Dua Lipa, vocalist and songwriter, born in London on 22 August 1995, to Kosovar-Albanian parents. Dua Lipa is the biggest new force in pop. From her teen years spent studying at Sylvia Young Theatre School, Dua developed a cult following online before signing a deal with Warner Bros. Dua Lipa has been a regular chart topper since 2015, but she has been uploading covers to YouTube since she was only 14-years-old. In 2015 she was signed Warner Music Group and in August that year released her first single New Love, but her first hit was with Be The One in October 2015. New Rules topped the UK’s streaming charts on Spotify as she was the UK’s most-streamed female artists of 2017. Incredibly, she beat Beyonce and Taylor Swift to become Spotify’s most-streamed female of 2017.
Records and releasing her acclaimed self-titled debut album which has made everyone’s “best of” list, from The FADER to Rolling Stone to Time Magazine. Today, she is the most-streamed female artist in the world, having sold over 2.1 million albums and 16 million singles, as well as becoming the youngest ever female artist to hit 1 billion views on the video for her landmark single ‘New Rules.’
A platinum single in 17 countries – and in the UK, the first solo female number one single since Adele in 2015 – ‘New Rules’ hit #1 on Top 40 US radio and has sold over 8 million copies worldwide. Her latest release this year is the summer smash ‘One Kiss’ with Calvin Harris, a single that shot to #1 5 countries with the video amassing over 92 million streams to date. Earlier this year, Dua made BRIT Award history becoming the first woman artist to pick up five nominations, taking home the awards for British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She has sold out headline shows at arenas across the world in addition to supporting superstar artists like Coldplay and Bruno Mars.
“I’m just grateful that people want to listen to my songs and play them at parties or while they’re getting ready. The numbers are crazy and while I’ve been in the writing process, I haven’t thought about it for a while so it’s… amazing. It pushes me to work harder. I just want to come back and make people proud. The last show I did was in December, so it’s been eight, nine months where I’ve just been writing in my little abyss, my little cave.”
Dua Lipa Biography and Profile
Dua Lipa, born on 22 August 1995 in north-west London. She comes from a large family of ethnic Albanians, to whom “so much has happened”, she says, “in my grandparents’ lives, and my parents’ lives. When you try to come to it and grasp everything there, it’s a lot.” Her mother, Anesa, was born to a Kosovan father and a Bosnian mother.
In the 90s, war came first to Bosnia, where Anesa’s mother lived, and then to Kosovo, where by now Anesa was living with her fiance, Dukagjin Lipa. Dukagjin was the son of a well-known historian, Seit Lipa, who at that time was the head of the Kosovo Institute of History. When conflict began to brew in Kosovo, Seit’s career abruptly ended.
As Lipa tells it: “Once the Serbians came in, they wanted a lot of the historians to rewrite the history of Kosovo. To change it – that Kosovo was always part of Serbia and never part of Yugoslavia. And my grandfather was one of those people who wouldn’t, so he lost his job, because he didn’t want to write a history that he didn’t believe to be true.”
In 1992, Dukagjin and Anesa sought refuge in London, while their parents stayed behind in Kosovo and Bosnia. Seit Lipa died in 1999, the year that the Kosovo war ended. “He had a heart attack. And because the borders were closed, my father couldn’t go back to see him.”
“I’ve seen my parents work every day of my life,” she says. In Kosovo her father was training to be a dentist, her mother to be a lawyer. Sudden flight to London threw all this over, and for a long time Lipa’s parents worked as waiters in cafes and bars. In the evenings, her father took business courses. Her mother retrained in travel and tourism. “While I was going to school they were going to school.”
“My parents have set some crazy unrealistic expectations of love (laughs). They’re so tight and the way me and my siblings get to see their bond – we’re very fortunate in that aspect. It’s probably why we love so hard and why we’re very open. Sometimes that’s a blessing and a curse but mostly it’s a blessing. It’s so much nicer to be able to live life being open to love rather than constantly living in fear of it. People can get hurt but at the same time there’s a lot of good in the world. I’m a firm believer in love. You just need to find the right person to spend your life with.”
Her grandmother’s suggestion about her name, she says, as dua is the Albanian word for love. “Now I’m proud of it. Now I am. But when I was growing up all I wanted was to be called Hannah, Sarah, Ella… anything normal. Because with Dua you had to explain: I’m from Kosovo.”
Dua Lipa’s rapid rise to worldwide success has been unexpected, stealth almost. Certainly no one, perhaps not even Dua herself, could have predicted such an extraordinary trajectory since she entered quietly, but assertively, into pop music’s consciousness in 2015 with her debut single, New Love. Dua became the most streamed female artist on Spotify in early 2018 – 2017’s outstanding piece of pop, New Rules has amassed over one billion streams alone, while the video for the single IDGAF has racked up half a billion views on YouTube.
In 2018, Dua won two Brit Awards, followed by another this year, and she also took home two Grammys in 2019. Not bad for a girl from north London (via Kosovan parents, who sought refuge in the UK in 1992).
Dua’s success isn’t simply accolade and awards driven; her self-titled album was – and remains – an absolute joy to listen to. The record delivers tune after tune, from heart-bursting ballads to self-empowerment anthems, with critics describing it as “a terrific debut” and the singer herself a “legitimate pop sensation”.
“I ended up listening to Prince, Outkast, old Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. It sounds like such a crazy clash of styles, but that’s just how I like to do things. Juxtaposition has always been a common factor in everything I do. It’s very ‘me’.”
“When I make music, I listen to it over and over again and when I do videos, I watch them over and over again. But the second it’s out in the world, it belongs to somebody else. That’s the way I see it. I like for people to be able to take my songs and have it make sense for them. The music has to live by itself. I’m reluctant to explain what a song means to me because I don’t want my story to influence that.”
Dua, who phones from LA on the morning of the Vogue shoot, is both considered and self-deprecating about her success, noting she wrote many of the songs as a teenager. “For the first record all I could do really was a lot of dance-crying,” she laughs (she does this often). “It was so much easier for me to write things that made me unhappy because they were things that stuck in my mind the longest.” Having just turned 24 in August, she promises her second album will be a little more “conceptual” and “mature”, before deciding with another exclamation that it’s also “like a dancercise class. It’s just fun!”.
Dua’s always had drive; after moving from London back to her parent’s home of Kosovo at the age of 12, she persuaded her former-rock-singer dad and tourism-industry-working mum to let her return alone to the UK capital when she was 15. She stayed with a family friend and studied at Sylvia Young Theatre School, sustaining a living by modelling and posting spirited Jamie xx and Mila J covers on YouTube.
Four years later, Dua was on the periphery of fame, not just in the UK, but uncharacteristically for a British artist, in the US too. Since becoming super successful she’s been using her platform for positive change; whether setting up the Sunny Hill Academy in the capital of Kosovo, Pristina, or speaking out about gender disparity in the music industry. Dua is a pop star with purpose, a young woman determined to challenge and address global issues, to empower her young fanbase.
I love it… I think every fragrance is really linked with a person’s personality. I have to play around and try different things but I always end up with just one. I’ve been so lucky that, since doing the Libre campaign, I have been given lots of miniature bottles, and now I know this is just going to be my scent forever. I’m also a little bit biased because I got to choose it, too.
I have to take my make-up off. It’s a very rare occasion where I just fall asleep with it on. When I was younger I never used to care. I was the kind of person that would just wash my face with soap and call it a day. But when I turned 18, I started really taking care of my skin and being really gentle. Now I use a lot of serums: I have one that I put on before I go to bed, and a different one for the morning that I use after a skin cleanser to take off any make-up. I’ll also use an oil, sometimes a homemade one, because my skin gets really dry the next morning if I don’t.
On her biggest make-up mistake
Trying to figure out foundation whilst doing your make-up on a tour bus isn’t the easiest. Now I understand why people want good light to do their make-up. Instead of leaving with blotchy orange bits, I try and just stay away from it. I let my skin breathe on days when I don’t need to wear make-up.
On doing her own make-up
I’m not amazing at doing make-up. I’m learning, though. I’m good at doing the things I feel work for me, and I’m figuring out how to try and perfect a very simple look. I’m also experimenting a lot with eyeliner. I use the Yves Saint Laurent Dessing Du Regard Waterproof one.
On her earliest beauty memory
My earliest beauty memory is watching my mum doing her own make-up. When I was younger I made up this song that I would sing to my mum and it would be all about “when I grow up, can I have your dress, when I grow up, can I have your shoes, when I grow up, can I look like you?” I’ve always loved the way that she dresses and the make-up that she uses.
On her beauty icon
I love the 1990s beauty look and I love Chloë Sevigny. I feel like she’s always had really fun, fresh and natural make-up, even now, she’s such an icon.
On hair care
Because it is short at the moment, I end up getting it cut quite often because it quickly reaches that awkward length between short and long. I end up going for trims whenever I get the chance, but I’m really bad at treatments. I never have time or a place to kind of sit with a hair mask on. I just wash my hair every other day, use a nice mousse and a texture spray, and then that’s it.
On joining the YSL family
It’s absolutely incredible. It’s a brand that has always been on my moodboard and has always been something I have wanted to do at some point in my life, and to get to be the face of a fragrance is so surreal. I couldn’t have asked for a better brand and team to work with and the shoot was just incredible. It was one of those moments where, during the whole four days of the shoot, I kept pinching myself and just being like, “I’m so happy.” It’s really been special.
I’ve found some good facialists in different places, that people have recommended. I don’t have that much time to go so it’ll be whenever I get the chance, usually once every couple of months. In London, there’s a place called Pfeffer Sal which I love. There they’re lovely and it’s just been great. I also know to drink electrolytes to make sure you’re hydrated. When I’m traveling, I’ll always take a few face-masks on flights. That’s a good tip I’ve learnt – a game changer.
“I come from an immigrant family and from a family who have always told me to remember my roots and be proud of that. With everything that’s happening in the world, it comes very naturally to me to stand up and talk about injustices. I’m very outspoken about the things that are important to me.”
Dua Lipa Biography and Profile (Dua Lipa, Vogue)