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The humble eight-holed work boot has won over everyone from postal workers to punks, teens to todays celebrities and influencers. How did it stride to world dominance?

Tony Benn wore them. So did Agyness Deyn. Suggs loved them, also Kathleen Hanna and Joe Strummer. And Jordan Catalano. Hailey Baldwin, Rihanna and Bella Hadid still do. Once you start looking, Dr Martens are everywhere. Sixty years after launching the eight-hole 1460 boot on, as the name suggests, the 1 April 1960 it is an undisputed classic, one of those rare-as-hens-teeth designs that is as likely to be spotted in a museum as it is (until recently, of course) on the streets outside. It is up there with Levis 501s, the Fred Perry polo shirt, the Converse All Star and the Harrington jacket.

And, like these other items, the 1460 is enjoying a fashion moment beyond its classic status. Perhaps because the past decade has been so turbulent even before we had a global pandemic to contend with fashion has returned to the dependable. The Hadids, Baldwin and Kaia Gerber are all endorsing Dr Martens. In other words, as Vogue declared in October, they have become model off-duty staple. While the vegan range and patterned designs have been credited with a 70% rise in profit for the brand in 2019, the 1460 remains the bestseller and it is this history that is likely to have attracted rumours in March of a potential 300m sale to a US private equity firm.

Dr Martens, and the 1460, began with a collaboration. If most modern alliances are between two brands (JW Anderson x Uniqlo, Adidas and Raf Simons), this one was a bit less hypebeast-friendly. A small shoe factory in Northamptonshire partnered with two doctors in Munich. Dr Klaus Mrtens had developed an air-cushioned chunky sole in 1947, after a foot operation following a skiing accident in 1945, and had begun making it with his friend Dr Herbert Funk to sell these comfortable shoes to older women. In Britain, the shoemaking Griggs family saw an ad for Martens soles in 1959. After acquiring the licence, Bill Griggs designed the 1460, the eight-hole boot with the now familiar yellow stitching and chunky Mrtens sole, although when marketing the design for postwar Britain, the umlaut in Martens name was removed at launch.

The Griggs familys Cobbs Lane factory in Northamptonshire, 1930s. Photograph: Courtesy of Dr Martens

Initially, the 1460s took the lead from Mrtens designs, which were worn by those who prioritised comfort and durability. Marketed as a work boot and sold for about 2 (roughly 38 in todays money), postmen, factory workers and policemen wore them, and they became part of the uniform for London Underground workers. However, as with army jackets, jeans, even trench coats, the Dr Martens boot secured its place as a staple in our wardrobes after becoming a uniform for a series of subcultures. Its almost easier to list which subcultures havent adopted Dr Martens over the past six decades, says Andrew Groves, a professor of fashion design at the University of Westminster and the curator of Invisible Men, last years exhibition about mens working wardrobes. The list of those style tribes that took the DM to their hearts includes punks, skinheads, northern soulers, scooterists, as well as (later on) teenagers into grunge, two-tone, and Britpop.

As a symbol of working-class culture, it was the original skinheads before the term equated to the far right who first picked up on the 1460s. When the Whos Pete Townshend wore them on stage in 1967, he put them on the radar of the bands growing fanbase in the proto-skinhead scene. In his classic book Subculture: The Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige sees the take-up of Dr Martens as the rejection of the explicitly aesthetics-based mod culture of the early 60s. Instead, this look was aggressively proletarian, puritanical and chauvinist.

(L-r) Dr Martens Vegan 1460 boot; the chunky-soled Jadon; and Bapes camo-print boot. Composite: Guardian Design Team

Groves also points out the inherent rebellion of wearing something practical for its aesthetic value even if that value is about fetishising working-class culture rather than just wanting to look sharp. At their heart, all youth subcultures love nothing better than annoying their parents, he says. What better way to do that than adopting the boots your dad wears for his respectable job and subverting them into the latest youth craze?

During the 70s and early 80s, the 1460s became part of a uniform worn with skinny bleached jeans, braces and, quite often, a bit of a snarl. Images of skinheads either in Gavin Watsons classic photography book Skins, or Shane Meadows This Is England trilogy often feature DMs, and they continued to be associated with the subculture, even as, as Meadows documented, it became darker, as the far right infiltrated it.

Although this association is still there, its now a whisper thanks to Groves litany of other, less controversial, subcultures that also took up the DM. By the time i-D magazines A Decade of i-Deas was published at the end of the 80s, the style magazine had declared them the fashion accessory of the past five years. I remember blisters covering the back of my heels for weeks when I got my first pair in the 90s. Groves says he wore them when I was a mod, a skinhead and a casual Ive worn them polished up with Sta-Prest trousers and scuffed-up with jeans. Ive probably got at least three or four pairs at the moment.

Skinheads in Docs in This Is England, 2007. Photograph: Collection Christophel/Alamy Stock Photo

The breaking-in that the 1460 requires has now been a rite of passage for young people for more than 50 years. The current generation who would have seen them worn by Kings Road punks, kids in archive rave footage, Damon Albarn in the 90s, as part of queer culture from the 80s onwards, and emo in the 00s have a whole archive of #inspo to explore. Theres a democracy and an everyboot quality to them that appeals the Hadids might have a very different life from a 90s schoolgirl, but they, too, would have had to go through the blisters stage. Sophie Rhind, the senior footwear buyer at Asos, argues the democracy of the style is its strength. The diversity of celebrities and influencers who are wearing DMs further hammers home the point that the brand can be worn by everyone and can be styled any which way possible, she says. On the site, its the Jadon a version of the 1460 with an uber-chunky sole that is the most popular, with 20,000 pairs sold last year. Dr Martens is also producing a remastered series of 1460 collaborations this year the Japanese brand A Bathing Ape and Raf Simons have featured so far.

While tweaks to the boot are OK (camo print from Bape, ring decoration from Simons, the Jadon chunky sole), the recognisable design has to remain. In times of crisis such as we are experiencing now, perhaps putting on a boot that is tough, familiar, classic and (eventually) comfortable is what we need. While we wont be venturing far, they are the choice for your daily walk: Bella Hadid was photographed in Los Angeles this week on the way back from Target, wearing her DMs. The Dr Marten is such an archetypal object that they can be worn in both an understated manner or used to underplay a full-on fashion look, says Groves. Its hard to imagine anything else being worn by your postie and Gigi Hadid, and both looking equally good in it.

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The singer on pouting like Lauren Bacall, DIY hairdos, gardening in nightwear and discovering the joys of colour

This was taken in 1981 or 1982, right at the beginning of my career. All my clothes at that time were secondhand a hangover from being at art college. The top that I wore in the Kids in America video was from Oxfam, and so was this. These are the same boots that I wore in that video, too.

I was a big fan of Lauren Bacall I really loved that she didnt smile for the camera. When I first started having my photograph taken, lots of male photographers would say: Come on Kim, give us a smile! and it used to drive me insane. So I would just think about Bacall and pout furiously, as I am doing in this photograph. I looked thoroughly miserable most of the time, whereas I was having the time of my life.

I was a bit of a tomboy as a teenager, so my style was an extension of that. The hair was my own doing, all out of a [Clairol] Born Blonde packet, and I cut it myself. I wasnt overly interested in fashion, it didnt flick a big switch for me, but I was always in control of what I wore. Sometimes I got it fantastically right, but there were times when I got it horribly wrong.

Aside from music, I also love gardening. If I get up on a sunny morning, I have to stop myself going out in the garden, because I know I will still be there two hours later with my nightie on and a pair of gardening gloves. I also wear clogs, which makes it sound like quite a romantic image!

I have always enjoyed mixing fabrics such as satin and silk and leather, but mostly in black. I wore a lot of black jeans, oversized mens jackets and stripy tops. I am sartorially lazy; I like anything that is easy to get in and out of. As I have got older, I have found an injection of colour goes a long way to brightening up my day. On my Here Come the Aliens tour in 2018 [inspired by Wildes apparent encounter with a UFO in 2009], I thoroughly embraced extraterrestrial fashion. I looked like something out of Barbarella, like I was about to lift off and go exploring.

The UK leg of Kim Wildes Greatest Hits tour begins in September

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From Cheer to Christopher John Rogers, the term has come to define survival in the face of white privilege

In the first episode of Pose the hit drama about the 80s ballroom drag scene that gave birth to vogueing a group from the House of Abundance break into a museum exhibition of Elizabethan-era clothes. They strip the mannequins, stuff the corsets and ruffs into shiny black bin bags, then escape through a smashed window to the ball competition. The category is Bring it like Royalty, says the MC, Billy Porter as the gang walk and pose in their Renaissance era garments. They win the competition, but their victory is about not only looking great whatever the cost, but also about breaking with convention, law and history.

In Cheer, Netflixs docudrama about a competitive cheerleading squad, the breakout stars are Jerry Harris and LaDarius Marshall. Unapologetically exuberant, the black, gay teenagers in Republican-supporting, gun-toting Navarro, Texas, should stick out like sore, if deeply fabulous, thumbs. Yet Cheer becomes a story of how they survived grief (the premature death of Jerrys mum and LaDariuss suicide attempt) and accepted themselves. In both shows, as black and Latino members of the LGBTQI community, these characters are outside mainstream society and so have created their own. In this world being fabulous is not just the defining quality, but acts as a challenge to the status quo and (white, entitled, birthright) privilege.

LaDarius Marshall and Jerry Harris from Cheer. Composite: Jim Spellman/Getty Images

The concept of fabulousness is said to have begun in the drag subculture and with Crystal LaBeija, who is seen as the founder of ballrooms house culture (alternative families for members of the LGBTQI community who have been kicked out of their homes). Pepper LaBeija, from Crystals house, was featured in Jennie Livingstons 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning which brought ballroom culture to a wider audience.

It was in this filmthat many first heard the words that make up the lexicon of fabulousness. Words such as work!, fierce, gagging, yaaaaas, slay and phrases such as giving me life and serving a look. Although TV shows such as Absolutely Fabulous, Sex and the City and Americas Next Top Model brought these phrases and concepts into peoples homes, it was RuPauls Drag Race (now in its 12th season) that truly bought the concept of fabulousness into the mainstream.

Jack Doroshow and Crystal LaBeija in The Queen. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Jinkx Monsoon, who won the fifth season of Drag Race, says both drag and fabulousness are about creatingyour own destiny. Were born into this world, and told from day one who were supposed to be, she says. Were told at a very early age that were expected to behave, dress, and think certain ways all because of what is between our legs. Drag is casting all of that off, and deciding for yourself who you want to be.

But the concept of fabulousness is also, says Madison Moore, the author of Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric, a lifeline for people who belong to more than one disempowered or persecuted social group and therefore face intersecting prejudices. Fabulousness is about the risk of stretching out and expanding when you have been told you dont deserve to exist.

In his book, Moore sets out four traits that define fabulousness: firstly, it does not take a lot of money; secondly it requires a high level of creativity; thirdly it is dangerous, political, confrontational, risky and largely (but not exclusively) practised by queer or transgenderpeople of colour and other marginalised groups. Finally it is about making a spectacle of yourself because your body is constantly suppressed and undervalued.

Because of this, fabulousness is not to be confused with being camp because it is inherently political. Susan Sontag in her influential 1964 essay Notes on Camp (the inspiration for the theme of the 2019 Met Gala), defined camp as an aesthetic sensibility devoid of any deeper meaning.

But Moore points out that for marginalised people, theres no such thing as style for styles sake. Fabulous people are taking the risk of embracing spectacle when it may perhaps be easier, though no less toxic, to normalise. This is very different from how camp is typically discussed.

Dominique Jackson in the pilot episode of Pose. Photograph: FX Productions/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

In 2020, the concept of fabulousness is everywhere: in Lil Nas Xs mashing up of neon disco colours with cowboy style or each time Poses Billy Porter wears a traditionally non-masculine outfit on the red carpet. Both style statements challenge the white, cis-gendered status quo.

Yet, while mainstream culture has absorbed elements of black culture, such as the adoption of the fabulous lexicon into everyday conversation (yassss kween) the outsider status has not disappeared. Being a black body, a black queer body, a black trans body, a gender nonconforming black body in public space is always vulnerable, says Moore. You cant go shopping while black. You cant go swimming while black. You cant enter your dorm room while black. You cant exist in your own home while black. You cant drive in your car with a white girl while black. You cant buy designer clothes while black. You cant wear a hoodie while black. The list continues.

During New York fashion week, the collection from the Anna Wintour-anointed African American designer Christopher John Rogers displayed a level of extreme fabulousness. His show featured largely non-white models sporting outfits in shocking shiny disco colours (fuchsia, emerald green and orange) and cut to massive proportions in geometric shapes that looked straight out of the Teletubbies. As Robin Givhan said, the shows aesthetic appeared as if it were stylistically influenced by: [the Diana Ross film]Mahogany, Ebony Fashion Fair (which ran from 1958 to 2009), drag balls and Instagram selfie filters.

Fabulous backstage at the AW20 Christopher John Rogers show. Photograph: Sophie Sahara/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

The models stopped dramatically at the end of the runway pausing for the endless clicks of photographers. They strutted in a knowing parody of fashion cliches. Our shows are filled with a ton of emotion and energy so we encourage the models to feel themselves and the fantasy when they get on the runway, Rogers tells me after the show. Its really about their personal attitudes and moods coming through.

For the designer, his shows are an expression of encouraging people to take up space and be the most themselves. Does he think it is important to express fabulousness in the current climate of political divisiveness? Absolutely, he says Theres so much vitriol and pessimism in the air towards individuals who dont fit certain moulds, so its nice to combat that with true expressions of self, in whatever form that takes. The most effective, in some instances, is radical, boisterous personal style.

Pat Boguslawski, the movement coach who choreographed the model Leon Dames strutting, angular walk, which went viral at the SS20 Maison Margiela show, says he was inspired to bring individuality back to the runway. A fashion show is not just about mannequins and watching the clothes, its about creating a show. So we hire dancers, have amazing lighting and great music. I think a fashion show should be a show. For him, Dames walk was an expression of his individuality. As a movement director Im creating something based on (a persons) character, on who they are.

Being who they are is a key narrative element of Pose. Angelica Ross, who played the spiky Candy, says the show is important on multiple levels. To quote (Pose producer and trans activist) Janet Mock: We have to say these things cause no one else will. Pose told a story that no one else wanted to tell as evident by the many nos that (creator) Steven Canals received when initially pitching the project. Its not only important that Pose told our stories, but told them right by including folks from the (LGBTQI) community at all levels of production.

Fabulousness is a much needed state of mind in the current climate. As Ross says: Being fabulous means feeling free to be yourself. Its not fabulous if its fake.

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There is a sartorial magic to the kind of streamlined wardrobe made famous by Audrey Hepburn and Sade. Heres how to master it

The capsule wardrobe has always been cool. The capsule wardrobe is Franoise Hardy and Sade. It is Audrey Hepburn and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. It is all the heady intoxication of fashion with no hangover of buyers remorse. It is a magic pill to streamline your wardrobe, so no more tying yourself in knots figuring out what to wear.

OK, so heres the thing: as we all agree a capsule wardrobe is such a great idea, why dont we actually dress like this? Ive never nailed it and I know a lot of very fabulous, cool, clever women and most of them havent either. But 2020 might just be the year that is going to change. Because capsule dressing is no longer the sensible option, the one you know you should commit to, if only you didnt keep getting your head turned by newer, more daring, more exciting, more instantly desirable clothes. In 2020, capsule dressing is where the newest, most daring, most exciting, most instantly desirable fashion is happening.



Sustainability is aspirational. Zoolanderish, yes, but also true. If sustainability means that we as a species get to continue living on this planet, then that seems to me to pretty much sum up our wishlist right now. A fabulous capsule wardrobe is the sustainable way which is to say the modern way to raise your fashion game. You can tell that sustainability has become glamorous because outfit repeating which used to be something that normal people did all the time but fancy people wouldnt be seen dead doing, sort of like getting the bus has now become a badge of honour. Meghan Markle rewears dresses, Joaquin Phoenix sticks with one Stella McCartney tux through red carpet season.


The tagline of Wardrobe NYC, the front rows current favourite label, is luxury without excess. Founded by designer Josh Goot and fashion director Christine Centenera, Wardrobe NYC is the ultimate wardrobe for those with shared values and aesthetic, which translates as pared-down urban minimalism designed in New York and made in Italy. The aesthetic is radically minimalist, but the price tag is seriously upscale, with 1,500 buying you a four-piece wardrobe, delivered as a set of blazer, shirt, T-shirt and leggings just choose from black or white, and click your size. (Its like a HelloFresh box, but with everything you need to look cool rather than to make dinner.) A four-piece, pared-back, day-to-night wardrobe commanding a price point usually ruled by the fancy party dress speaks volumes about the status of the capsule wardrobe right now.

What should your capsule wardrobe look like? Does a blazer and leggings work for you, or is it two black dresses and a camel coat? Or a grey trouser suit and two white shirts? The answer is in your wardrobe, says designer Maria Grachvogel. Now 50, Grachvogel has run her own brand since she was 21. Open your wardrobe, take a look and be honest, she says. There is probably a core 20% of whats in there that you return to time and time again. Whatever that 20% is printed dresses, plain tailoring thats your capsule wardrobe, right there. Those are your treasures. Its about what suits you but its also about who you are as a person and what kind of life you live. Before you buy anything new, Grachvogel says, ask yourself: is this going in my 20%? Is it going to be one of my treasures? Because thats the only part of your wardrobe that matters. She attributes her loyal customer base to the fact that I have zero interest in selling women clothes that they wont wear.



Were all so busy, no one has the time or the energy to spend hours standing in front of their wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear, says Clare Hornby, founder and creative director of British affordable luxury brand Me+Em. A capsule wardrobe means one you can rely on to make you look and feel good with minimal effort. Hornby is a self-confessed trouser obsessive, as proven by Me+Ems transformer trousers (in wide or narrow styles, around 170), which can be extended from cropped to longer length with a button fastening endless research went into fabric and construction which could hold a chic silhouette in both modes. Think about whats practical for you, she says. If you work, then you need clothes that are smart enough for the office, comfortable enough for a long day, easily dressed up for after work.

Grill successful modern capsule dressers, as I did for this article, and the blazer is a wardrobe building block that comes up time and again. I wear one most days, Hornby says. At weekends I can wear joggers and a T-shirt, and a blazer pulls it together. A cross-body bag try Coach or Kate Spade, or John Lewis & Partners is another piece that has become a seven-day staple. While no two capsule dressers are the same, a common thread is a balance of masculine and feminine elements. A blazer is paired with a dress, say, or sleek tailored trousers with a ruffle-trimmed silk blouse. A yin/yang of masculine and feminine adds interest without fuss, and allows you to tip the balance in either direction to suit your mood.


Capsule wardrobes require team players. They work when your clothes can jigsaw together to solve your problems. Fancy, limelight-hogging showpieces are a distraction best avoided. Jazziness is good, but keep it subtle. Subtle jazziness is quite French, and Parisian brand Szane does a brilliant line in light merino sweaters with detachable collar detail, so that you can add interest without fuss or bulk and, crucially, help you keep the colours crisp by not washing light and dark together. (Current styles include the Olga, a smart short-sleeve top with a detachable broderie anglaise frill at the neck, 77.) Cos make detachable hoods with dicky-style bib fronts which can be layered under a smart coat when rain is forecast, instantly streamlining your coatrack.

Last year, Debenhams launched Kley, which aims to bring the ultimate easy enviable wardrobe to the high street. The range is quartered under the acronym Life: Luxury is for leather skirts and silk blouses; Important is for fashion-informed seasonal pieces; Function covers waterproofed and hybrid pieces; Essential provides foundational tailoring and knits. Its designed by women, for women, says creative director Lucia Heffernan. Versatility is key. We have less time nowadays, but women still want to look and feel great in whatever they are wearing.

With sustainability non-negotiable, we who love fashion are finding ways to tease our passion apart from overconsumption. As the world heats, capsule dressing looks cooler than ever. A streamlined wardrobe frees a little more of your time, your sanity and the worlds resources. A capsule wardrobe isnt just quicker, Hornby says. Its better.

A blazer, a trench, a cashmere knit, a pair of good quality trousers, the ultimate silk shirt, plus a jazzy skirt how six items make a seven-day wardrobe


Trench, 290, by Reformation from Net-a-Porter


Trousers, 129, from Whistles


White Signature Shirt, 230 Equipment at Net-a-Porter


Tiger-print crepe midi skirt, 150, from Ganni at Net-a-Porter


Blazer, 150, from Next


Charcoal jumper, 78, from Everlane

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The sprawling influence of the pop art titan subject of a new Tate retrospective extends to everything from the Muppets to Donald Trump

Muses and collaborators

Hulk Hogan
In 1985, Warhol a huge wrestling fan inadvertently wandered backstage after a match between Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. Its the best thing Ive ever seen in my whole life. The most exciting thing! he said. Cyndi Lauper and Mr T were also in attendance.

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. Photograph: John Springer Collection/Corbis/Getty Images

Edie Sedgwick
Moved to New York at 21 after receiving her trust fund. Warhol cast her in several films and made her a star but drug use, arrests, anorexia and stays in psychiatric hospitals ensued. Sedgwick died in her sleep at 28 following a probable drug overdose.

The Rolling Stones
Warhol designed the cover of 1971s Sticky Fingers, with its fruity closeup of a bulging crotch. Early versions featured an actual zip, a design innovation that failed to catch on, since jagged metal accessories have an unfortunate tendency to damage vinyl.

Robert Mapplethorpe
In the 80s, he and Warhol took a series of portraits of each other.


Having witnessed one of his earliest NY shows in 1980, Warhol created Orange Prince (1984), a series of 12 coloured portraits of the pint-sized polymath.


The Velvet Underground
Warhol managed, produced and art-directed the band before Lou Reed fired him, feeling his management techniques were responsible for their poor record sales.
Id never seen Andy angry, but I did that day, recounted Reed.


Salvador Dal
In 1964, Dal summoned Warhol to meet him at a hotel. Opera played at deafening volume, while Warhol put on an Inca headdress and nervously guzzled wine. After five uncomfortable minutes, a spooked Warhol decided to flee.

David Bowie. Photograph: Peter Mazel/Sunshine/Rex/Shutterstock

David Bowie
Met at the Factory in 1971, when Bowie performed a mime for a nonplussed Warhol. Bowie gave him a copy of Hunky Dory, which included Bowies tribute to the artist. Warhol didnt say anything but absolutely hated it, said Bowies then tour manager Tony Zanetta. Bowie would later play Warhol in the 1996 biopic Basquiat.


Jean-Michel Basquiat
Had something of a mentor-mentee relationship at first. Andy loved Jean-Michel like a son almost, said Interview editor Glenn OBrien. The two artists fell out after their joint 1985 show Paintings flopped, and remained unreconciled at the time of Warhols death in February 1987. Basquiat died the following August.

Fellow partygoers

Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Andy Warhol at a New Years Eve party at Studio 54. Photograph: Robin Platzer/Life/Getty Images

Studio 54 regulars
Warhol was photographed at Studio 54 with a number of celebrities, including Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, Truman Capote, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson and Robin Williams. Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford once handcuffed himself to Warhol after one of their shows in 1979, before the pair went off to the club together.

Successors (self-proclaimed)

Kanye West
Declared in 2013: I am Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. That same year, his now wife Kim Kardashian was painted in the style of one of Warhols Marilyns by Monica Warhol, who claims to be a distant relative.

Im a work of art / Im a Warhol already (Already Home, 2009). Also signed off blog posts as Andy WarHOV and used Warhols Rorschach (1984) as the cover of his 2010 book Decoded.

Banksys Kate Moss artwork. Photograph: Banksy/Southeby’s/PA

Tyler, the Creator
The cover of his Goblin album references Warhols poster for his 1971 film Pork. His Earfquake video is shot through with AW references, from the platinum bowlcut wig to the Factory-style silver-draped walls.

His 2007 Banksy v Warhol exhibition recreated Warhols Marilyn Monroe screen prints, but with Kate Moss.

Fashion followers

The fashion houses 1991 collection sent supermodel Naomi Campbell down the runway in a dress printed with Warhols Marilyn image

Virgil Abloh
The Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director cites Warhol as a key influence. Brands, he says, signify things stored in the deepest parts of our brains as to what anything is. A cross on a Catholic church, or the red and white of a Coca-Cola can; how else would you know how to find your way?

Calvin Klein
Signed a licensing deal with the Warhol Foundation in 2017. Then CCO Raf Simons expressed a particular interest in Warhols grisly Death and Disaster collection, a series of screenprints of car crashes, electric chairs and suicides.

Business partners?


Donald Trump
In 1975, Warhol wrote: Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art, a phrase DJT has referenced multiple times. In April 1981, Trump proposed a formal partnership, with the artist creating paintings of Trump Tower. The deal turned sour when Trump declined to buy the diamond-dust covered paintings, irked that they werent colour-coordinated. Warhol never forgave him, still bitching about him in diary entries from three years later, writing: I think Trumps sort of cheap.

Unexpected admirers


Following Warhols soup can prints, in 1966 Campbells returned the compliment and produced the Souper Dress a promotional offer where $1 and two coupons secured you a paper dress printed with Warhols artwork. One now resides in the Met Museum.


The Muppets
Warhol references crop up throughout the Henson universe: Oscar the Grouch and Telly both created soup-can artworks; Kermit appeared as Warhol for a fashion shoot in Zink magazine; the 2019 Sesame Street Road Trip tour saw Big Bird posing at the Warhol Museum.

Jeremy Deller
As a 20-year-old unknown, conceptual artist Deller spent two weeks at the Factory observing Warhol, having talked his way into his hotel room during a visit to London. (Deller found Warhol and entourage watching Benny Hill on mute while playing Roxy Music.)

Unintended consequences

The selfie
Warhol repeatedly returned to himself as subject matter. His first self-portrait, in 1963, saw him turning a simple photo booth image into a blue silkscreen print, a neat reminder that millennials didnt invent solipsism.

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The pop star explains the evolution of her style, her no-airbrushing policy and the ensemble she wore to New York fashion week last year

Ive never loved my body more than I did in this outfit I looked banging. Its by Christian Siriano and I wore it to his show in New York last year the first fashion show Id been to. I loved that there were all different kinds of women and men on the catwalk, so many shapes and sizes. Id also never worn pants with a cape before, so I felt like a superhero. And I didnt have to wear a bra win win win win win.

This look is way more me than the outfits I wore in the All About That Bass video. I said at the time that I mostly wear black, but they said: Cool, were going to do pastels. I had no management then, so I was like: OK, but its just like a costume, right? It wasnt super-clear, so that was a little frustrating. This look is an example of how I now have a say and know who I am.

I was 19 when I signed a record deal and I had no idea how to dress myself. I was all Forever 21 my audition look was a backwards hat and hoops, leopard-print leggings, a lot of black eyeliner and no makeup on my eyebrows. So Ive learned a lot.

My style is comfortable, but I also love when outfits show off my curves. I want to look and feel hot. For a long time, I wore baggy clothes and leggings; I felt insecure and I didnt know how to dress my body. Im still learning what looks awesome on me its a dangerous game of expensive clothes. I love the Kardashians and what they wear. Im also really into Stella McCartney I went to her London store and it felt like the future.

Nowadays, magazines wont airbrush me they dont even hide when Im wearing shapewear. I think my songs said something really loud about that. I dont know how to squeeze my body using [the photo-editing app] FaceTune I had someone on my team that would try and do that for me and I would say: I look crazy, please go back. My body is my body on my gram its not squished or anything.

Meghan Trainors album Treat Myself and the single Nice To Meet Ya are out now

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From Lil Nas X to Billy Porter on the Grammys red carpet, Yee Haw fashion is everywhere. It is helping to finally put black cowboys, long erased from history, on the agenda Read more from the spring/summer 2020 edition of The Fashion, our biannual style supplement

I have been archiving the black cowboy experience online for about a year. Ive lived in Texas for most of my life and have always been interested in the aesthetic.

I think the ubiquity of the white American cowboy myth reflects a lot of deep-rooted ideas about heteronormativity and whiteness in the US. It also speaks to the historical erasure of the black cowboy most people dont know that one in four cowboys were actually black.

I called the movement, and my Instagram account, which began in March 2019, the Yee Haw Agenda as a play on the gay agenda. A lot of straight people have issues with gay people or gay content being so popular and feeling as if its being forced on to children, which Ive always thought was ridiculous. This has never made sense to me because the LGBTQI community has contributed so much to culture in general, stuff that they havent been credited for. Its similar to the way black cowboys have not been historically credited. There are people who actually hate the term Yee Haw Agenda, but its funny to me because it was never meant to be as serious as it has become.

Mary J Blige in 2000. Photograph: Steve Azzara/Corbis via Getty Images

Black erasure is something thats happened since the beginning of time. Its still happening today, because the chairmen, the CEOs, the company heads, the people behind the scenes and the people who are in positions to actually change things still all look the same the same as they have always looked. So I think its great and important when something becomes so popular, like Yee Haw. It means people cant ignore the disparity any more. And the people in power are forced to open the doors that have been closed for so long. These days I think social media plays a huge part in that.

Historically, the most significant Yee Haw looks have included Diana Rosss cowgirl style for her 1969 TV special, the Gap Bands look from the early 80s, singer Nicole Wrays artwork for her first album in 1998 and Lil Kims look in the 1999 Get Naked music video with Tommy Lee. But the first person that comes to mind, when I think about who exudes the Yee Haw look as we know it today, is Mary J Blige. I dont think she gets the praise for taking as many chances as she did, style wise, in the late 90s and early 00s, but she was never afraid of a good cowboy hat and boot combo. I would include Destinys Child in there as well. They always made being from Texas look fly, even though they got criticised for some of their earlier outfits.

Destinys Child in 2001. Photograph: Sipa/REX/Shutterstock

Lil Nas X was very significant to Yee Haw: Old Town Road is literally the biggest song of all time [the song holds the record for the longest time at number one in chart history], so it goes without saying. Seeing his rise was entertaining and made perfect sense, because hes really good at using the internet to his advantage. His stylist, Hodo Musa, is also amazing: my jaw always hits the floor when I see the looks they put together. A lot of the older people who have a problem with him now, mainly forgotten homophobic hip-hop stars, cant keep up with his wit. He always deflects any shade thrown his way.

Recently, I saw an Out magazine headline that read The Gay Yeehaw Agenda Hit The Grammys Red Carpet, accompanied by a photo of Lil Nas X, Billy Porter and Orville Peck [all of whom wore cowboy hats to the awards ceremony]. It made me smile. The only real agenda at this point is to continue to spread the word about Yee Haw so maybe the world wont be as shook the next time a black cowboy makes their presence known.

Diana Ross in 1979. Photograph: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Right now, Im just taking things a day at a time, with the growth of the account [Malandro now has 13.5k followers on Instagram]. I spoke at a festival a few months ago and got to meet some amazing people who participate in the rodeos of today. Im working on incorporating them into the movement and helping put a spotlight on more active cowboys and cowgirls.

I dont think the Yee Haw movement will end any time soon, because its more than just one moment. There may be people who lose interest, like anything that sees a spike in popularity, but fashion will always repeat itself and black cowboys will still be there, like theyve always been.

As told to Priya Elan

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A new study finds women who wear heavy makeup are perceived as less competent. Perhaps its time to make our own rules

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Maybe shes born with it, maybe its the patriarchy

The more makeup you wear, the less human you seem. Thats the rather depressing conclusion of a new study published in the journal Sex Roles, which looked at how cosmetics influence the way we perceive women. Researchers asked 1,000 people (most of whom were from the UK and the US) to evaluate womens faces with and without heavy makeup. They found that both male and female participants rated women wearing a lot of makeup as less human, less warm and less moral. Gotta love that internalized misogyny!

The studys findings are even worse for those who prefer a dramatic smoky eye to a loud lipstick; faces with eye makeup were attributed the least amount of warmth and competence.

It might be that faces with heavy makeup are perceived as possessing less human-like traits because they are visually processed in a way that resembles how most objects are processed, Philippe Bernard, the studys lead author, explained. Bernard, a researcher at the Free University of Brussels further noted that while theres a growing body of research showing how sexualized images prompt the dehumanization of women, less attention has been paid to whether subtler forms of sexualization such as makeup influence objectification. As it turns out, all it takes for a woman to be reduced to an object is a touch too much eyeliner.

Dont chuck out your cosmetics quite yet, however. According to a 2011 study by researchers from Boston University and Harvard Medical School, women who wear a professional amount of makeup in the office are seen as more competent, capable, reliable and amiable than women who sport a bare face. (Its worth noting that the study was funded by Procter & Gamble, which owns cosmetic brands like Olay and SK-II; so take it with a pinch of bath salt.)

While wearing professional levels of makeup may help you at work, you do have to be careful not to look too nice. A 2019 study found attractive businesswomen are judged as being less truthful than less attractive women. Mind you, another study found that attractive people earn more than their plainer peers and that grooming accounts for the entire attractiveness premium for women.

We havent even started on how your hairdo affects how you do in life. There are various studies which suggest women with long hair are seen as being high maintenance and of high reproductive potential. Long hair can also signal decreased forcefulness and can be seen as less professional. (Which might be why Ivanka Trump recently got a bob.) Hair is even more complicated for black women, of course, who are often forced to conform to white beauty standards to be seen as professional.

Being a woman means constantly walking a tightrope between being invisible and being objectified. Youve got to be nice, but not too nice! Youve got to be attractive, but not too attractive! Youve got to wear makeup, but not too much makeup! Perhaps its time to slap on the warpaint and make our own rules.

Self-centered men love high-status cars

Assholes are drawn to expensive German cars, according to science. A new study by researchers from the University of Helsinki found that self-centered men who are argumentative and disagreeable are more likely to own high-status cars such as a BMW or Mercedes. If youve got a Merc it doesnt automatically mean youre a jerk though the researchers also found that conscientious personality types are also driven to high-status vehicles. Heres the interesting bit though: the link between conscientious personalities and a penchant for pricey cars was found among both men and women but the connection between self-centered personalities and high-status cars was only found among men. The researchers arent sure why this is, but it could be because cars are traditionally more of a male status symbol.

The men who take breastmilk from babies

In Uganda, and some parts of Tanzania and Kenya, there is a growing culture of men drinking their partners breast milk. This obviously isnt about taste its about male entitlement. The Guardian notes that the practice is being linked to gender violence and coercive behaviour.

Turkey proposes a marry your rapist bill

The law would allow men who sexually abuse children to avoid punishment if they marry their victim. Gender-based violence is endemic in Turkey; 38% of women have suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner according to the UN.

Game over: should men stop talking sport at work?

According to one HR expert, office conversations about sport make women feel left out. Ann Francke, head of the Chartered Management Institute, told the BBC that excessive sports talk is a gateway to more laddish behaviour. Theres been a backlash to her comments because shock horror a lot of women like sport.

IBMs first female CEO is stepping down

Virginia Rometty, who has been in the role since 2012, will be replaced by Arvind Krishna.

Hadley Freeman interviews Kelis

The R&B singer talks candidly about being assaulted from a business perspective [and] then being assaulted in the home.

The queer history of plants

All youve ever wanted to know about sapphic violets and the pansy craze you can read here.

Female nurses paid less than their male peers

Even though nursing is predominately female, women earn 17% less than men.

Man disappoints 27,722 women at once

E-commerce billionaire Yusaku Maezawa made headlines recently when he extended an invitation for a special woman to join him on Elon Musks Big Falcon Rocket for a trip around the moon. The romantic moonshot was going to be turned into a reality show because, I mean, who wouldnt want to watch an intergalactic version of Love Island? A total of 27,722 women applied for the position of Maezawas girlfriend alas none of them have been selected because the billionaire has now cancelled the reality show for personal reasons.

Elton John bought a ton of Gwyneth Paltrow vagina candles

Goop recently sold out of their famous vagina candles and apparently John is partly to blame; he bought a ton of them. No, I have no idea why either.

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The former One Direction star talks about success at 16, dating normals and his right to rock a dress

Here he comes, one of the planets most conspicuous young men, stepping out of the London drizzle and into a dusty suburban pub. If there was an old vinyl record player in the place it would scratch quiet. Instead, the two-dozen punters turn hushed and intent, as if a unicorn has just trotted in off the street, and nobody wants to scare it off. Thats frickin Harry frickin Styles, whispers a young man at the bar, in this pub. The pop star is asked what he wants to drink and in a voice already inclined to undertones, quietly orders a cup of tea.

A former teen star who is now 25, a happier and rockier solo artist since his boyband One Direction split a few years ago, Styles has hidden himself inside a large, swamp-green parka. Hes tall, around the 6ft mark, and carries himself with a slight stoop. If Styles could only do something about his appearance from the neck up (elfin brow, wide Joker smile, a face thats recognisable across multiple continents) you sense he could drink in pubs like this anonymously enough. As it is, cover blown, he removes the parka. A woolly jumper beneath has a picture of the planet Saturn on it. Maybe theyve heard of Styles there, too.

We take a seat in the corner. On nearby tables, conversations start to sputter as people try to keep their own talk ticking along on autopilot while straining to hear what Styles says. I ask him about the sheer strangeness of this and other aspects of fame. Full stadiums, swooning admirers, an excess of opportunity and cash. Why isnt Styles an absolute ordeal of a human being by now? Keith Richards, at a comparable stage, imagined himself the pirate leader of a travelling nation-state, unbound by international law. Elton John was on vast amounts of cocaine. Meanwhile, heres Harry, known in the music industry as a bit of a freak, medically, having maintained abnormally high levels of civility in his system.

Boots, waistcoat and trousers, Gucci. Pearls, National Theatre costume hire. Necklace and rings, Styless own. Main image: top, waistcoat and trousers, Harris Reed. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian

Styles tilts his head, flattered. There are others, he promises. People who are successful, and still nice. Its when you meet the people who are successful and arent nice, you think: Whats yer excuse? Cos Ive met the other sort.

Styles read Keith Richards autobiography a while back, and he recently finished Eltons, too. (Soooo much cocaine, he marvels.) We talk for a bit about whether extreme dissolute behaviour and artistic greatness go hand in hand. Styles, who has just released his second solo album, Fine Line, the penultimate track of which is called Treat People With Kindness, has to hope not. I just dont think you need to be a dick to be a good artist. But, then, there are also a lot of good artists who are dicks. So. Hmm. Maybe I need to start scaring babies in supermarkets?

A couple of lads hustle over to offer drinks. A photo is requested; they say theyll wait. Im weirdly anxious about Styless phone, which is slung on the table in front of him. What must be the black-market value of that thing? If fans were to get hold of it, would they want to open Styless music app first, to listen to tracks from the new album, or rush to see his messages and calls, to find out who Styles has been flirting with late at night? The interest in his music has always run at a ratio of about 50/50 with the interest in who he is dating.

Its a ratio Styles tries to adjust in favour of the music by being vague about his ex-partners, real and rumoured (Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner, Parisian model Camille Rowe), diverting to discuss his songs about failed relationships. A year ago, when Styles was floating around near this pub in north London, where he lives, and California, where he tends to record, looking for inspiration for the new album, his close friend Tom Hull told him: Just date amazing women, or men, or whatever, who are going to fuck you up Let it affect you and write songs about it.

Styles, who writes in collaboration with Hull and producer Tyler Johnson, sounds as if he took the advice. The new album, Fine Line, is at its best when capturing late-hours moments, drunk calls, wandering hands, kitchen snogs. A golden-haired lover recurs. There are up tracks, down tracks, some with the trippy delirium of harpsichord-era Stones, others with the angsty Britpop swell of strings. While I listened, I couldnt help scribbling down names, possible subjects. On the lyric Theres a piece of you in how I dress I wrote: maybe Kendall? In a song about a lover way too bright for me: surely Taylor.

With Taylor Swift in 2012. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Styles says he keeps to a general rule: write what comes and dont think about it too much afterwards. The only time he worries about an individual lyric is if it risks putting an ex in a difficult position. If a songs about someone, is that fine? Or is that gonna get annoying for them, if people try to decipher it? Has he ever got that judgment call wrong and taken a bollocking from an angry ex? Styles raises an eyebrow. Maybe ask me in a month.

I quiz him on something Ive often wondered about. Why are the very famous so inclined to hook up with the very famous? From the outside it looks twice the hassle, with twice the odds of ending badly. Dont we all do that, though? Styles asks. Go into things that feel relatively doomed from the start? I ask him why he doesnt date normals. He seems tickled: Um. I mean, I do. I have a private life. You just dont know about it.

Styles doesnt particularly like being asked about his love life, but is amused all the same, as he is about most things. When I ask about the logistics of someone as well known as him dating someone anonymous (Do you need to give them, like, some sort of primer?), Styles snorts with laughter.

Uh-h-h. Like any conversation, I guess, its easier if youre honest. But I try to let it come up when it comes up. Cos thats a weird thing to talk about, yknow? If youve just started seeing someone, and youre, like: [he adopts a throaty, mission-briefing voice] So! This is whats gonna happen! Styles holds out his hands: no, ta. I dont wanna have that conversation, man. It would be fucking weird.

And not very sexy, I say.

Not sexy, Styles says, no.

Shirt and H and S rings, Gucci. Other rings, Styless own. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian. Nail artist: Jenny Longworth at CLM

A quick aside about his accent, which is hard to capture in print. (Nat sexy, no.) After a workout in a hotel gym recently, Styles says he was taken aback (taken abeck) to be asked by a stranger whether he was speaking in a fake voice. He was appalled. But after so long crossing borders and time zones, living and working between England and the US, the accent has undergone a jazzy remix, and tends to get farthest from its Cheshire roots when hes around strangers. Once Styles begins to get comfortable in the pub, the flatter, no-nonsense sounds of his youth return. Nowpe he says, for nope. Fook, for fuck.

What the fook are they? This was the response of his childhood pals, he remembers, back in the village of Holmes Chapel, when little Harry had the gumption to show up in the playground wearing Chelsea boots instead of the approved chunky trainers. Styless parents had separated when he was very young, but there is no origin-story trauma: he has always stayed close to both. His mother, Anne, would praise his singing voice in the car, and when Styles was 16 it was agreed he could audition for a singing contest on TV.

The craziest part about the whole X Factor thing, says Styles, who auditioned for the ITV reality show in 2010, is that its so instant. The day before, youve never been on telly. Then suddenly Suddenly youre a piece of national property. You dont think at the time, Oh, maybe I should keep some of my personal stuff back for myself. Partly because, if youre a 16-year-old who does that, you look like a jumped-up little shit. Can you imagine? Sorry, actually, Id rather not comment You dont know what to be protective of.

By the winter of 2010, Styles was a fan favourite, a key member of One Direction, a five-piece that enjoyed enormous national exposure and gathered millions of fans before any music had been released. Cameras filmed every part of their rise. There wasnt any time in the dark to practise, test things out, mentally brace. We didnt get to dip in a toe, Styles says. But, listen, I was a kid, all I knew was: I didnt have to go to school any more. I thought it was fucking great. He remembers having a lot of fun, and being well taken care of. He jokes: Maybe its something Ill have to deal with a bit later. When I wake up in my 40s and think: Arrrggh.

With One Direction in 2012 (far right). Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

In February 2012, One Direction were feted at the Brit Awards, hours before they were due to fly to the US for the first time. On TV that night they looked young, silly, chuffed on the precipice of something huge, and with no clue at all. Their subsequent wonder-run (five platinum albums, four world tours) had its foundations in their ridiculous popularity in the States. Right away, Styles remembers, We were fuelling a machine. Keeping the fire going. He remembers it as a stimulating time; maybe overstimulating. Coming out of it, when the band stopped, I realised that the thing Id been missing, because it was all so fast paced, was human connection.

I first met Styles in 2014, around the time the lack of human connection was starting to bite. One Direction were promoting their penultimate album and Id been commissioned to write about themthe Guardian. Management felt the boys were so exhausted that my minutes in their presence had to be strictly counted. Inside a circle of cripplingly hot lights, while someone ran the stopwatch, we interacted as humanly as we could.

In Dunkirk (on left). Photograph: AP

I remember how jaded the best singer in the group, Zayn Malik, seemed. (Malik was weeks away from quitting.) I also remember how flattered and bewildered the others were to be asked a few grownup questions and not what Louis Tomlinson would later describe to me as whos-your-favourite-superhero all that shit. Styles was watchful and quiet that day. By total chance, a week later, we were in the same London cafe and he tapped my shoulder. He was having lunch with friends. Will ya join us?

It struck me as a quietly classy move. I was fascinated to see him interact with mates hed chosen for himself. Styles was dry and funny, older than his years. After lunch we said the usual things about keeping in touch, and followed each other on Twitter. I kept an eye on his updates, about leaving One Direction, releasing an impressive, self-titled debut album in 2017, playing for 36,000 people in Madison Square Garden in New York, acting in Christopher Nolans Oscar-nominated war movie Dunkirk. Meanwhile, I did my best to manage the mess that had been made of my own account after Styless Twitter follow ignited a small explosion of teenage longing in my mentions. For at least a year I received weekly, sometimes daily, pleas from people who wanted messages conveyed to H. Still now, every few days, fans in America, Asia and Europe follow me to see what H sees in their timeline.

He has around 50 million social media followers, and with that comes the ability to ripple the internet like somebody airing a bedsheet. Ive noticed, though, how rarely Styles directs people to support specific causes, last doing so in 2018, when he encouraged people to join a march against gun violence. Why dont you use your influence more, I ask? Because of dilution. Because Id prefer, when I say something, for people to think I mean it. He runs his fingertips across the table. To be honest, Im still searching for that one thing, yknow. Something I can really stand up for, and get behind, and be like: This Is My Life Fight. Theres a power to doing the one thing. You want your whole weight behind it.

Its one of the things that sets Styles apart, the way he puts his whole weight behind the different aspects of this strange job. If you watch footage of him as a guest host on Saturday Night Live last month, Styles plunges in, fully inhabiting the silliness of every sketch. He has good songs in his repertoire (2017s ballad Sign Of The Times stands out), and would probably admit to some middling songs that attest to his relative inexperience as a writer. But whichever of his songs Styles performs, he goes all-in, trusting that his zest and energy will hold an audiences attention. He approaches this interview in roughly the same spirit, not enjoying every question, fidgeting, pleading for clemency once or twice, but giving everything due consideration.

I bring up something Styles joked about earlier: the possibility of waking up in his 40s with deferred mental health problems.

Mm, he says.

Jacket and brooch, Maison Margiela. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian

Have you thought about therapy, I ask, to get ahead of that?

I go, he says. Not every week. But whenever I feel I need it. For a really long time I didnt try therapy, because I wanted to be the guy who could say: I dont need it. Now I realise I was only getting in my own way. He shrugs. It helps.

Lately hes been reading a lot (Lisa Taddeos Three Women stood out). Hes watched a lot of Netflix (crime thrillers and music docs). He recently cried through Slave Play on Broadway. I sense in Styles, at 25, a pent-up undergraduate hunger, maybe a desire to make up for lost time. Ive definitely been wanting to learn stuff, try stuff, he says. Things I didnt grow up around. Things Id always been a little bit sceptical about. Like therapy, like meditation. All I need to hear is someone saying, Apparently, its amazing, and Ill try it. When I was in Los Angeles once, I heard about juice cleanses. I thought, yeah, Ill do a juice cleanse.

How messy were the results?

You mean? Styles raises an eyebrow, recalling the poos. They were all right. I was just hungry. And bored.

One notable feature of Styless solo career has been his headlong embrace of unconventional clothing. A 2017-18 tour could have been sponsored by the Dulux colour wheel: mustard tones in Sydney, shocking pink in Dallas. In a more serious sense, some of Styless choices have fed into an important political discussion about gendered fashion. In May, as a co-host at the Met Gala in New York, he stepped out in a sheer blouse and a pearl earring. One evenings work challenged a lot of stubborn preconceptions about who gets to wear what.

He says: What women wear. What men wear. For me its not a question of that. If I see a nice shirt and get told, But its for ladies. I think: Okaaaay? Doesnt make me want to wear it less though. I think the moment you feel more comfortable with yourself, it all becomes a lot easier.

With Kendall Jenner at the Met Gala in May. Photograph: Getty Images

What do you mean, I ask?

Styles is leaning forward, hands folded around his cup of tea. A part of it was having, like, a big moment of self-reflection. And self-acceptance. He has a habit, when hes made a definitive statement, of raising his chin and nodding a little, as if to decide whether he still agrees with himself. I think its a very free, and freeing, time. I think people are asking, Why not? a lot more. Which excites me. Its not just clothes where lines have been blurred, its going across so many things. I think you can relate it to music, and how genres are blurring

Sexuality, too, I say.

Yep, says Styles. Yep.

Theres a popular perception, I say, that you dont define as straight. The lyrics to your songs, the clothes you choose to wear, even the sleeve of your new record all of these things get picked apart for clues that youre bisexual. Has anyone ever asked you though?

Um. I guess I haaaaave been asked? But, I dunno. Why?

You mean, why ask the question?

Yeah, I think I do mean that. Its not like Im sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back. Its not a case of: Im not telling you cos I dont want to tell you. Its not: ooh this is mine and its not yours.

What is it then?

Its: who cares? Does that make sense? Its just: who cares?

Dress and shirt, Comme des Garons. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian. Stylist: Harry Lambert at Bryant Artists. Hair: Paul Hanlon. Makeup: Florrie White. Set design: Samuel Pidgen

I suppose my only question, then, is about the stuff that looks like clue dropping. Because if you dont want people to care, why hint? Take the album sleeve for Fine Line. With its horizontal pink and blue stripes, a splash of magenta, the design seems to gesture at the trans and bisexual pride flags. Which is great unless the person behind it happens to be a straight dude, sprinkling LGBTQ crumbs that lead nowhere. Does that make sense?

Styles nods. Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No. As for the rest, he says, in terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeves gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with. I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool. And more than that, I dunno, I just think sexualitys something thats fun. Honestly? I cant say Ive given it any more thought than that.

In our musty corner of the pub weve somehow passed a couple of hours in intense discussion. Well lighten up, before Styles heads home, with some chat about clever films (Marriage Story), stupider viral videos (the little boy whos just learned the word apparently), that favourite-superhero stuff that, after all, has its place. He talks about the curious double time scheme of a pop stars life those crammed 18-hour days and then the sudden empty off-time when Styles might find himself walking miles across London to buy a book, afterwards congratulating himself: Well, thats an hour filled.

Before we stand up I ask if hes minded any of my questions.

He pushes out his lips, possibly recalling them one by one, then shakes his head. What I would say, about the whole being-asked-about-my-sexuality thing this is a job where you might get asked. And to complain about it, to say you hate it, and still do the job, thats just silly. You respect that someones gonna ask. And you hope that they respect they might not get an answer.

I tell him I do.


Styles has to find those lads who wanted a photo. He scoops his phone off the table and flicks his thumb around the screen. Lately, he says, when he messes around on his phone in an idle moment, its mostly to look at videos clips that his friends have sent him, in which their kids sing along to music hes made. Never gets old, Styles says, beaming.

A few years ago, when he emerged from the boyband, blinking, shattered, he set himself three tasks: prioritise friends, learn how to be an adult, achieve a proper balance between the big and the small. Full stadiums, provocative outfits Styles genuinely loves these things. But I guess Ive realised, as well, he says, that the coolest things are not always the cool things. Do you know what I mean? He grabs his parka and his phone and, a little stooped, heads for home.

Harry Styless album Fine Line is out now.

If you would like yourcomment on this piece to be considered for Weekend magazines letters page, please email, including your name and address (not for publication).

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Control underwear has gone mainstream, with everyone from the Kardashians to Victorias Secret jumping on the big-pants bandwagon

A couple of weekends ago, I was waiting on a sofa in a communal changing room, while my teenage daughter was trying on clothes, when the young woman who had been behind us in the queue for cubicles I had noticed the yoga mat and hardback copy of Margaret Atwoods The Testaments sticking out of her fabric tote bag championing a charity for girls education emerged barefoot in a short black dress. She stood sideways in front of the big mirror, wrinkled her nose at her reflection, sucked her tummy in hard and then, happier, smiled at me. Just needs Spanx, right? she said.

Correct answer to that, anyone? Because I was stumped. My first instinct was: of course you dont need Spanx. You are a twentysomething peach, you are perfect exactly as you are and thats enough of that nonsense. But then I thought: maybe its kind of great that you can talk openly about wearing whichever big, sturdy knickers work for you and not feel as if you have to pretend to be wearing lace lingerie all the time. Then I thought: hang on a minute. Why am I plotting this young woman on an imaginary feminism graph with books read on the X-axis and knickers worn on the Y-axis?

You know that feminism graph oh, yes you do. It may be made up, but it is, at the same time, very much a real thing. We map womens progressive credentials against the height of their heels (too high being unsisterly) or the length of their eyelashes (fake, ditto). The coordinates dont always involve fashion but they frequently do. And underwear, being the point where womens bodies meet the outside world, is very often a flashpoint.

SKIMS, by Kim Kardashian West.

In the past decade, Victorias Secret has become the Fox News of fashions attention economy. It turned womens bodies into luridly compelling content, and in doing so turned underwear into a political battleground. This year, having been persistently criticised for fetishising an aesthetic of ultra-low body fat, a Victorias Secret advertising campaign features a plus-size model, Ali Tate Cutler, for the first time. Last week, it announced that it would be cancelling its annual fashion show (which had also been criticised for its unrealistic portrayal of its models).

On the face of it, shapewear is at the opposite end of the underwear spectrum to Victorias Secret. Control pants are utilitarian, shadowy items of doubtful beauty, while catwalk-worthy lingerie is designed to be seen, to dazzle and titillate. But they share a mission, which is the pursuit of an ideal, hourglass-curve body. Now, the size-inclusivity and body-positivity movement that puts Lizzo on the cover of next months British Vogueis having an impact on the shapewear sector of the underwear market, too but not in the way you might have expected.

The mood music around underwear has seen squished-together cleavage replaced with comfy bralets in ad campaigns, and Beyonc striking a queenly pose on Instagram in a burgundy bra, turquoise satin knickers, baby bump and veil. But, far from throwing out their control pants and accepting their squidgy inner thighs and potbellies, millennials are driving a shapewear boom. A recent report by the business analyst Textiles Intelligence predicted that the global market for shapewear will expand at an annual rate of 4% a year between now and 2022.

Kim Kardashian West entered the market this year with her solutionwear range, SKIMS a name whose phonic adjacency to Spanx is unlikely to be an accident. Whatever your views on the Kardashians, you will acknowledge that, when it comes to pop culture, their money-making instincts are rarely wrong. The fashion search engine Lyst reports that searches are up year on year in shapewear for biker shorts (137%) and bodysuits (83%). Oprah recently started a frenzy for the Perfect Black Pant by Spanx a pair of trousers with inbuilt tummy and thigh control when she included it on her annual holiday-season wishlist of Favourite Things, gushing that she had called Spanxs founder, Sara Blakely, to applaud and thank her for creating the ultraflattering trousers.

Heist, a cult tights and shapewear label that prides itself on skin-tone inclusivity, and recently launched sustainable fishnet tights, has tackled the issue head on with a series of posters that posed the question: Shapewear is anti-feminist, right? and invited consumers to discuss on social media. We posed that question because we hear it a lot the idea that shapewear is the modern corset, and therefore anti-feminist, says Fiona Fairhurst, the vice-president of innovation at the brand. The response to the campaign was huge. People really engaged. There were those who challenged us on the basis that the shapewear industry perpetuates the idea of a perfect body, and we had a really interesting panel that delved into how much we alter our appearances for ourselves and others. For us, its about personal choice without judgment. But, lets be clear, we dont think that wearing shapewear is a feminist act akin to fighting for equal pay or challenging gender representation.

Perfect Black Pant by Spanx.

Brands such as Heist and Rihannas Savage X Fenty lingerie claim that by being inclusive to a spectrum of skin tones and range of body sizes at point of purchase, but also in advertising imagery and in Rihannas case on the New York fashion week catwalk they are disrupting the shapewear and lingerie worlds with an authentic celebration of all women. Women tell us constantly how confident they feel wearing our shapewear, says Fairhurst. Heists language is that of empowerment: a better experience, a collection that works for everyone and has comfort front of mind.

Whether or not shapewear has truly developed in philosophy, it has evolved technically. I can report that the new generation of products from Heist and Spanx are infinitely more comfortable than control pants were in their original iteration. Advanced fabric technology allows pressure to be evenly distributed through a wide waistband. The rigid seams that once dug tightly into flesh, a daylong reminder of the very bit of your body you were trying to magic away, are no more. Spanx leggings, with seamless legs and a flattening power waistband, have a surface grace, which belies their engineering. Fairhurst made her name with Speedos Fastskin, a swimsuit inspired by sharkskin, which attempts to emulate the ability of a shark to travel through water with about 10% less energy expenditure than a fish with smooth skin. At Heist, she uses HeroPanel technology, which mimics fascia, the bodys connective tissue that sits between muscle and skin, to provide a natural support system that can lift as well as compress essential for a generation that wants a high, prominent bottom as well as a small waist.

At a fundamental level, our shapewear is comfortable, looks good and doesnt make you sweat. The HeroPanels have 20,000 laser perforations, making them 100% breathable, says Fairhurst. They also take up to 5cm off your waist in total comfort, she adds, if thats what youre looking for.

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