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Ariana Grande’s Most Iconic Looks of 2018

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

It’s no secret that I am a HUGE Ariana Grande fan. I mean, what’s not to like? From her angelic vocals to her sweet side profile, she’s got it all going on. But more importantly, she’s shown the world, time and time again, that she’s more than just a pretty face. I, for one, am inspired most by her constant grind. Her intense work ethic is the reason she’s reached new levels of career success in 2018. This past year, she has also embodied perseverance and how to find hope in even the darkest of times. And she’s looked good doing it. So here’s a look back at what I believe are her best and most iconic looks of the AG4 era.

No Tears Left to Cry on Jimmy Fallon

Before releasing her highly-anticipated album Sweetener, our beloved pop princess took a four-month hiatus from social media early last year. When she finally returned to drop her lead single No Tears Left to Cry, we were all ready to see some new visuals. And we were definitely not disappointed. Her first live performance of the single aired on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon during which she wore the iconic pink “gumdrop” dress. Never one to betray her own sense of style, she wore it paired with some thigh high boots and her hair up in that signature ponytail of hers. This outfit is so undeniably Ariana, it’s even the outfit Kourtney Kardashian chose to re-create for Halloween later that year.

The MET Gala

The following month was the showstopping annual MET gala and the exhibit on display in 2018 was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. In case you didn’t know, the Anna Wintour-directed event doubles as a fashion show for the world’s most elite designers who dress their celebrity models to the nines. And Miss Ariana did not come to play. She wore Vera Wang in a custom dress printed with Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement. The iconic painting is famously housed in the Sistine Chapel and we must admit that Ariana looks divine. This look was on theme, on point, and one of the best of the night.

Photoshoot for British Vogue

Of all the photos I’ve seen of Ariana, nothing has stunned me more than this photoshoot she did for British Vogue. The images were captured by photographer Craig McDean and he did a wonderful job showcasing her fresh-faced beauty. While we’re all used to Ariana’s go-to ponytail and winged liner, it was refreshing to see a different side of her, one that seems more relaxed and less put-together. Once again, she shows us that black and white is classic, elegant, and a total vibe.

Dance to This music video

In addition to releasing lots of her own music in 2018, she still had time to feature on fellow artist Troye Sivan’s song Dance to This. Besides being one of my favourite songs that came out last year, it also spawned a High School Musical/Grease-themed music video. In it, Ariana wears a vintage Chanel two-piece with a cropped white top and matching white sneakers. The outfit somehow has a retro nostalgic vibe, while still being modern and something I could see girls wearing today. This is also when she revived an old trend: the 90s barrettes. While I would probably look like a five-year old with barrettes in my hair, she makes it look impossibly good.

God is a Woman music video

In July, she released the God is a Woman music video and our lives were forever changed. Okay, maybe that’s slightly dramatic but it did make a big statement in the media at the time. What I love most about this video is that it is overflowing with female empowerment. While most critics concentrated on the religious implications of her lyrics, I think a lot of great messages were showcased in the visuals. From the shattering of the glass ceiling to the many symbolic references to female sexuality, Ariana is commenting on how women are powerful and that we are a force to be reckoned with. And of course, the opening sequence of her rocking a side braid and swimming in a pastel-painted bath has inspired many a YouTuber transformation; popular influencers James Charles and Lauren Riihimaki both tried their own hand at the iconic look.

Beats Radio 1 Interview

The die-hard fans out there will probably know that this was a very emotional interview for Ariana. She was at Beats Radio 1 to promote the same-day release of Sweetener and while discussing the album, she was asked about how her life has been impacted since the Manchester Arena bombing. In May of 2017, a single terrorist detonated a bomb shortly after her concert had ended, killing 23 people and wounding over 130 others. While Ariana was devastated and continues, I’m sure, to be affected by the incident, she also knew she needed to set an example for her fans. Instead of cancelling the rest of her tour, she returned to Manchester the following month and held One Love Manchester, a benefit concert to raise money for the victim’s families. During the interview, she sheds some tears but reminds us that scars do have meaning. They are there because we have lived an experience and been resilient enough to make it through. And in this case, her courageous attitude is what really makes her beautiful.

Breathin’ music video

On a lighter note, Breathin’ was a song that she wrote about her anxiety and it is probably my favourite song of the entire album. Many other fans appeared to enjoy it as well and I think we all hoped she would release an official music video. To our delight, she collaborated with Director Hannah Lux Davis whom she has already worked with on some of her most celebrated music videos like Side to Side and Into You. Together, they outdid themselves, once again, with absolutely stunning visuals. I still can’t get over the first look in which Ariana gazes into the camera, surrounded by mist. She wore an oversized grey blazer paired with, you guessed it, some good ole’ thigh high boots. And I must say, her hair and makeup look so particularly gorgeous that it kind of makes me think about bringing back my old side part. Let’s hope I can pull it off half as well as she does.

Thank U, Next music video

This is kind of cheating because Thank U, Next is the lead single from her next album and not exactly AG4 era appropriate but I find I have to include it, especially since it went crazy viral! Teaming up with Hannah Davis again, she transports us to the girliest universe inspired by our favourite early 2000s movies. The four movies she references throughout the video are Mean Girls, Bring It On, Legally Blonde, and 13 Going On 30. While she kills every look, my personal favourite was her as Regina George. Ariana just happens to be one of those girls that can look equally stylish as a brunette or as a blonde and I am jealous. She definitely looks like a Billboard Number One to me.

Billboard Woman of the Year

Lastly, we can’t forget how Ariana wrapped up her year in style. This purple moment was what she wore when she sealed the deal as Billboard’s 2018 Woman of the Year. After whirlwind career success, it was not surprising that she was on the shortlist to achieve some much deserved recognition. Staying true to her style from early in the year, she channeled the same puffy silhouette she wore throughout her promotions of No Tears Left to Cry but updated it with an unusual colour choice. It is well known in the fashion and beauty community that purple is seen as a more mature pink. I’m not sure if that was her intention behind the look but it is quite poetic considering her milestone levels of personal growth since January. Other than the look, her acceptance speech was also a winner in my eyes. It was heartfelt and her sincerity really shined through, especially when she admitted that despite the amazing success she has experienced in her work life, she still has no clue what she’s doing as far as her personal life goes. It just goes to show you that no matter what you wear, being real and human is always a great look!

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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Cheryl Ng

U Ottawa '20

Cheryl is a third year student at the University of Ottawa studying Political Science and Communication. She is passionate about all kinds of art, but mostly writing and photography. She is an avid traveler and hopes to one day have a career that enables her adventurous spirit! Cheryl est une étudiante en troisième année à l’Université d’Ottawa. Elle étudie la science politique et la communication. Elle aime beaucoup les arts, les écrits et la photographie en particulier. Elle est une voyageuse et voudrait avoir un emploi qui comprend des occasions à voyager tout autour du monde!
Fourth year Criminology student at the University of Ottawa, Leafs fan, makeup lover and Harry Potter enthusiast.