For the first time in the magazine’s 108-year-long history, Vogue debuted its first ever solo male to be displayed on its cover this past November. The issue features singer-songwriter and fashion icon, Harry Styles.
Styles, 26, took his first step into the spotlight at age 16 when he auditioned to be on The X-Factor UK. He, along with four other boys, was put into a boy band called One Direction, which turned out to be a huge success. One Direction toured all over the world for roughly five years straight, releasing five studio albums and selling 70 million records worldwide. In 2015, the band decided to go on a ‘brief’ hiatus and went their separate ways, but Styles wasted no time at all. Since the split, Styles has made his solo debut as a musical artist and actor. In the past five years, he has released two studio albums, performed in front of nearly 800,000 people, starred in the film “Dunkirk” and has even begun shooting the psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling”, in which he plays a main role.
In an interview with Vogue, Styles opened up about his experience quarantining with friends, his thoughts about karma and the evolution of his fashion and music. Like many of us, Styles admitted to having a hard time being alone in the beginning of the quarantine. He decided shortly, only days after it began, that he would quarantine with a small pod of friends. He claims the experience has been a “really good lesson” in what makes him happy. Meditation has also played an important role in his learning to be more present, and he believes that it also “brings a stillness that has been really beneficial, I think, for my mental health.”
The interview briefly segues into one of the many impactful moments of the year, the Black Lives Matter movement, that pushed Styles towards thinking that it’s time “for opening up and learning and listening”. “I’ve been trying to read and educate myself so that in 20 years I’m still doing the right things and taking the right steps,” said the singer. “I believe in karma, and I think it’s just a time right now where we could use a little more kindness and empathy and patience with people, be a little more prepared to listen and grow.”
Musically, the artist believes his second album, Fine Line (2019), captures his growth and evolution as an artist. Fine Line, which sold 393,000 records in its debut week, was extremely “joyous” and freeing for the artist to write, and the experience seemed to open up quite a few doors for Styles who was still trying to figure out his sound. When discussing the sound of his debut, self-titled album, he compares it to sounding like he was “bowling with the bumpers up” which is certainly not the way he feels about his most recent music release. The style in both the fashion and music that Styles has taken to over the years has turned quite a few heads. Silky pink blouses and high waisted white trousers has become something of a uniform amongst Styles and his loyal followers, much like the single drop earring he wore to the 2019 Met Gala. Styles’ fashion has taken quite a turn for the dramatic, going from wearing jeans and t-shirts for the first five years of his career to now wearing sheer Gucci blouses and high-heeled boots.
Styles is pictured on the Vogue cover wearing a blue flowy dress with black lace trim designed by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele paired with a black tuxedo jacket. The look triggered a series of responses from millions around the world, both supportive and negative. Candace Owens, a conservative political activist, took to Twitter to tweet: “Bring back manly men” in response to Styles’ Vogue cover. Owens received a ton of backlash from Styles’ supporters and people within the fashion industry. Men’s fashion has been progressing as the invisible barriers surrounding ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ clothing have begun to be broken. Many are beginning to completely erase the genders attached to clothing. For example, women wearing suits and men wearing dresses or skirts. Styles, as a form of comeback to Owens, posted a photo of himself in a pastel blue suit and frilly shirt with the caption, “Bring back manly men.”
Harry Styles has remained one of the driving forces toward the evolution of men’s fashion while sporting pastel painted nails and frilled blouses. Fashion has no boundaries and there seems to be no pause in the steps being taken toward the normalization of gendered clothing erasure.