The Christina Aguilera comeback is nigh.
Okay, maybe it’s a bit hyperbolic to use the phrase “comeback”—possibly the most-hated noun in pop culture spheres—but what is undeniable is that the lady is reinventing herself, starting with a whole new look.
“I feel in life when you get to a place where you feel so comfortable, and so routine, then you know you have to stop and start from scratch,” she says in a foreboding Instagram video in which she’s inexplicably lighting matches and lying in dark pools of water. (Is it a metaphor?)
The ‘gram was posted one day before her new single “Accelerate,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz (and apparently produced by Kanye West) was released; the song will be on her forthcoming album Liberation, due out on June 15.
As for starting over, Xtina is putting her money where her cherry red mouth used to be. Our first clue to emergence of Christina 2.0 arrived when she covered Paper magazine back in March. Sans her iconic lacquered lips and winged black eyeliner—which was second in music history only to that of Amy Winehouse—the former glamazon made us do a double-take. “Christina Aguilera Is Unrecognizable!” the headlines screamed.
On Thursday—the same day she revealed to Billboard that she will not return to The Voice as a judge—the stripped back transformation was confirmed with the debut of the “Accelerate” music video.
Styled by Zoe Costello, who also works with Very Cool People like Migos, Rich the Kid and Justine Skye, Aguilera brought her signature sex appeal but left the flashy costumes at home, instead opting for high-fashion labels and limited accessories, save for a handful of jewels adorning her ears. “I didn’t want the clothing to stand out too much,” Costello told InStyle over the phone on Thursday of her decision to outfit the star in an oversize plaid Monse pantsuit and a black Vetements trench.
“It’s not really distracting, it all feels like part of her, and it all works together,” added Costello. The bicoastal stylist, who outfitted Aguilera for her Billboard cover shoot as well, used words like “natural,” “raw,” and “emotional” to describe Xtina’s new Liberation look, adding that a 2011 Calvin Klein One advertisement had also served as inspiration for Aguilera’s makeover.
“With old Christina you see the hair and the makeup and the clothes, but you don’t’ really see Christina,” she said. “Here, you see her.”
Aguilera also worked with makeup artist Kali Kennedy, who was responsible for her dewy glow from the Paper shoot, to create the glittery, gooey and ahem, PG-13-rated beauty looks.
As with every fresh start, we also have to say our goodbyes. With the emergence of Fashion Aguilera, we bid adieu to Mousketeer-era Aguilera, with her bouncy curls and argyle sweaters; we say so long to 1999 Aguilera, when the singer was rocking her version of the “the Rachel” haircut on the cover of her self-titled debut; farewell to Stripped Aguilera, who inspired thousands of suburban pre-teens to get nose piercings and take scissors to their tank tops, much to the chagrin of concerned parents; and adios to the bustier-clad pin-up Aguilera, who has lived on for most of the past ten years, through Back to Basics (2006), Bionic (2010), and Lotus (2012). (There were many memorable style moments in between, to be sure—remember when she had black hair?—but almost 30 years in the spotlight is a lot of ground to cover. )
Xtina is not the only former Mousketeer to undergo a style reinvention in the year 2018. Britney Spears recently landed her first major fashion campaign as the face of Kenzo's La Momento Collection, and just a few months ago, Justin Timberlake—the OG Justin of pop music, despite whatever nonsense your 13-year-old Belieber cousin might spew—underwent quite the transformation himself, stepping out, for better or worse, in a custom camouflage Stella McCartney at the Super Bowl.
While JT's new look was panned by the unofficial fashion critics of Twitter, reception to Aguilera's reinvention has, thus far, been celebrated by fans who miss the "Dirrty" days and regularly belt "Beautiful" at karaoke with the conviction of Mean Girls' Damian.
At least we finally know what a girl wants: A fresh start.
This article orginally appeared on InStyle U.S.