Harry Styles has become the first solo male cover star of Vogue in the magazine’s 128-year history. For the December 2020 issue, the British pop star talks about his gender-bending fashion, showing it off by wearing a Gucci dress on his cover.
Tyler Mitchell, who famously shot Beyoncé for the September 2018 cover of Vogue and became the magazine’s first African American photographer to shoot a cover, captured Styles. Although the former One Direction member confessed his lockdown look consisted of sweatpants, he says his childhood desire to dress up in fancy clothes hasn’t been dormant.
His sister Gemma Styles, a writer and eyewear designer who was at his Vogue fitting, recalls their mother dressing up the two, but only Harry enjoying it and playing along. “She did some really elaborate papier-mâché outfits: She made a giant mug and then painted an atlas on it, and that was Harry being ‘The World Cup,’” she says in the cover story. “Harry also had a little dalmatian-dog outfit, a hand-me-down from our closest family friends. He would just spend an inordinate amount of time wearing that outfit. But then Mum dressed me up as Cruella de Vil. She was always looking for any opportunity!”
But the 26-year-old hitmaker found inspiration early on from his musical heroes — Prince, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury and Elton John — whom he describes as “showmen.” “As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I’ll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don’t feel crazy wearing it,” Styles says. “I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it’s like a superhero outfit. Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with.”
And during quarantine, the Harries have been experimenting and playing with their idol’s own fashion, hand-stitching replicas of the Rubik’s Cube-resembling JW Anderson cardigan he wore with a pearl necklace during rehearsal on the TODAY Show and showing them off on TikTok. Now, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has requested Styles’ original sweater to exemplify the creativity during the COVID era.
“What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play,” Styles continues. “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything — anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means — it just becomes this extended part of creating something.”
Watch Styles perform an acoustic rendition of the Fine Line highlight “Cherry” while on set of his historic Vogue cover shoot below.