Billie Eilish believes that people are multifaceted—and that includes her. “I spent most of my life being very masculine and boyish, and I kind of recently, in the last couple of years, was kind of like, ‘You know what, I’m allowed to be whatever I want to be when I want to be it,’” she says. “I don’t need to always prove to everyone that I’m a tomboy. Like, that is what I am, but I also am this kind of girl. I’m also feminine, and I’m also sexy, and I’m also cute, and I’m also just like, none of the above, and I’m just me.”
Another example: In her professional sphere, Eilish is a Grammy Award–winning pop star and a perfumer. “I remember when it was brought up to me that I could have my own fragrance, I was like, ‘Wait, I can do that?! Like what are you talking about, really?’” says Eilish, who released her first self-titled perfume in 2021. “I really am just such an admirer of all things fragrance and am very excited that I’m now part of the world.” With the recent release of Eilish No. 2, a wet and woodsy fragrance housed in a slate gray version of the original’s sleekly segmented body bottle (“I’m kind of obsessed with bodies, dude. I just always have been”), Eilish is expanding her presence in the space.
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“My original idea was that I wanted whatever my second fragrance was to smell and feel like damp, rained-on concrete, like a sidewalk after the rain, and how that has such a specific smell—it just reminds me of my childhood,” says Eilish. “It kind of turned into this rain world, but also this more woodsy world.” This invented landscape, like the bottle, is also gray—a reality created, in part, by the pop star’s innate synesthesia. “Eilish 2 always felt to me like this grey kind of world. There’s no world where Eilish 2 would be, like, an orange or something.” The same goes for the original perfume. “That was only ever going to be an amber colour. It was only ever going to be this warm amber-brownish gold color; that’s just how it was in my head when I smelled it.”
For Eilish, the colours, along with the bottle shape, are just as important as the scent itself. “I have this problem where I’ll smell like a sample of perfume that isn’t mine, just a sample of a perfume—and you know, little samplers, they all look the same, they’re all like little vials with a black or white top—and then you like it, and you order the big version of it, and the bottle is a colour and a shape that doesn’t look or feel anything like what the scent is to me,” she says. “And then I can’t wear it anymore, because now it’s wrong.”
If these thoughts seem disparate, they’re not. Eilish is a 21-year-old creative phenom and has been busily world-building—in the public eye, no less—since she was 13. Along with expressing her inherent worldview, tastes, and talent, that translates to growing up, trying things, liking them, ditching them, and doing her best to rely on her own compass despite a constant barrage of outside opinions.
This year’s Met Gala saw Eilish donning a gothic, sheer Simone Rocha gown, a beribboned and braided ponytail, and sultry eye makeup—full, full glam. But post-Met? “I went back to the hotel and was just like, get this offfff me!” she says. “I put on big North Face pants, a big zip-up jacket, a backward hat, and some Jordans—and that’s how I feel the best. I feel so powerful like that.” But, again…people are composed of contradictions. “I’m trying to be more comfortable wearing makeup, like a lot of makeup,” says Eilish, who notes that she strives to embrace the power that comes with hyper-femininity. “Obviously, I wear a little makeup all the time, but it’s just like, big faces of makeup…it’s something that I look up to, and I admire, and for me, I’m just like so scared of it.”
Fear likely isn’t something that most fans equate with Eilish, who exudes an IDGAF air born partly from her preferred aesthetic and partly from her time in the spotlight. But after years of image and body shaming and incessant criticism (particularly via social media), she really does GAF.
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“Dude, I don’t even know. It’s tough, man,” says Eilish. “Honestly, nobody can say anything about my body that I don’t have a stronger opinion about […] I also think that if I was younger, like if the internet talked about me the way they do now when I was like 11, I don’t think I would be able to exist, to be honest,” she continues. “I like myself more than I used to, and I’m more interested in how I feel than how they feel. But then also that might be a load of bullshit because it still hurts my feelings like a sonabitch.”
That said, there are solutions. “I like to take baths,” she says. “Honestly, I play a lot of games on my phone, and it makes me feel really good.” Eilish also likes Rihanna (“I think that I decided the other day that I think she’s the hottest person to ever exist in the history of the world”), hanging out with her family, and animals. “Dogs, big dogs…like if I’m around big dogs, I’m chill,” she says. “But it’s really hard, you know? I’ve had a rough time, TBH, and I’m still figuring it out. But it’s definitely a weird life; I’ll say that.”
In short: Whether you identify with her vibe, her music, or her scents, the worlds that Billie builds are all about attention, authenticity, and self-awareness. And what is a disruptor if not ever-evolving?
See Eilish’s official playlist for Eilish No 2. below:
Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
Stargirl Interlude (feat. Lana Del Rey) – The Weeknd
Mile High (feat. Travis Scott & Metro Boomin) – James Blake
Explode – The Cardigans
Walk On By – Isaac Hayes
Blue Jay Way – The Beatles
Iceberg – Tweet
SPLIT DECISION – PARTYNEXTDOOR
Closer – Nine Inch Nails
Charger (feat. Grace Jones) – Gorillaz
Ferrari – The Neighbourhood
All to You – Sabrina Claudio
Unfold – Alina Baraz, Galimatias
Childs Play (feat. Chance the Rapper) – SZA
THE NEWS – PARTYNEXTDOOR
Higher – The Cardigans
Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys
This article first appeared on Vogue.com.