Sashaying along one of London‘s most chic streets dressed head-to-toe in high-end couture, Lily Allen strikes an elegant image on her debut as a fashion muse – so very different from the way the singer looked not long ago when her hedonistic lifestyle threatened both her career and her health.
Just five years back, with her first marriage having collapsed, she was pictured eagerly swigging from a whiskey bottle and then from a can of cider at the Notting Hill Carnival.
But today, the 36-year-old mother-of-two, with her neat figure and carefully contoured cheekbones, cuts a much more wholesome figure, with top fashion brands now lining up to have her wear their clothes.
As well as being hired by Fendi’s artistic director Kim Jones – Victoria Beckham‘s best friend – Allen was paid a five-figure fee by Dior to post pictures of its products on social media.
Lily Allen has been hired by Fendi’s artistic director Kim Jones and was also paid a five-figure fee by Dior to post pictures of its products on social media
Lily’s pride at how her life has turned around, and at how she recently achieved two years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs, is obvious from the pictures she shares with her 1.5 million Instagram followers.
Instead of non-stop partying, her life now consists of early morning online workouts, boxing sessions then breakfasts of goji berries.
‘Having reformed her habits, Lily has suddenly found herself in demand from classy fashion brands,’ says someone who knows her well.
She’s also making her West End debut in the play 2:22 – A Ghost Story and has been busy promoting the production on TV.
In June, Lily returned to the UK following a stint in New York where she and her second husband, 46-year-old American actor David Harbour, spent time with the two young daughters from her previous marriage to decorator Sam Cooper.
She is also preparing to release her next album, in which every song, as this newspaper previously revealed, will be named after a man in the music industry who she says has taken advantage of her.
She made a very public stand after her record label failed to act when she told them that she had been sexually assaulted by an industry figure in 2016 at a hotel in the Caribbean.
Having lost all confidence in music industry bosses, Allen is funding the new album herself by selling her clothes on second-hand fashion website Depop.
Allen, 36, is also preparing to release her next album, in which every song will be named after a man in the music industry who she says has taken advantage of her
The mother-of-two has recently achieved two years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs and her life now consists of early morning online workouts, then breakfasts of goji berries
Friends say: ‘She was hurt a lot. Such behaviour wounds young women very deeply but Lily is now turning the experience round and dealing with it in a cathartic way. Writing the album has massively helped her cope with it.’
Earlier this year, Allen recalled her bad days, saying: ‘I was 14 stone and did not feel like a pop star at all. So I started taking this drug called Adderall, which is like speed, to lose the weight. I got addicted to it because it made me invincible and I could work really long hours and be all the people I was required to be.’
At one of her lowest ebbs, at the Notting Hill Carnival in August 2016, Allen needed the assistance of her then boyfriend, grime rapper MC Meridian Dan, to carry her home.
It was a typical escapade for the latterday ladette who arrived on the showbusiness scene with a bang in 2006. Her debut single Smile went straight to No 1.
Meanwhile, it quickly became obvious that she had inherited the hell-raiser gene from her actor father, Keith Allen.
She has confessed to using ketamine, a horse tranquilliser that can cost regular users their bladders, due to massive damage to the urinary tract.
Lily also recounted how she consumed so many drugs during one glitzy London ceremony that she had to be carried out and loaded comatose into the back of a taxi. In 2015, she collapsed at Glastonbury and had to be treated by paramedics.
One factor in her troubles must have been the emotional toll of being forced to sell her £4.2 million Gloucestershire home to pay a tax bill.
She has said: ‘I lost my marriage. I lost my house I worked for ten years to buy. My career started sinking. I lost all my friends. I was so resentful. So angry all the time. Really felt like the world owed me stuff. That went on for another four years.’
She also admitted feeling guilty about neglecting her daughters when they were little.
I witnessed a drunk and dishevelled Allen at the Royal Opera House in 2008, enjoying GQ magazine’s ‘men of the year’ awards. She rudely hectored several journalists – myself included – following too many glasses of champagne.
As the ceremony co-host with Elton John, she slurred her words and used the f-word five times when she introduced television presenter Carol Vorderman to the stage.
Just five years back, with her first marriage having collapsed, Allen was pictured swigging from a whiskey bottle (left) and then from a can of cider (right) at the Notting Hill Carnival
At one of her lowest ebbs, at the Notting Hill Carnival in August 2016, Allen needed the assistance of her then boyfriend, grime rapper MC Meridian Dan, to carry her home
Elton intervened jocularly, saying to Allen: ‘I could still snort you under the table.’ To which Allen replied: ‘F*** off. I don’t know what you are talking about.’
Five years later, at London private members’ club The Groucho, she regaled me with stories about how she was getting fit by using the trendy gym classes at Barry’s Bootcamp.
I wrote a story based on what she had told me, but this offended her and she turned to Twitter to claim that I had made it up.
Today, the reformed Lily Allen’s social media incursions are much more upbeat, reflecting her new-found self-confidence.
Whereas her public comments were once deeply political – such as pledging to give a refugee a room in her own home after visiting a migrant camp in Calais – she recently wrote the phrase ‘a bit hot’ next to a picture of herself wearing black silk underwear and a face mask.
A day later she posed again in a lilac Melissa Odabash bikini. Holding a can of Coke to protect her modesty, she joked that she ‘doesn’t even drink Coca-Cola’ and that the can was discreetly placed because she hadn’t ‘had a wax’.
Speaking of her home life, she says she’s ‘in a really happy and healthy relationship’ with her second husband, who has been sober for 20 years.
‘We’re thinking about what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives… I don’t have as much as I [once] had in terms of success and wealth, but I have success and health in my mind, which is more valuable, I think.’
And that’s surely reason enough to Smile…