Being restrained by the boy band code and possibly his age — after all, he was only 16 when he joined One Direction — it took a few years for Harry to really put the style into Styles, writes Paula Burns.
We are all familiar with the uniform that belongs to the boy band. From matching suits to the easy-going trend of hoodies, t-shirt, and jeans combo, the formula is one made to project wholesomeness.
They have been hand picked to give the movie-type illusion of the boy-next door. Reachable yet in some way unattainable. There’s no room for rogue individuality here.
However, every now and then, one goes against the grain, refusing to allow their uniqueness remain suppressed. Case in point being One Direction’s Harry Styles.
Now a fully-fledged style icon, his years as a member of the world’s biggest boy band saw his fashion wings clipped. Though there were certainly hints along the way. The high-tops adorned with a pink furry bauble were perhaps a subtle statement of what was to come.
However, being restrained by the boy band code and possibly his age — he was only 16 when he joined the band — it took a few years for Harry to really put the style into Styles.
As the band evolved so did Harry’s style. Subtle at first, he began to break away from the trackie bottoms to fitted Burberry shirts, skinny jeans and boots. Leaving his band-mates behind in tumbleweed of questionable style choices, Harry stepped out in designer pieces by Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent.
His signature look became that of the Tuxedo jacket, fitted shirts and silk scarves. By the end of 2013, those in fashion started to take notice, resulting in him winning a British Fashion Award for his personal style.
Harry was now a style icon in the making, though sartorially what he was doing wasn’t exactly ground-breaking. The music industry has always been alight with artists breaking the fashion mould — even the men.
Think back to the 70s where David Bowie’s, Ziggy Stardust entered a new realm of throwing shade on conformity. A man in full make-up, Lycra jumpsuit, and platforms was breaking the mould, allowing fashion to be apart of the artistic expression.
The 80s saw the New Romantics, like Adam Ant embrace the ruffle shirt and most famously make-up. This was make-up that had never been seen before, especially on men. It was more art then simply coverage.
Just like Bowie, their style was just as important as the music. The image they created spoke to the fans on a visual level while the music told the story.
It was a submergence that was vital to the entire creative entity. There were no restraints and as Harry’s career blossomed and the limitations of being in a boy band faltered, he too could now create his own sartorial story.
What is interesting is the turn that Harry’s style evolution has taken. It’s not far from that of Bowie or the New Romantics.
There’s a touch of the dandy to it a certain Oscar Wilde flamboyancy. The feminine approach to style by these men was the beginnings of androgynous fashion. For women to pull off the androgynous look they wore trouser suits, for men it was Marie Antoinette scale collars and eyeliner.
So in the modern world where androgyny has been replaced by gender fluid dressing, Harry’s style aesthetic has been born.
The powder pink suit he wore on America’s Today show was not only akin to one worn by Mick Jagger in the 70s it is also an example of a piece that both men and women could wear with confidence. Both genders can look stylish and dare we say sexy wearing the same look.
Since becoming the face of Gucci in 2018 and muse to its creative director Alessandro Michele, Harry has given the designs his own authentic stamp.
From lavender tones to bold floral suits to the bright blue velvet flared trouser suit he wore to introduce Stevie Nicks to the Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of fame, ostentatious style is a good look for him.
With Michele’s revival of Gucci to a forward thinking design house where gender fluidity has been central to its recent collections — men wore pieces from the women’s collections and vice versa — Styles has gained even more notoriety and acceptance within the inner workings of the fashion elite.
This was solidified when he co-chaired this years Camp themed Met Gala with Lady Gaga.
The first Monday in May is the most coveted event of the fashion calendar. The gala, which is hosted by the hailing queen of fashion, Anna Wintour has a very selective guest list.
For Harry to have shaken off those One Direction days of hoodies and baseball caps to donning a pearl earring and sheer shirt (and pulling it off) on the steps of the Met, as co-chair is what fashion fairy-tales are made of.
Continuing his embrace of fashion for all, Styles and his stylist Harry Lambert chose an up and coming Central Saint Martins designer, Harris Reed to design some of his recent tour looks.
An alumnus of Alessandro Michele, Reed deems himself as a gender fluid designer. He has even created a genderless fragrance for Gucci, which he starred alongside Harry in for the campaign.
This movement of androgyny to fluidity has become a central part to the style evolution of Generation Z. Breaking from the status quo and immersing himself with like-minded designers has allowed Styles to soar as the fashion icon he was always suppose to be.