Lily-Rose Depp channels sexy sleaze in HBO’s The Idol: A portrayal of indie sleaze’s sultry side

By Jennifer Raymont

Published May 13, 2023 at 09:15 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

The release of HBO’s The Idol, starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd, has been a long time coming, but after much anticipation, it will finally premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in just under a month.

 

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From the controversial mastermind behind Euphoria, Sam Levinson, the series is a satire of fame. Delving into the toxic relationship between rising pop star Jocelyn, played by Depp, and cult leader/mentor/Depp’s love interest, Tedros, played by The Weeknd, the series also sees cameos from the likes of OG YouTuber-turned-singer Troye Sivan and BLACKPINK’s Jennie Kim.

Apart from being deemed “the sleaziest love story of all time,” by HBO itself, the series’ plot has been kept mainly under wraps. The newly-released trailers, however, have given us a sneak peek into a highly toxic and realistic Hollywood music industry, where sex, drugs, violence, and manipulation dominate. Imagine a universe where Euphoria’s Maddy drops out of school to become a pop star.

 

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Much like the careers of young women in the public eye, the series was under overwhelming scrutiny and need for reinvention in order to stay relevant. After sacking off the show’s initial director Amy Seimetz, Levinson and The Weeknd took full control and The Idol was flipped on its head—but perhaps not for the better.

After multiple reshoots and postponed release dates, the toxic pair shifted the series’ focus away from a predominantly female perspective of reclaiming her own agency towards a brash, sex-heavy love story.

As Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis’ daughter, Lily-Rose Depp’s inclusion in the highly anticipated series was hotly contested. Many questioned whether she had earnt the role fair and square, or if it was her nepo baby status that boosted her chances—either way, having her name attached to the project definitely helped increase online hype.

Depp has certainly thrown caution to the wind as she swapped her clean girl Chanel bride image for that of the hyper-sexualised Jocelyn. We certainly can’t wait to see mummy and daddy’s reaction to The Idol.

From recording studio slip dresses and live show booty-cheek bodysuits to dingy club skimpy bikini tops, costume designer Natasha Newman-Thomas expertly uses Depp’s wardrobe to transport us into the midst of Los Angeles’ seediest crowds and circles. While some publications have attached the indie sleaze aesthetic to the series, we can’t help but feel as though the show represents something slightly different, something we’re now calling sexy sleaze.

 

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Parallels can be drawn with the ultimate spiralling pop girl, Britney Spears, who Depp turned to for her character’s inspiration. “Who doesn’t love Britney?” the actress told W Magazine. “I wanted Jocelyn to be the kind of woman who can dominate a room, someone who doesn’t ever shy away from their sparkle.”

Speaking of sparkle, one of the show’s stand out looks sees Depp in a glittery, skin-baring bodysuit with an overlined pout and a flurry of pink hair extensions in what can only be described as a post-shag disarray. Miles away from the nepo baby’s minimal French girl aesthetic, this is a look we wish we could steal to perform to our own sold out show, in other words, to our bedroom mirror.

 

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As an it girl herself, could Depp hold the power to boost sexy sleeze to the heights that  Y2K reached? We certainly think so. The aesthetic lends itself impeccably well to festival season, not to mention the timing of The Idol’s release. Underboob already lives rent free at festivals while barely-there bralettes are not only justifiable in the summer heat but also reminisce of the iconic British icon Effy from Skins.

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Trend forecast: indie sleaze revival #trendcycle #nostalgia #tumblrfashion #indiekid

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The concept of female pop stars showing some skin in an attempt to maintain success and boost their profile is nothing new, it’s also a normal stage of growing up and becoming a woman. Taylor Swift swapped cowboy boots for thigh highs and bodysuits, while Spears retired her school uniform for snakes and latex—all transitions that helped them further understand their public personas.

The Idol’s trailer questions “when was the last truly nasty, nasty, bad pop girl?” And Jocelyn does feel like a real response to that. But, have Levinson and The Weeknd created a show where we actually get to take a proper peek into the life of a female artist finding herself, or is this just going to be another problematic deep dive into the male gaze?

Despite the ups and downs of production, The Idol is bound to make an impact—whether it’s a positive or negative one remains to be seen—and so will its fashion. So get ready to bare all as sexy sleaze takes the stage.

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