Harlem born and bred rapper A$AP Rocky doesn’t leave a lot of room for ambiguity. From his breakout moment–the 2011 release of his slow-rumbling, fast-talking hit ‘Peso’–he’s been clear about who he is and where he comes from. He’s a self-declared “pretty motherf*cker,” a one time drug dealer who signed with RCA’s Polo Music Group for a record-pushing $3 million after the release of his debut mixtape, a New York boy who’s quick to embrace Houston’s hazy flow and Memphis’ harsh crunk.
It’s hard to talk about Charlotte Gainsbourg without talking about her lineage, and with parents as provocative as Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, how could you not? Gainsbourg seems to have inherited a bit of both figures’ impressionable allure — her work, especially her roles in now three of Lars von Triers’ controversial pictures, her style (Gainsbourg was Nicolas Ghesquiere’s muse at Balenciaga for years), and her angular, near-androgynous beauty have attracted cultish devotion.
College does not always look good on everyone. The ever so present pressure to create something special, to transform oneself, and to be above average brilliant can often times shatter one’s dreams. However, Nicolas Jaar somehow managed to do all of the above with effortless style and genius poise while studying Comparative Literature at Brown University. He started his own record label and art house, remixed an array of intriguing electronic tracks, defied musical genres, and performed at major festivals all over the world before graduating. He’s now the catalyst for a new wave of slow beats, pushing for emotional resonance over speed and exploring the club scene on a conceptual level. Yes, the guy is an intellectual inside and out.
Just recently, idiosyncratic director Wes Anderson released his latest mini world, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The film tells the story of an aging writer’s youthful encounter with fabled hotelier — and more precisely, the story of the latter’s adventures with his young pupil, the orphaned lobby boy Zero. It’s a layered, ornate dream-meets-slapstick vision of the end of an era (the death of true — perhaps always fanaticized? — grace and hospitality) due to the rise of fascism. Anderson takes us down a winding, Faberge egg-styled path — seeping inspiration from the stories of Viennese author Stefan Zweig and drawing us into a mood that is at once as surreal and oddly, hyper-imaginatively stylistic as it is vulnerably, sincerely (and to it’s own delight, comically) melancholic. In other words, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is characteristically Anderson. The film is whimsical, grandiose, a quirky visual feast, and so is the intricately designed early 20th century Eastern European-influenced aesthetic of its protagonists’ apparel. Just take Adrien Brody’s character Dimitri’s dark, immaculately tailored, slim cut black suits, for example. His look is resolutely evil — the midnight black palette, the waxed mustache, the ZZ (i.e. SS) inscribed on his later costumes. You haven’t seen suits this sleek before, an aura so dour. It’s all built to fit Dimitri’s dark mastermind persona, and so chicly so.
“In my dream world, again, Jessa doesn’t really shop,” GIRLS costume designer Jenn Rogien explained early in the show’s run. “She collects things in her travels — from flea markets, street fairs, foreign vintage stores, the whole world.” The woman behind the styles of the girls of GIRLS is of course talking about the aesthetic of the dramedy’s patent bohemian-cum-jaded provocateur, Jessa Johansson. Since the show’s introduction in 2012, it was quickly clear that Jessa embodied a certain free-spirited, Janis Joplin-era Chelsea Hotel-meets-modern day transient niche — she was worldly, she was experienced, she was as self-indulgent as any other of Lena Dunham’s oh-so-contemporary creations, and she was — and even post-failed marriage, post- (failed) rehab, and frequently unlikeable state, arguably still is — the coolest one around.
There is a good chance you’ve been humming Pharrell’s Happy since his recent Oscar performance, or that you’ve been listening to his new album G I R L since it came out last week. Maybe you’re still stuck with Get Lucky, Blurred Lines, or one of his other inescapable hits. Pharrell Williams is one of those people we’ve been watching in awe for the last ten years, if you can believe. Have you been wondering why he doesn’t seem to age? Are you intrigued by his unwavering influence in music and fashion? So is everyone else. Pharrell is just an extremely well rounded person, with a clear vision of what he wants and an incredibly unique ability to get it.
Pharrell’s been pushing music and fashion boundaries since 2003, breaking stereotypes left and right, but now more than ever seems to be his time. He produced two of the biggest songs of 2013, got nominated for an Oscar, took a Grammy home, and got hitched. His clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream turned 10. To those tuned in over the years, Pharrell’s evolving style is reflective of his multi layered personality and talents. Every time he steps out in public he opens a box of surprises, unleashing elements of playfulness in skate culture, hip-hop bling, and high fashion – he looks especially spectacular wearing Lanvin. Pharrell’s style is so self-specific, and that in itself offers encouragement to others just to wear what they feel like.
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It’s hard to believe it’s only been a few short years since Alexander Wang launched his eponymous label. He started out making unisex intarsia cashmere sweaters when he dropped out of Parsons in 2004 at just age twenty, selling them door-to-door to buyers until they caught enough attention for the retailers to come to him. The first full collection (styled by high school pal Vanessa Traina) came three years later — slouched-just-so black tees, biker-inspired cropped leather pants, carefree cashmere cardigans — more after-hours than after-school. Just a year later, the California-native took home the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award at age 24. There’s something so undeniably, so darkly effortless about Wang’s designs — it wasn’t long after he sent those inaugural tees down the runway that he started to dictate, not just embody, what it meant to be downtown, and for good reason.
Considering the storm of sartorial praise and resounding industry approval, you’d think that 12 Years a Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o had had a moment to play with her fashion choices, screwing up a few times before getting is so, so right. But the Yale drama school grad hasn’t been walking red carpets for more than a few months – still she’s hitting it so impressively and so squarely on the head that her status as stylish iconography is all but cemented.
Those who have seen Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island know that although Scorsese tried his best hand at a Hitchcock by way of Lynchian psychological thrill, it was the performance from Leonardo DiCaprio that moved audiences to tears. It could have been an affinity for the dramatic, but he was just so good we couldn’t help but indulge in our emphatic emotions. It’s always that way with Leo—no matter the film—from his boyhood roles in features like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Basketball Diaries to his most recent maniacal turns in Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street—in his twenty some odd years gracing our screens, he has never delivered a less than brilliant performance.
Whether he’s playing a mentally-handicapped teenager coping with the strains of his family, an infamous conman making his way around the world, a family man wrestling with the trials of love, or a psychopathic slave-owner, Leo always sinks his teeth fully into every role—giving a performance that’s brimming with conviction, intensity, charm, and agility, always with that signature essence of Leo that lingers no matter within which character he disappears. And it’s that rare amalgamation of charm and talent that’s made him not only one of Hollywood’s most beloved leading men but also a cultural icon with unwavering force. The transition from childhood actor to teen heartthrob to respected adult actor isn’t always an easy feat—many have let their flame burn out too soon and never fulfilled on the promise of their talent, but Leo has done nothing but prove time and time again that he’s more than deserving of that Oscar we’ve yet to see him take home.