Timothee Chalamet: There’s A New Male Dresser In Town

From florals to harnesses, there’s a generation of non-generic pin-ups emerging, which we haven’t seen since the ’90s

Timothee Chalamet style

by Laura Jordan |

Once upon a time in Hollywood, not very long ago, the men of the A-list existed in a uniform that had precisely two settings. The first, for off-duty: an anonymous grey tee, inoffensive hoodie and meh denim, accessorised with sunglasses, a baseball cap and an electronic cigarette or cigarette-cigarette (dependent on where said actor was at on the rebel-o-meter at the time). It’s a look that’s almost arrogant in its laziness. A look that says, ‘I run this town; making an effort is for the little people.’

The second, for the red carpet, was the A-lister’s other natural habitat: a tux. In black (duh). With a bow tie. And a pearly white megawatt smile. That was it. Two looks, negligible in their variety. Roll credits. The end. Except now there is a new guard making waves in Tinseltown. They’re ushering in a new energy, not just to the screen but to best-dressed lists. The new It boys are feeling bold, bright, and big on experimentation, and nowhere can you see it more clearly than in their clothes.

No man encapsulates the shift in mood better than Timothée Chalamet, the 23-year-old actor who everyone, it seems, wants to be/be with/dress like/all of the above. This awards season, Timothée (on the circuit for his role as a tortured addict in Beautiful Boy) has shown himself not just to be a fearless performer, but an equally fearless dresser. At the Globes in January he nabbed column inches from Lady Gaga’s periwinkle Valentino gown by pitching up in an embellished Louis Vuitton harness (extra points for his date: his mother, Nicole Flender, in Off-White – it must be in the genes). At the SAG Awards he played the rebel in a polka-dot shirt and leather trousers from Celine by Hedi Slimane; at the London premiere of Beautiful Boy he was in a full-on romantic disposition, in an Alexander McQueen suit splashed in overblown, painterly florals. Back in London for the BAFTAs last week, he scooped best dressed of the night in a geometric Haider Ackermann jacket. Each look is a knockout – a compelling composite of sexy, sweet, subversive and sartorially experimental.

And Timothée’s not the only one at it. Award season frontrunner Rami Malek has been rocking a strong line of white suits. Donald Glover nails ’70s-inflected swag. (‘He can make fanciful suiting look incredibly masculine and covetable,’ says Damien Paul, head of menswear at Matchesfashion.com). Robert Pattinson has shaken off the generic teen-throb guise for something more directional (see his Dior menswear cape coat). Michael B Jordan’s also given that Louis Vuitton harness a spin (‘He’s a trailblazer on the style frontier,’ declares Luke Day, GQ fashion director). Ezra Miller plays the role of provocateur to perfection, brilliantly theatrical in a succession of weird and wonderful clothes that read more like performance art than fashion. In his zebra brothel creepers and flashy Prada shirts, Jeff Goldblum is this set’s spiritual leader.

All of them are vying for space on best-dressed lists, which by their very existence are a point of interest. How often did you hear people talking about their favourite men’s looks from the Globes/ BAFTAs/wherever before? Never. Because who cared? Who even noticed? This new visibility is propelling the audacious attitude. ‘There seems to be a lot more attention on what they are wearing, which in turn has allowed stylists and their clients to be more adventurous,’ says stylist Warren Alfie Baker, whose clients include actor Lucas Hedges and teen drama Riverdale stars KJ Apa and Casey Cott. ‘Reporting on what male celebrities wear has encouraged the new guard to step it up and get noticed,’ agrees David Thomas, stylist to John Legend and Henry Golding with over 30 years’ experience. ‘Celebrities, from actors to musicians and sports stars, are upping their game when it comes to being seen in the latest trends.’

Certainly, the It boy 2.0 feels like a breath of fresh air in mainstream pop culture and Hollywood in particular, where Johnny Depp’s boho-lite Jack Sparrow shtick (man jewellery, scarves, tattoos) was once considered the end word in edgy. These looks aren’t about bravado and posturing via bombastically loud ensembles and blatant bragging rights price tags. What they are proposing is something more radical: an exploration not just of clothes but of modern masculinity. They’re unafraid of taking on traditionally feminine codes (pastels, florals) or even toying with camp. It’s compelling to watch their confidence.

‘There’s a new generation of non-generic pin-ups emerging, which we haven’t seen since the ’90s,’ says Luke. ‘A bit like River Phoenix, less macho, maybe more gender fluid. I love anyone pushing the envelope.’ ‘Timothée’s the antithesis of that rugged Hollywood stereotype of men chasing down women who initially resist them,’ adds the writer Raven Smith. Indeed, it should come as no surprise that in an era when we’re questioning what it means to be a man, we’re questioning how it looks to dress like one. Men as a caricature of masculinity feels out of step: man eat, man drink, man wear only clothes from a tiny hetero normative box. How boring! Thank you, next! Instead, it’s out with the toxic and in with nuanced masculinity, which is much more complicated – and much cooler.

Just last week, Jonah Hill summed up the change in mood, when discussing his new film and the message he wants to give his own fans. ‘Traditional masculinity was not to show emotion, not to show sensitivity, not to show vulnerability, because it’s “feminine” or, God forbid, “gay” to do so,’ he said. ‘What that does, and what we’ve seen, is that it leads to a lot of horrible behaviour, and a lot of bad actions.’ His evolution from Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘pussy posse’ party partner into grown-up, thoughtful director (who, yes, has an excellent wardrobe: all in-the-know street labels, plus arty luxury, bound together in an eclectic mish-mash of prints and colours) is complete.

But does the message resonate with ‘real’ guys? Are they daring to reassess what it means to dress ‘like a man’? Or is this just another fad that won’t translate? ‘We know that guys are being more adventurous in their shopping and spending is up in menswear year on year. Velvets, jacquards, embroidery and prints are incredibly popular even on the high street now,’ says Luke Day, who credits social media with provoking a bolder spirit. ‘I think Instagram is a great platform for any creative endeavour, dressing up being one of them. It’s the new way to document our lives and I think that’s wonderful for a younger generation of fashionable dreamers’.

According to Damien Paul, men are becoming ‘less prescriptive and seem less scared of trends, bold colours and new shapes’. He says that Matchesfashion.com now experience the same reactions as womenswear with regards to a cult product or an ‘It’ item. ‘Men can now see how other men dress globally and I think this gives them the confidence to be more experimental.’

And how about the more outré elements? Might we see guyliner at All Bar One? Leather pants at summer weddings? ‘I think we’re a little way off from Love Island-ers in floral leather harnesses,’ says Smith. Mind you, with Lyst reporting that searches for them were up 84% in January, we may be closer than we think.

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