It's not uncommon to see the fashion industry latch onto a pretty, well-dressed someone and transform her into a permanent fixture at parties and on the front row scene. Oftentimes, it's completely unclear what these "It" girls actually do for a living. Model? DJ? Instagram pretty photos of their post-workout green juices?
Not so with Rita Ora, the 23-year-old Kosovo-born, London-raised singer signed to Jay-Z's record label, Roc Nation. Though far from a household name in the States — we admit that we hadn't heard of her until she was linked to Cara Delevingne and/or Rob Kardashian — she's a well-known personality overseas. Her single "How We Do (Party)" peaked at just #62 in the U.S. but topped the UK charts.
Over the last two years, the singer has steadily been climbing her way to the top of the fashion heap, too: Designing a capsule collection for Adidas Originals, walking the Moschino show in February, closing the DKNY show that same month and most recently, snagging fall campaigns for both DKNY and Roberto Cavalli. She's also covered the U.S. edition of Elle for its "Women in Music" issue, as well as a slew of international titles and indie pubs including Paper and Hunger.
But the question remains: Why exactly has Ora struck such a chord with designers and editors?
As many partnerships in the fashion and beauty space begin nowadays, Ora’s social media following — she has over 2.5 million followers on Instagram and over 3.73 million on Twitter — likely plays a large part in her current popularity among brands and publications.
Glamour magazine, which features a photo diary from Ora in its August issue, called on the singer to take over its Instagram account on Thursday, and according to Anne Sachs, Glamour.com's editorial director, the glossy gained upwards of 2,000 followers in less than 12 hours thanks to Ora’s participation.
“From a content perspective, a lot of our readers today are first introduced to our brand through social media,” Sachs explained. “If you have someone like Ora take over your Instagram, it’s like she is making a person-to-person introduction — ‘If you like my beauty and fashion posts, you’ll like what Glamour is posting, too.”
Sachs also suggests that her unique sense of style is what helps to set her apart and how she draws in so many admirers -- both fans and brands. "She's not scared to make bold fashion and beauty choices, making her a lot of fun to follow," she said. "She has a signature beauty look, but she’s not afraid to break out of it, either."
Patti Cohen, executive vice president of global marketing and communications at DKNY, says that Ora's energy and street style resonate with the brand. After dressing her for a few red carpet events in 2012 and having her perform at an event in London last year, the team asked if she would front its resort and fall campaigns, as well as its new #MYNY fragrance. Ora wore Donna Karan to the Met Ball in May.
"Her social presence is powerful," Cohen wrote in an email. "You can feel the buzz when you shoot with her on the street."
And, of course, there's the obvious. Ora looks great in clothes and she photographs incredibly well. She has bold taste, perfect to match up with someone like Jeremy Scott. Jay-Z and Beyoncé like her. Fashion has always loved musicians.
Our question is, can she move product, especially in the U.S. where she's less well known? That remains to be seen. We'll have a better idea after the collections from her first slew of major campaigns hit stores this fall.
Front page photo: Mike Coppola/Getty