In the immediate opening to the video of his latest, inevitable number one, 'Golden', Harry Styles does what we all want to do in this godforsaken year. He is running away. He's had enough. It's all too much, this tier two, three point five coronascale business. There's an air corridor to Germany. Cologne, here we come.
Except, unlike us, the 26-year-old isn't clutching for the old faithful sweat suit. Covid doesn't kill the fantasy of pop music. On the contrary, this pandemic business seems to have solidified the eternal summer of Styles' shtick: a dreamy, sun-kissed oasis that's only one ba-da-ba-ba away from "you and me, always". Unsurprisingly, there's a wardrobe to match. The showman suits of last year are still in storage. The former directioneer has doubled down on the louche Edwardian prince on his annual leave: big open baggy shirts (a bit like Jacquemus, but slightly more Sean Bean in Sharpe), ice cream pastels for a hot summer's night dream, floral pantaloons by Liverpudlian designer Steven Stokey-Daley that sit both high on the waist and on menswear's agenda. Designers remain locked in a slow waltz with the fey and the whimsical (Bode, Gucci, Casablanca et al), and Styles is a natural dancer. Indeed, those Midwestern-printed baggies are, unsurprisingly, by Bode.
Showboaty outfits aren't exactly new to celebrities. It's how they stand out, and how they've done so for decades. There's always an Aladdin Sane at every Halloween party. Lady Gaga will never shake the aroma of her sirloin beret. But with Styles, it never seems forced or contrived. Nor does it ever seem that silly. For meat dresses and face paint thunderbolts lie firmly within the realm of costume. Whereas this stuff – floaty, fluid, moderately noisy menswear – is slowly but surely making its way into real life wardrobes. The lotharibro, last summer's aristocratic upgrade on the luminous sleazeball, firmly endorsed a visible rippling chest under a barely-buttoned shirt. A flared two-piece in a solid shade of Colgate doesn't raise too many eyebrows on a red carpet either. In fact, we've seen it a couple of times before.
That's why this video will rocket to the front page of YouTube. Granted, being part of one of the most commercially successful boybands of all time will garner an ardent following. But there's a reason we're talking about this video in particular over all the other Top 40 fodder out there. That's why we talked about the last, and the one before that. Because it's a little bit different. As the appearance of a Fisher Price trawlerman's hat can attest (shipster in Capri?), Styles plays by his own rules – and there's certainly no running away from that.
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