Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Titled LILAC, a flower that signifies “memories of youth,” IU’s lead single from her fifth studio album has achieved a perfect all-kill on Korea’s digital charts, her second this year after the pre-release track Celebrity achieved similar success. In an interview with W Korea, IU expressed that for this album, she wanted to say “farewell to her 20s and also express her gratitude to all the people who’ve watched that time of her life.” From lyrical references to her 2010 hit track Good Day to a music video cameo from singer-songwriter Jung Jae-hyung who appeared in Good Day’s music video, LILAC pays homage to her early 20s. However, IU’s also ready to greet the next chapter of her life, as indicated in lyrics like “What kind of goodbye can be this perfect? / Love me only till this spring.” The final scene of the music video shows the singer-songwriter awaiting a train that symbolizes her 30s. The album itself comes in two versions – BYLAC (in a somber black and white) and HILAC (featuring shades of purple) – representing a farewell and a greeting.
IU also stated that with this album, she wanted to create a blockbuster of big music and stories. Likewise, LILAC’s music video moves from one stage of her life to another like a movie, with thrilling parties and fight sequences. Sartorially, we also get to see the star in outfits that suit these varying sequences, running the gamut from preppy to vintage luxe to androgynous. Read on to recreate all seven unique looks from her music video!
In the opening shot of the music video, IU is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in a well-lit train station. She enters in a preppy, color-blocked outfit comprising a white pussy-bow blouse, a bold red A-line mini skirt and a plaid puff-sleeve blazer mixing dark green and vibrant pink colors. To match the blazer, she dons dark green Mary Jane heels with white ankle socks, a green headband weaved through her braid, and a retro green suitcase. On her ears, she has small square studs in brown.
This short scene features plenty of Easter eggs, such as a departure board that lists her previous albums starting from 2012’s The Spring of Twenty. She holds a train ticket with references to LILAC’s release date (March 25), her Korean age (29), and “HILAC” and “BYLAC” indicated as the departure and destination, respectively.
She’s seen in the same outfit at the music video’s close, pulling confetti out of her hair, which is now disheveled and loosened from her braid. At a darkened platform, IU appears despondent as she bids the train conductor adieu. But then a bright light and loud ringing sound approaches, implying that the train symbolizing her 30s has arrived.
Channeling the vintage luxe wardrobe of her character Jang Man-wol in the 2019 TV series Hotel del Luna, IU mirrors the purple and blue interiors of the train car in a purple satin shirt and purple pleated midi skirt, as well as a pair of blue heels. Black leggings and a black velvet hair bow add even more elegance to the get-up.
This sequence represents IU at the beginning of her career. She is excited just to be there, despite others giving her strange looks. She’s apologetic as she trips and bumps into other passengers, and tries hard to fit in as they break out in a synchronized dance sequence.
Jumping back to the train station for a quick dance break, IU’s next outfit is more casual and wearable. It stars a cropped lilac long-sleeve blouse that includes a row of buttons, front ruching, shoulder cut outs, ruffles and tie-waist detail. Her high-waist flared pants and point-toe sock boots, which draw inspo from 70s disco fashion, are both white. Her backup dancers are also dressed in cropped white tops, high-waist white shorts and white boots. As such, IU’s lilac top really stands out. Silver-tone accessories like a thin rhinestone belt and a pair of tasseled four-leaf clover earrings elevate her ensemble with a touch of glam.
As the train chugs full speed ahead through a tunnel, the cabin shrugs off its retro fashion and morphs into the set of a sleek, modern party. The blue-lit cabin is decorated with silver circle garlands and crammed with dancing passengers. This scene depicts IU’s rising success and popularity, as she stands at the center of it all. She wears an understated yet glamorous black halter-neck mini dress adorned with sequins, paired with rhinestone heart dangle earrings and black satin gloves. Rocking one of the heavier makeup looks in this music video – rose gold glitter eye shadow, mascara and glossy red lips – she gives off a sultry vibe.
Moving into a cityscape bathed in a mysterious red glow, the cabin transforms into the set of a classic Chinese martial arts film, with intricate wood furniture and red floral walls. IU is seen nursing her wounds, showing the hardships she has faced and the tenacity she has developed on this journey. Jung Jae-hyung enters with a plate of food, and behind him comes a queue of gangsters in black suits. IU throws punches as they run toward her, one at a time. Thankfully, she’s clad in an oversized white satin shirt, loose-fit black trousers and a pair of sneakers (a powerful, masculine look that’s still chic), with her hair tied back in a ponytail, allowing her to fight them off with ease.
Transitioning into another dance sequence, IU is prim, proper and dolled up in a long-sleeve, silky, white mini dress with allover ruffles and a rhinestone-adorned collar, as well as matching ankle-strap sequin heels. Flipping the color palette of LILAC’s earlier dance sequence, IU is swathed in white while her backup dancers are wearing purple dresses with ruffle details.
Flashing back to the same train car at the beginning of the video, IU and the rest of the passengers revel amidst showers of lilac-colored confetti. However, some swipe away at the confetti in irritation and give IU judgmental looks. This scene represents the joy IU experiences as she reaches the end of her 20s, reflecting on her achievements and her readiness to move onto the next stage. While some rejoice alongside her, others may find her over the top or fail to understand the cause for celebration.
Here, IU is in a romantic short-sleeve floral dress in beige and red, fitted with puff sleeves, a mock neck, a cinched waistband and a full, swishy skirt. Her hair is tied back in a bun and held back with a silver rhinestone headband. Her red floral dress makes a statement that stands out against the purple and blue interiors as well as the pastel-toned outfits worn by other passengers, showing that she has fully bloomed in confidence and no longer feels the need to blend in with her surroundings.
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