplex has] made my hair so much thicker.”

What have you been doing in Toronto?
“I went to this really amazing Jamaican spot called Island Foods. Then I went to Playdium. Oh, and I played baseball. That’s it!”

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