Dalida: A Timeless Icon

I can’t possibly find any other word to describe her. She simply was timeless; her songs, her voice, her fashion style and look were ageless. Even her face and body didn't age throughout the years of her career. She once said "A person must adapt to the current environment to succeed in the time in which he/she lives." And that is exactly what she did and which kept her trendy for 31 years, until her death. But her fame didn't stop after her passing. People continued to listen to her music; she appeared daily on TV, radio and magazines, as if she was still in this world. Someone would wonder wasn't she old-fashioned in the 90s and for the 21st century? No! The reason why people still loved her was her "timelessness.” Her appearance was simply for all times. In some way she found the elixir against aging, a thing that people always seek to find.

The story of Dalida can't be told in just a few words. The complex history of her career and private life can be discussed for weeks. I was lucky to discover her during my early teen years when I appreciated memorable melodies. One winter I accidentally ran into her songs on radio. This introduction could not have been more idyllic. It later turned out that I came across her 1967 era, the trendiest part of her career, a period right after her fiancée’s suicide, her suicide attempt, and when she had lost her unborn child. People would say that she only suffered in her life, but Dalida also had beautiful and amazing moments.

Real named Iolanda was a girl of an unseen beauty. Her initial wish to become an actress and model led her to become Miss Egypt and to relocate to France. Young Italian girl couldn’t manage her private life, so she spent most of her efforts on discovering her self through singing. She succeeded to sign a contract in 1956, and several months after she became an overnight star with a new name, Dalida. While Dalida worked 24/7 on her professional future, the 31-year Iolanda was slowly dying inside. As a woman from a family with strong Christian faith, she wanted to simply be a mother, a hardworking housewife with a husband and children. Sadly, her biggest life wish never came true. Her first and only marriage in 1961 failed. Her longest 9-year relationship broke down in 1981. Both three of the men in her life committed suicide. She might have had several other minor relationships, but only for the purpose of finding true love. Dalida always said "The most important thing is love."

Just like other people, Dalida spent life trying to achieve her main goal. In her case it was love, and she didn't succeed in finding it. That was the only reason behind her decision to end her life in 1987. Although her private life was marked with bad memories, Dalida also had a huge amount of beautiful moments with her friends and partners, with whom she spent good times. Parties, travelling and movie filming, TV appearances, etc. they all left her with unique souvenirs. Her career was a pure success. From 1956 to 1987 she would deliver a dozen of songs annually, at least one would became the hit of the year. We all know a couple of her undaunted hits: Gigi l'amoroso, Paroles paroles, Il venait d'avoir 18 ans, Laissez-moi danser, Bambino... Her songs were succeeded with global concerts and appearances wearing iconic wardrobes still carved in the memories of her fans. Dalida had an audience in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. She is the biggest singer in the Francophone world.

Through her songs Dalida also reflected her own melancholy. The fascinating thing about her is that despite the sad lyrics, she was not a weak woman. She sang joyful songs. Her repertoire adapted to changes in her life. Those changes shaped Dalida, the woman who created styles and at the same time adapted to them. “Life, has become unbearable to me. Forgive me,” she wrote at the end. But the grief and passion of the songs have survived. Her art can help us endure our own pain, or enjoy life for a few hours while we dance on the beautiful melodies of her mythical hits.

Article by Dujo Bulic owner of Dalida Ideal Instagram Page - Illustration by Madhav Sankar R Warrier

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