That’s Fashion Sweetie: Revenge is best served in an LBD

Dua Lipa performs.
Singer-songwriter and former model Dua Lipa is set to release a new song, “Dance the Night,” this Friday for the upcoming “Barbie” movie. (Ralph PH | Wikimedia Commons)

Since high school, I’ve always taken advantage of summer in one way or another. Whether that was in the form of internships or upgrading my style palette for the year, there was one task that was never left off the summer to-do list: “glow up.” 

I put it in quotes because one, in California this meant soaking in the sun to achieve the golden-bronze glow of my dreams and two, glowing up always meant something new to me.

While in my younger years I took this literally, by hitting the gym hard and eating super healthy, recently it’s been about finding balance and working on my mental well-being. Especially with new graduates leaving my life, I’ve been particularly prioritizing my relationships and putting in a better effort to reach out and keep in touch. 

The summer is usually ideal for a glow-up because of the warm weather and because I finally have time to actively work on my goals, instead of passively and half-heartedly doing so amid papers and labs. Nevertheless, glow-ups can happen at any time of the year — a sunny (or cold) winter break, a random Tuesday afternoon or, according to celebrities, with the hard launch of a new romantic partner. 

This is otherwise known as the post-breakup or revenge glow-up. Seen most recently at the Cannes Film Festival, Dua Lipa arrived in a stunning Celine cutout black satin gown with new boyfriend and French director, Romain Gavras. 

And she looked hot. 

Not only did she make splashes on headlines, but her ex, Anwar Hadid, immediately went to Instagram after the new pair’s reveal to post stories captioned “I can’t breathe” and “I hate the way you say my name.” 

This immediately made me think of my maneater playlist, and particularly the song “Who is She?” by I Monster, specifically the opening lyrics “Oh, who is she? / A misty memory / A haunting face / Is she a lost embrace?” 

Dua Lipa perfectly resembled the mystery girl in I Monster’s song, from the daring cutouts and a high leg slit to the classic updo of her dark hair, perfectly complimenting the Tiffany and Co. drop earrings. 

She embodied the dark feminine energy and glowed from the inside, but I couldn’t help wondering how the launch would have been impacted if she wore a different dress.

When trying to picture Dua Lipa in a brighter color or amped up sultriness — such as her multi-colored crystal butterfly Atelier Versace dress at the 2021 Grammy Awards or even her 2022 Grammy look with the strappy gold and black Versace corset dress — it wouldn’t have given the same impression.  

The truth of the matter is that the Celine gown was the perfect revenge glow-up gown for one reason: It was classy but remained daring. The one shoulder perfectly balanced the asymmetrical back; the cutouts across her chest still didn’t reveal any direct under- or side-boob; her waist was tapered in and the leg slit was just high and thin enough to hint at her exposed leg, but not show all of it.

In addition, her bangs were intentionally shadowing and drawing attention to her dark, glittery smokey eyes, keeping the rest of the face neutral and complemented by the minimalist jewelry. 

So then: What makes the perfect revenge dress when studying Dua Lipa, and who else has come close to perfecting the art of the dark feminine, post-breakup glow-up hard launch?

Lori Harvey, when hard-launching British actor Damson Idris, kept her hair in soft Hollywood curls, donned a nude-brown smokey eye and also wore an asymmetric, drooping one-shoulder, slightly sheer black dress. 

It seems the key is to keep the makeup neutral and warm with emphasis on the eyes, the hair soft and out of the face and the dresses black, tasteful and mysterious. 

Of course, the perfect dress for you will depend on what colors compliment your skin tone and your personal preferences for fits, necklines, cuts, shapes and lengths. At the end of the day, confidence and a glow that comes from the inside is what will make you look insatiable and (if this is a post-breakup glow-up or hard launch) have your ex shamefully scrolling through your old photos. 

But from what I’ve gathered at Cannes this year, revenge is best served in an LBD: a long black dress. 

Hadyn Phillips is a rising junior writing about fashion in the 21st century, specifically spotlighting new trends and popular controversy in her column, “That’s Fashion, Sweetie.”