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That boy band member? One Direction's unofficial mascot Harry Styles, a star whose recent haircut sent the internet into a tailspin. But he's special for other reasons, too: Harry Styles generally avoids the nightclub scene. He pumps his own gas. His close friend Ed Sheeran once went on a personal crusade to express just how kind he is to any radio host who would listen. He's a star whose "nice Jewish boy" ethos isn't marred by the fact that he isn't even Jewish. Despite five years of being under the blinding media spotlight, he has managed to upset, anger, or offend precisely no one.
It only makes sense, then, that he'd have a look befitting of his status as the unicorn of young male pop stars. Unlike the most famous of his contemporaries, Justin Bieber and former bandmate Zayn
Malik, Harry prefers a style that's more "kooky" (to borrow a phrase from the Daily Mail) than trendy. As one of the co-founders of the watchdog Instagram account Harry Wore What recently told GQ, "Someone pointed out that he doesn't really wear things that other men typically wear."
One Direction at the 2015 American Music Awards. Harry wears a Gucci suit. Photo: Mike Windle/Getty Images
According to someone closer to the source, former One Direction stylist Julie Feingold, it's all true. "Harry already has an innate sense of style and a good eye for fashion," she tells Racked, describing it as "a bit indie with a British rocker vibe." Five years ago when she started working with the band, however, things were slightly different. "Harry was was still a teenager, so at the time he was sporting a much preppier look — there were lots of blazers and bow ties." (Who could forget?) For the past few years, however, he's been far more prone to wearing loud prints, flowing (though less so recently) hair, and romantic accessories — in short, the Gucci look.
But let's backtrack for a second. By no means does anyone actually think Alessandro Michele looked the One Direction frontman up and down and shouted, "Eureka!" And if Harry genuinely felt like his style had been stolen from him, he certainly wouldn't have worn so much Gucci over the past year and a half, to the point where the media openly pushed for a Gucci–Harry Styles partnership. Fashionista even ran a (sadly untrue) report that the pair were collaborating on a line of shirts for April Fools' Day.
While it's anyone's guess as to whether Harry will join Justin Bieber in fronting fashion campaigns, what's undeniable is this: Harry Styles was pushing the Gucci look even before Alessandro Michele put his stamp on it. Consider the following similarities:
L: Harry at a Glam Rock Christmas Party in December 2014. R: A look from Gucci's spring 2016 menswear runway. (Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images).
Pinstripes generally mean business, but when paired with a tighter fit and bold neck-cessory (in Harry's case a silver chain; in Gucci's, a pussy bow), they're quite the opposite. And speaking of elegant neckwear...
Photos: Top left, bottom right: Gucci's spring 2016 menswear presentation (Victor Virgile/Getty Images; Peter D'Aprano/Getty Images. Top right: Harry Styles wearing a Gucci flower bow tie at the 2015 American Music Awards (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images). Bottom left: Harry at a dinner in October 2014 (David M. Bennett/Getty Images).
One of the main tenets of the Gucci look is androgyny. Many of the items Michele has designed for the brand are meant to be worn by both men and women, according to W magazine, even the floral suiting (of which Harry is also a fan — see below). According to Feingold, Harry has always had a penchant for accessories, too. "There was always some sort of element unique to each of the boys that they personally were drawn to and used to distinguish themselves from one another. That was always very important," she says. "For Harry, he loves accessories — hats, scarfs, bandannas. He's really good at pulling anything off and making it look cool."
L: Harry in a Gucci suit at a party for Love Magazine during London Fashion Week in September 2015. R: The same suit on the Gucci fall 2015 menswear runway. L-R: David M. Bennet/Getty Images; Victor Vigile/Getty Images
Michele tends to save his trompe l'oeil accents for his womenswear collections; his menswear, however, features plenty of Magic Eye–esque graphic prints that are overwhelming from a distance but beautifully intricate up close. Harry wore a bold printed look from the brand's fall 2015 collection at a party at London Fashion Week last fall.
Silk bomber jackets
L: One Direction performs on "Good Morning America" in August 2015 (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images). R: A look from Gucci's spring 2016 womenswear collection (Catwalking/Getty Images).
Saint Laurent may be more synonymous with the ubiquitousness of the silk bomber over the past year, but Gucci's recently pushed the "high streetwear" trend as well. Harry's Saint Laurent bomber (which Kanye has also worn) is similar to those in Gucci's spring 2016 womenswear collection.
L: Harry Styles in a Saint Laurent shirt in February 2016 (Fame Flynet). R: A look from Gucci's spring 2016 menswear collection (Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Getty Images).
Hawaiian prints may be perennially tacky, but for high fashion brands, they can be just playful enough. Harry pairs his tropical-print shirts with black skinny jeans.
L: Harry in Gucci at the 2015 American Music Awards (C Flanigan/Getty Images). R: The same look from the Gucci spring 2016 menswear collection (Catwalking/Getty Images).
And speaking of retro prints, much of what both Harry is drawn to and Gucci creates shares an element of nostalgia. Consider the floral-to-the-point-of-couchlike suit that Harry wore at last November's American Music Awards, which came straight off the Gucci runway. Though critics weren't exactly kind — the Daily Mail wrote that it "called to mind Kim Kardashian's infamous 2013 Met floral gala dress" — the look was classic Harry. Despite the naysayers, one month later he wore another floral suit (this time an even louder orange one!) from the brand while performing with One Direction on The X Factor.
And Harry's love of lived-in style doesn't stop at prints. Feingold shares a story of one time when Harry's penchant for vintage almost gave her a fashion heart attack:
I remember specifically, one year at the Teen Choice Awards, we had just picked up a new pair of suede Dior Chelsea boots for Harry to wear on the red carpet. Moments before we hit the carpet Harry decided to personally age his boots by propping them underneath a sofa chair and then jumping on it so they'd look more distressed. I of course was having a fashion heart attack, but I totally understood why he was doing it.
As for the future, when Harry embarks on his solo career — in both music and movies — it's hard to say if he'll graduate from the Gucci look, stick with it, or perhaps front a campaign for the brand (yes! do that!). According to Feingold, however, we can rest easy knowing that he won't ditch his floral suits and scarves anytime soon. "I think Harry's style will continue to evolve and he'll continue to take risks," she says, "but I think it'll maintain the same overall aesthetic." Michele would be proud.