Reflections On a City

Valentin Hennequin and Georgia Thompson’s sleek shoot on the streets of Paris

Full look Lemaire, additional under shirt Dries Van Noten, briefcase by Berluti

L: Shirt, jumper, jacket and bag Dior Men, trousers Zegna, shoes Lemaire. R: Full look Bottega Veneta

Shirt Ernest W.Baker, suit Brioni, coat and tie Dunhill, shoes Hermès

L: Full look Louis Vuitton, tie Dunhill. R: Shirt Ernest W.Baker, suit Brioni, tie Dunhill, shoes Hermès

Full look Miu Miu, roll neck stylists own, trousers Zegna

Full look and scarf Hermès, shoes Prada

Full look Prada

Full suit Celine, coat GmbH

Full look Givenchy

Photography Valentin Hennequin
 
 
 
 
Styling assistant Ophelie Cozette

High Fidelity


ZEGNA

BRIONI

Coat DUNHILL Jacket LOEWE Shirt DUNHILL Tie DUNHILL

FENDI

Coat DUNHILL Jacket BOTTEGA VENETA Sunglasses BOTTEGA VENETA

BURBERRY

GUCCI

HERMÈS

POLO RALPH LAUREN

Suit LOUIS VUITTON Cardigan PRADA Tie HERMÈS Sunglasses DIOR

JIL SANDER BY LUCIE AND LUKE MEIER

Blazer PRADA Shirt DUNHILL Scarf NANUSHKA Glasses GENTLE MONSTER

Photography Angus Williams 

Styling Georgia Thompson

Hairstylist Hiroshi Matsushita 

Models Pete Golding at XDIRECTN, Robert Suthers at Tomorrow Is Another Day, Steve Fox at Tomorrow Is Another Day, Daniel courtesy of Ethan Price Casting, Bulent Mehmet courtesy of Ethan Price Casting

Casting Ethan Price

Styling Assistant Helly Pringle

This article is taken from Port issue 30. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here

Dreamboat


Hat CELINE Necklace CELINE Belt CELINE Trousers CELINE Vest HANRO Phone cover RIMOWA


CANALI

ZEGNA

DUNHILL

SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO

LOUIS VUITTON

PRADA

TOD’S

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

JOHN LOBB

DIOR

Shirt VALENTINO Necklace VALENTINO GARAVANI

JIL SANDER BY LUCIE AND LUKE MEIER

Photography Marie Valognes 

Styling Lune Kuipers

Models Akachi, Nicolas, Idrisse 

Special thanks to Coline and Sarah

This article is taken from Port issue 30. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here

The 232

Zegna’s latest campaign pays homage to the panoramic road established by its founder 

Isaac, Yagamoto & Marracash

After Ermenegildo Zegna had built his wool mill in Trivero, he cast his eye further to the surrounding natural territory. In the 1930’s, the founder of the eponymous fashion house began undertaking an enormous environmental restoration project in the mountains of Piedmont, Northern Italy. Through rigorous reforestation work – including the planting of over 500,000 conifer trees – the free access area named Oasi Zegna now expands through 1,420 hectares of woods and 170 hectares of pasture, and even includes a ski slope. Obtaining a FAI patronage (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) as a unique model in Italy in 2014, this year it became internationally certified by the FSC® standard for forest management and ecosystem services for the community.

Yagamoto

Snaking through the 100 km2 territory under the shadow of the Biella Alps lies a panoramic road also built by Zegna, colloquially known as the 232. It is this winding path and the eden it cuts through that acts as the creative spring-board for the luxury brand’s latest campaign, fronted by musician Marracash, actor Isaac Hempstead Wright and movement director Yagamoto for its introductory season.

Artistic Director Alessandro Sartori provides a flowing, workwear-inspired uniform for the trio, in ecru, blue and burnt-ochre respectively. Making it explicit that “the journey is more important than the destination”, the campaign also features a new iconic ZEGNA 232 brand mark, a graphic representation of said road.

In the accompanying film, Yagamoto reflects: “To gain more wisdom in regards to what I love – that’s a path I want to and I will go on in the future.” Check out the full video, with candid reflections from the 232 family, in the link below.


zegna.com

Triple Stitch Sneaker

Zegna reimagines the iconic shoe for SS22, placing versatility and flexibility at the core of its refreshed design

So long are the days where sneakers are reserved only for athletes. Thanks to modernised updates to the typically sports-centred footwear, comfort, ease and style now go hand-in-hand to its practical counterparts. In the latest announcement from global luxury menswear brand ZegnaZegna, the Triple Stitch Sneaker is proving just that with its versatile approach to aesthetic and design.

Reimagined by artistic director Alessandro Sartori, the Triple Stitch Sneaker returns each season and has consequently solidified itself as an iconic staple within the contemporary menswear capsule wardrobe – especially in the cupboard of Zegna, an enduring influence in the luxury leisurewear industry for 112 years. This new iteration, then, features a revamped silhouette that sees elegance merge with high design and a multitude of wearable colours. A smooth and classic structure means the sneaker can be worn in an array of different settings, from the humdrum of daily life to work, travel and the more leisurely. Coupled with a refreshed take on its materiality, the sneaker sees a rich grained leather paired with canvas and suede, topped off with elastic straps for the wearer to conveniently slip on and off with ease and mobility. 

Comfort is indeed of high importance to the design of the Triple Stitch, which is further elevated by its lightweight rubber sole and flexible construction. By emphasising the need for accessibility and comfort, this shows just how much the needs of the modern wearer has changed. The shoe can quite literally be worn with anything, whether it’s the more formal attire to the more casual – a suited trouser to a sporty jogger, for instance. 

Formerly making its name in the early 1830s, the sports shoe was first created by The Liverpool Rubber Company, founded by John Boyd Dunlop. At the time, the sneaker made headway for its innovative method of bonding canvas to rubber roles, making it the perfect shoe for trips to the beach. Further down the line, the sneaker steered more in the way of athletics and was therefore dominated by sporting pursuits, moulded by a more athletic function and design. And now, the Zegna Tripe Stitch Sneaker comes at a time of universality; it’s a melting pot of style and form, past and present; it’s to be worn with flexibility at the hand (or foot) of the wearer.

Zegna was founded by Ermenegildo Zegna over 110 years ago in the Piedmont mountains of Northern Italy. Now part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, the company has long been committed to preserving and leveraging its heritage – and the Triple Stitch Sneaker update is pinnacle of that.

Milano and Beyond

Carlo Capasa, chairman of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, discusses MFW and the future of fashion

Prada AW22

Apolitical and not-for-profit, the aims of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) have remained largely the same since its inception in 1958: to “represent the highest values of Italian fashion, and to protect, co-ordinate and strengthen the image of Italian fashion in Italy and abroad, as well as the technical, artistic and economic interests of its Associates”. Representing more than 200 companies across the sector, it plays a vital and global role in setting the fashion agenda, most visibly through Milan Fashion Week. January’s menswear offering remained on tenterhooks, unsure whether it would even be able to go ahead three days before launch, but in the end delivering 23 shows and 47 brand presentations. It was a week of Italian staples expressing themselves confidently – Prada, Zegna, Brioni and Fendi deserve special mention – as well as striking debuts, with brands like JW Anderson and 1017 ALYX 9SM presenting for the first time in the calendar of shows.

Conducting such an orchestra year on year (and through a pandemic) would shave years off my life, I confessed to Carlo Capasa, the charismatic chairman of CNMI. Capasa is simply too busy (and optimistic) to worry, and caught up with Port to discuss the association’s active work in upskilling Italian workers, fostering greater diversity and inclusion, and how covid has accelerated its digital capabilities.

Carlo Capasa

Congratulations on a fantastic week, have you had a moment to relax or is it onto the next thing?

We’re deep into, of course, the next fashion week! Women’s is complex to organise because there’s more brands, more presentations, but we’re hoping the covid situation in Europe will have improved slightly. Men’s was very successful, but it was stressful not knowing whether it was going to go ahead three days before we started… We are excited for February and hope we can deliver an even better week this time.

Before any of the shows, you started with a tribute to Giovanni Gastel, the photography legend who sadly passed away. This felt like a personal and moving way to begin.

He was an incredible, brilliant man. Charming, creative, unique. He was not only part of the Italian community, but to the global fashion community. Not only a great artist, but a great person. I thought it was quite natural to celebrate the first fashion week without him, with him. He was a friend of mine, and really a friend of everyones. We started with the heart.

Fendi, Brioni, Zegna and Prada in particular delivered striking collections, were there any others that surprised you?

All collections this season were particularly creative. During this crisis fashion has reacted with creativity, trying to break out of the pandemic and the restrictions it brings. Taking all this pressure and turning out something fresh, a new dream, new feeling, some positivity. I think it was one of the strongest collections in a creative sense, and I appreciate this approach, this attitude everybody brought.

Brioni AW22

Pressure makes diamonds. There definitely seemed to be a note of elegance, people being keen to dress up, go out, feel luxurious. I suppose it is only natural after what we’ve gone through.

Yes, it is an appropriate reaction to the time we are living through, where many are confined to their homes…

In the same trousers, every day…

Yes, let’s take it to the next level, capture that energy of going out, of feeling good!

‘I gioielli della fantasia’ exhibition of the late photographer Giovanni Gastel

Throughout the last couple of years, MFW has been recognised as an industry standard, how have you found navigating this new terrain and making sure people are protected, whilst still showcasing what’s next?

We were forced to be very resilient, to react and adapt very quickly to any situation. There were weeks where we were almost 90% digital, which was completely new. In February 2020, we organized, in a few days, a new idea for a digital platform exclusively for China showcasing all that would happen in Milan. We made a deal with Tencent – allowing for direct streaming, essentially 24 hours of digital communication – and immediately hit 18 million people watching the week. Since then we’ve understood that the digital side of our offering was just as important as the physical. Last September, we had 56 million people watching and these dual tracks will remain, even when we’re out of the pandemic. Because although the experience of seeing a fashion show in the flesh is something you cannot miss – meeting other people, talking to the designers – with strong digital organisation, we are able to bring another kind of experience to everyone in the world, enlarging our community. With travel impossible, we found a way to travel, as it were. This idea of digital was already there, dormant, but was accelerated, meaning we gained five years of growth in six months. We’ve caught up on virtual collections, 3D pattern-making and printing, all these new frontiers that impact the production chain, in such a short time.

Ardusse AW22

I know making sustainable changes to the industry and supporting young Italian talent is a focus area for CNMI, could you expand on this a little?

For many years we’ve been asking, what do we really need? Does fashion need to be so fast? The consciousness of people has been growing over the past two years, especially in the first year of the pandemic. Should there be limited production for some collections, so we’re not over producing, trying to be closer to actual consumer demand? Do we need constant sales, over consumption? Let’s change the idea of fashion, whether that’s a better understanding of recycling, reusing or renting vintage, using less plastic, having a say in the chemicals used in our industry. Beyond building a more circular economy, we’re trying to push a greater understanding on the human, social element. We’re talking to our community about rules and values, because we cannot ignore the people and hands that produce our garments. We’re therefore controlling more of our production chain and have just conducted an important survey to analyse the wages and work conditions of fashion workers in Italy, so we improve their conditions. All the brands we work with have embraced these recommendations, and we are proud to say we very recently signed an agreement with the ministry of labour and social policies, allowing us to digitally upskill and retrain 40,000 workers in the industry over the next five years. Amidst change, we want to make sure no one is left behind.

JW Anderson AW22

You have also been looking to encourage greater diversity and inclusion?

The fashion community has the opportunity to communicate at a high level some of these values, in some cases more so than the government can. It is an incredible responsibility because incredible change is needed, but we cannot hide. We have to stand up for what we think matters, and diversity is a value. I would like to think that fashion is open, that we do not judge by culture, religion, sexuality, race. For me, fashion was always a place where you could be a little more accepted, whoever you were. But, we have work to do. We published our manifesto on inclusiveness in 2019, following a great many roundtables with Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Zegna, Fendi, Armani, Moschino, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino and Versace, among others, all working together to layout structural and concrete changes needed. Whether that’s ensuring proper stylists can treat different hair textures before the runway, or working with charities such as Mygrants, a platform providing free training for refugees. Many of the those participants now have full time work. Fashion, by definition, is projected into and concerned with the future. So we are responsible in shaping and contributing to that future through diversity, which is the natural balance of things. The planet, our ecosystem, is rooted in it. Diversity is the beauty of difference. Unfortunately that is sometimes not obvious to our society.

What role do you think the pandemic will continue to play in your world?

As mentioned, fashion is always presenting what is next, in some way, always looking forward. Designers think about next seasons, new possibilities, and projected timelines. They are always putting hope that we are the end of the tunnel, that something will change. That we are emerging into something new. They think beyond lockdowns and try to capture another mood. This is the visionary side of fashion: anticipating wishes, our dreams of tomorrow.

cameramoda.it

Milano Fashion Week Women’s takes place 22nd-28th February, 2022

Working with Words: Azekel

The acclaimed musician explores modern masculinity with Farfetch and Zegna

All clothing Ermenegildo Zegna

A wise man’s mother once told him to “give a person their roses while they’re alive”. For some men this remains a challenge, the fear of vulnerability shutting them off from others, their feelings languishing in the dark. What would the world look like if this rigid form of masculinity were shed? What qualities would we instil in our sons to make that happen? Together with Port, Farfetch and Zegna have partnered to create two short films with poet Seán Hewitt and musician Azekel, exploring the subject of modern masculinity as well as a recital something they’ve penned. 

Port talked to Azekel – the London-based progressive R&B artist who’s earned the admiration from the likes of Prince and collaborated with Massive Attack and Gorillaz – about his chosen text (taken from his upcoming body of work ‘Analyse Love’), hip hop sampling, and how men can spread more love.

 

How has your work impacted the way you navigate life and the way in which you communicate with others? What freedom has music given you?

It’s brought me to different worlds, allowed me to meet different people, understand different lives. I’m really into collaboration and community, and it has brought me to lots of different communities. From a young age growing up in east London, listening to different kinds of music and playing instruments, it allowed me kind of travel before I actually traveled. It opened my mind up from a very young age and it continues to still do that – brings me in different spaces. It allowed me to meet you, for example…

When I first fall in love with music as a child?

My mum was born in Balham, so even though I’m Nigerian I was exposed to British music early on, not just African music, or funk and hip hop. My mum bought me a guitar when I was a kid, she said I could become the next Jimmy Hendrix, which was cool. Simply her saying that made me inquisitive to who Jimmy Hendrix was. That’s an inspirational thing for a six year old to hear. I went on to smash and break the guitar over my brother’s head though! As I got older I carried on that thirst and desire to make music and bought my own guitar. I bought it from Argos – I’ve still got it actually, it plays really well.

The piece starts with a quote from Slum Village – do you often look to other musicians for inspiration?

I love hip hop and a big part of hip hop is sampling. I love to sample and I think I do that in all kinds of creative disciplines. Whether it’s prose, films, music…I like the idea of using life, other people’s lives, recycling, not letting anything go to waste.

Hip hop is definitely one of the most reciprocal genres in that it often cuts something up and creates something entirely new in the process. Why did you pen these words, where did they come from?

I love J Dilla first and foremost, he’s a big influence on my musical style. I’ve been working on a body of work called ‘Analyse Love’ and it talks about different aspects of love – parental love, sexual love, brotherly love – and as I was making the record I was listening to that Slum Village song, ‘The Look of Love’. The lyrics really spoke to me – what is love, you know, what does it look like? I liked the lyric that it’s got something to do with being a man and handling your biz…For me anyway, the idea of what love is was put on me rather than me understanding what it was my own self. So in the course of making this body of work, or this album or mix tape, as I was making the work, I was understanding what love meant to me, my own self.

How can we spread some more love, have men look after other men?

How can you spread love? I think loving yourself first, being comfortable in your own skin, then there’s less ego.

What does RuPaul say, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Yeah of course, self-love, 100%. I think men don’t really talk about that as well – self-love. Especially the Western ideology of what masculinity is, through things like cinema, is macho, strong and silent, 007. Aspects of strength are definitely needed, but I think it’s also okay for a man to say he’s scared or has fears. Maybe he doesn’t need to share that with everyone, but the people he’s close to.

Is love and faith interchangeable for you?

I think it’s instinctive. I believe love is the purest thing. So naturally you would think God, whatever that means to you, would be akin to something which is that pure.

What do you think masculinity means in today’s society? How would you like to see this develop and progress in the future? Or to put it another way, if you were raising your son, what qualities would you want to instill in them?

I think the idea of masculinity is so right or left, that it becomes too difficult to live. Just like certain concepts of love can become too difficult to live. If I were to raise a son I would want him to be himself. Ideals are obviously important to aim for, but I think self-acceptance, being yourself, being comfortable in your own skin, I think that’s what makes a man really, being comfortable, not feeling you have to put on a mask, or have to live up to an unworkable role. It’s a process, it’s a journey, but it’s also an individual thing. I don’t think it’s something that should be forced onto anyone. Masculinity should be whatever your definition is.

Nobody wants to live in narrow, predestined boundaries. For boys or men who struggle to articulate their love – whether it’s for family, a friend, or partner – what advice would you give to them? How can men better communicate in their own day-to-day lives?

I think men’s inhibitions are often rooted in a fear of how they’re perceived, how other people will see them. I tell my guys, my boys all the time, ‘I love you’. Men need to understand that love doesn’t always have to be a sexual thing. Love is an emotion. Again, it goes back to being comfortable with yourself in order to communicate openly and honestly. Part of that is understanding that we only have a fixed time on this earth. It’s therefore important to live in the present and tell our loved ones that we appreciate them, whenever we can.

farfetch.com

zegna.com

Photography Benedict Brink

Styling Mitchell Belk

Grooming Roku Roppongi

Working with Words: Seán Hewitt

Farfetch and Zegna explore modern masculinity with the award-winning poet

All clothing Ermenegildo Zegna

“I am large, I contain multitudes”, wrote Walt Whitman in his seminal poem ‘Song of Myself’, and indeed, most can lay claim to this statement. Assumptions of character traits based on people’s gender, or assigned sex at birth, often fall short of reality. We are simply too complex for binaries. However, what does masculinity mean today? Its toxic qualities are easier to identify and are increasingly being called out, but what does a progressive version of it look like? What new opportunities do men have to communicate, to grow? Together with Port, Farfetch and Zegna have partnered to create two short films with poet Seán Hewitt and musician Azekel, exploring the subject as well as a recital of a text they’ve penned. 

Port caught up with Hewitt – whose debut collection, Tongues of Fire, won The Laurel Prize – to discuss his chosen work ‘Ilex’, the consequences of men denying their fragility, and writing as a means of investigation.

 

Why is poetry your artistic medium? What sets it apart from other modes of communication, literature, expression?

Fundamentally I write poetry because I like its mystery. I like the fact that rhythm and music and rhyme and language all play together. Often when you write a poem, you don’t know where it’s going and you find something out by the time you get there. I think of the poem as connecting two things that wouldn’t be connected otherwise and you basically ask the question, what happens if we connect them? So it feels like discovery to me.

Why do you often pair the natural world with the poetry of the body? What magic happens when the two meet?

I often think of using the natural world or looking through the natural world and back to the body as a way of rethinking what the body can be, or what nature – which is really the rest of the world – can teach us about being human, or what it might mean to be human. If we were to look at a question and ask, for example, ‘what would a piece of holly teach us about this?’, we come at it in such a strange way, a way that’s outside of our usual way of thinking. A poem might begin thinking about a piece of fungus, and if you turn that back and look at life or love or the body, you often begin to ask different questions and think how are things connected. Of course, as a poet, you think everything is connected.

I like the idea of poetry as a mode of investigation. The poem is beautiful by the way – why did you choose this text with masculinity in mind? Why is it important to you?

I chose this poem thinking about masculinity for a number of reasons. One, because it’s basically a really old-fashioned occasional poem, written on the birth of my nephew. But I was wondering, what would I wish for a young boy now? And it was the ability to retain vulnerability, the ability to be fragile. To bring into being a man or masculinity, where all these things that are often seen as weaknesses, might actually be blessings, in a way. Another reason that I like this poem is because originally when I wrote it, I sent it out to an editor, anonymously. My name wasn’t attached and they thought it was by a woman, and I liked the idea then that inside the space of a poem, I’m almost androgynous. Once you connect my name with that poem, people read it differently, but there’s nothing instinctively masculine or feminine about the person I am inside the poem. It made me think perhaps I’m not a static masculine identity, that inside the poem I have a freedom that perhaps I don’t have elsewhere.

What are the consequences of denying the fragility you highlight in the poem?

Psychoanalysis tells you that you can’t bury anything successfully. Often what we’re asked to do is distraction or rechanneling that emotion into some other outlet, and eventually they catch up with us. We see often men dealing with the outcomes of that emotion or experience catching up. One nice thing about poetry or being an artist is that you get the chance to sit down with those emotions in a private way and figure them out as best you can, on your own, and then share them. I think that that is a connection between a writer and a reader or a singer and a listener – that you create this space where we can communicate with each other in ways that we don’t often do.

Roger Robinson said that poetry is an opportunity to practice your humanity with others. It’s a way to empathise, a vehicle to access other bodies, other states of mind. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges for men in communicating today? What can be done to remedy this?

It is a big question. My sense of it is, and this is probably because I’m not immune to it, I don’t think anyone is immune to it…There is a feeling that anything that we do feel might be particular to ourselves. I think the more we talk, the more we read, the more we listen, the more we learn that nothing is particular to any given person. No matter how embarrassing the thing you might want to say feels, it’s never embarrassing to the person who hears it, because they recognise something of themselves in it. That’s why in a poem or in a song, I can say I was doing this, this is about my nephew, this happened to me on this particular time. And anyone else can read it and see something of themselves in it. So nothing is a particular unique experience. It always has an element of universality if you tell it honestly. I think the fear of that isolation, or being the only one, is what holds people back from speaking. But the more we speak, the more we realise we’re not alone or isolated at all.

We’re living in a different world to our fathers and grandfathers. What opportunities do we as a younger generation of men have when it comes to defining and expressing ourselves?

We live in a world where people are beginning to be a bit more open about what masculinity or femininity mean, and whether we need those categories. Or, what it might mean to express oneself in a way outside what we think of as those categories. And that feels like a great freedom to me. We have technology, we have different jobs available. We have a whole history behind us, of men wearing makeup, you know, our parents grew up in the 70s, 80s. They shouldn’t be shocked! So maybe we should be a bit braver in doing whatever we want and expressing ourselves in different ways, because we’ve come a long way. I think grabbing hold of that freedom, making use of it, is what we should do. We should be brave enough to do that.

Are binary terms like masculinity and femininity, where we ascribe qualities based on gender, relevant anymore? Do you think masculinity can be a force for good and if so, in what way? What would it look like?

It’s hard to say what is a masculine trait and what is a feminine trait. In my mind when I begin to list what I think of as masculine traits, I think of so many women that display them. If I were to imagine an ideal masculinity, it would be one that was vulnerable, emotional. In fact, that borrows many aspects of stereotypical femininity. I think it would probably be a blended identity, because any polarised thing, any binary, is inevitably going to lack what the other thing has. An ideal always has to be a kind of compromise between the two. So yes – vulnerability, creativity, the freedom to express oneself, no fear of showing emotion, care for other people. That’s something I’d like future men and masculinity to exhibit. It must be widely defined enough that anyone can fit into it.

If I were to think about strength, I immediately think of my mother, if I was thinking about vulnerability I would immediately think about my father. That may be personally unique, but I’m sure it applies to many people. Good parents will have those blended identities. Speaking of – how is your nephew? How old is he?

He’s four, and he’s well. Apparently it’s quite common for a couple of weeks for it to be hard to get children to breastfeed. He’s absolutely fine. He’s a terror.

As his uncle, what lessons or qualities would you like to pass on to him?

It’s quite a nice role to be an uncle because you get to have fun and to steal children away for a day or so, and not have a great deal of responsibility. He’s very imaginative, so I like to play creatively with him. He loves to make up stories and I buy him books and read to him. He paints, runs around, dresses up, he just has that freedom and play that I think we lose too quickly. I would like him to get the most out of that and hold onto it as long as he can. At least until the world drums it out of him!

farfetch.com

zegna.com

Photography Benedict Brink

Styling Mitchell Belk

Grooming Roku Roppongi

Kelvin Harrison Jr

Anna Smith talks to the issue 26 cover star and actor about working with his idols, the changing shape of masculinity and how he’s not taking anything for granted

Kelvin Harrison Jr wears Ermenegildo Zegna throughout

 

“I’m a mess!” is not how you expect a film star to answer the polite opener, “How are you?” But Kelvin Harrison Jr is not your average film star. In contrast to media-trained Hollywood types, the 25-year-old actor is leading a new generation of open, honest performers who are ready and willing to share about everything, from mental health to toxic masculinity. He’s driving in LA when we speak on the phone – hands free, of course – and has yet to feel at home in Tinseltown, where he’s just moved from New York. “I’m moving right now and I’m starting a new job,” he sighs cheerfully. “You know, one day… one day at a time.”

It has all happened rather suddenly for the boy from New Orleans. After small roles in 12 Years a Slave, The Birth of a Nation and Mudbound, he caught casting directors’ attention in the gripping horror It Comes At Night (2017). “I did four movies back to back during that time; I did JT LeRoy and then straight into Monsters and Men, then I started to prep for Luce, then I did The Wolf Hour…” Harrison starred alongside Naomi Watts in the latter two films, spending a lot of time with her and Luce co-star Tim Roth. The pair play the adoptive parents of his A-grade student Luce, a former child soldier who develops a conflict with a teacher (Octavia Spencer). It’s a mesmerising psychological thriller that hinges on Harrison’s enigmatic central performance, his broad smile hiding all manner of mysteries. How did he prepare for that character? “I watched interviews with Barack Obama and Will Smith,” he says, upbeat: “And the director, Julius Onah, made me come in every week and do a speech for him. I did a lot of research on child soldiers and finding the therapy that I might have undergone at seven years old. I thought that was incredibly necessary to get into the mindset. I started track training; I also did basketball lessons. It was very tedious.”

Harrison uses the word “tedious” several times, but you never get the sense that he’s complaining, just stating a fact. This is a determined young man who was brought up with a very strong work ethic, just like Luce, as well as his character Tyler in the film Waves. A young athlete who crumbles amid pressure exerted by his well-meaning father (Sterling K Brown), Tyler, elicits another astonishing, intense performance from the actor, who related to his “fear of disappointment, and not realising your full potential”.

During our conversation, Kelvin Harrison Senior comes up a lot. A musician married to another musician, he expected his son to follow suit, but it wasn’t to be. “My parents were classically trained jazz musicians, it was a different world. When I dropped out of school to do a TV show in Puerto Rico (StartUp), it was a big moment for me, because my dad was like: ‘What are you doing, dude?!’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know; I don’t really like the class, and my teacher’s annoying. I would rather be in Puerto Rico, pretending to be a Haitian gangster.’”

Whatever his motivation, it seems to have paid off. “Yesterday my dad said, ‘I just watched Luce twice today.’ He loves the movie. He’s the one that introduced me to the book 12 Years a Slave and gave me so many books about young boys coming of age, and about time and patience. He’s a very patient man, even though at moments he’s very impatient. He loves these conversations about class and race. I think it’s really giving him an opportunity to understand me better.”

If several of Junior’s film choices focus on toxic masculinity, that’s probably no coincidence. “I don’t know where it started, but there’s pressure on young men to be a certain way. And I also think that I’ve seen a difference in young men that got a different love and affection from their fathers. If, from a very young age, he’s hugging you and giving you kisses… The friends that I know that have had those experiences tend to be less insecure and less fragile about their masculinity. My dad didn’t know any better. But, you know, I don’t judge the man who has a little bit of toxic masculinity. I have the power as a young person to talk to my dad and empower him and encourage him to embrace me. And, ultimately, I’m hurting myself if I continue to beat myself down with these expectations.”

This is clearly a young man who has benefited from self-reflection. “There’s so many things that young people are dealing with,” he says, referring to social media, among other things. “Professionals are good to have. Last summer, I lost my cousin to mental health issues: he took his life. That was really tough for me.” The actor is also ready to talk about being vulnerable in platonic friendships. “When I love you, I love you. And if the friendship falls apart, that takes a toll on me. So I’m a little more conscious of who I’m letting into my space right now.” Harrison is currently single, but when he has a romantic partner, “I hope that she’s my best friend. I treat it the same way (as friendships); there’s just a few other little things happening, you know!”

When he was shortlisted for the EE Rising Star Award, Harrison became one of the very few actors of colour nominated for a BAFTA this year. How does he feel about the awards’ diversity controversy? “I mean, I hear about it a lot – because I’m a black kid, you know! I get what the argument is, but also to participate in it wholeheartedly is dishonest for me right now. At this point in my career, I just want to tell good stories about different people, and if I get recognition, wonderful. Hopefully it doesn’t stop me from not working if I don’t.” That doesn’t seem likely, I suggest. He agrees. “Right now, that’s why I’m not as concerned… If that changes, I might be on the forefront of: ‘We need more black people in awards season!’”

It’s not all serious in Harrison’s world, and to prove it he is currently working on Nisha Ganatra’s musical comedy-drama The High Note, starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana. “I had to lighten things up. I was like: I want to know what love feels like, have a good time, sing some songs. It’s a female-led movie that exposes what the music industry feels like in Hollywood, and also what it feels like to be a woman in that space.” He’s also starring in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. “It was iconic, you know: We’re doing this incredible story and Mark Rylance is there and Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen, and the list goes on… Being the youngest person in that ensemble was like a masterclass and a gift. Something I would never take for granted, ever.”

His next project is under wraps, but he will reveal that it involves a “crazy diet”. He also hopes to work with his idol, 12 Years a Slave actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, again soon. “I always felt like I look like him a little bit: little bug eyes, and he’s got a classic man energy; kind of awkward and he’s such a master of subtlety. I love subtlety in film-making.” There: he’s summed it up. Classic man energy, kind of awkward, a master of subtlety. It looks like Kelvin Harrison Jr is well on the way to achieving his dream – and on his own terms.

Produced in collaboration with Ermenegildo Zegna to foster the dialogue of its What Makes A Man campaign, a new platform for discussion on the meaning of modern masculinity.

Photography Georgie Wood

Styling Rose Forde

Set design Jesse Kaufmann at Frank Reps

Photography assistants Dylan Long and Scott Barraza

Styling assistant Amber Rose Smith

Grooming Melissa DeZarate at The Wall Group with La Prairie

Production The Production Factory

This article is taken from issue 26. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here

Milan Fashion Week 2018

Port‘s fashion editor picks the best looks from Milan’s Spring Summer 2019 show

There was as much talk about the mosquitos as there was about fashion this year in Milan, which suggests the agenda and collections were perhaps not as engaging as they have been. Yet, as a relative newcomer to the Milan schedule, I still got my kicks, with Neil Barrett and Ermenegildo Zegna being particular favourites. For me, these two shows are up in the highlights of season that, in Milan, was characterised by the use of yellow, a sophisticated backlash to street-wear, and Zegna’s ‘new suit’.

Neil Barrett – LOOK 26

A pioneer of sports-luxe and the go-to for directional tailoring, Neil Barrett this season moved away from his predominately monochrome shows of the past to explore ‘Sea/Flowers’ in a precise collection that was punchy with yellow and print. The colour play was apparent from the start as guests entered the space through yellow rubber strips hung from the ceiling, diffusing the light in the industrial space and creating a sensation of being underwater. Florals were managed in a modern and masculine way – some printed as if medals and here magnified to create an all over-print on this beautifully laid-back coat. 

PRADA – LOOK 29 

Taking the mundane and making it desirable, Prada played its card for the reserved rather than the flash-pack this season. Sat on inflatable cubes that were lit with futuristic purple hue, guests saw an army of nerds descend. This zipped knit – reminiscent of retro skiwear and alpine adventures – was paired with the collection’s signature high-waisted belted trousers in vivid yellow and an oversized trapper hat, and perfectly captures Miuccia Prada’s playful exploration of both character and form. 

ZEGNA – LOOK 25 

Blurring the line between sophistication and streetwear, Ermenegildo Zegna reached out to the post-millennials without leaving its core audience behind. Set against the often-overlooked grandeur of Palazzo Mondadori – conceived by Brazilian architect Oscar Nieymar – both collection and setting told the story of how sharpness could be married with functional ease. Alessandro Satori’s cuffed trousers were once again present, paired here with a printed boxy shirt over a hardly-there mesh top, giving the sense of weightlessness that Satori desired. 

GIORGIO ARMANI – LOOK 71

Proving he is a veteran designer who will not be deterred by the banging of the trend drum for streetwear or influencer-friendly clothes, Giorgio Armani delivered a simple yet fluid collection, which was easy to understand and trust. Taking place in the familiar setting of the Armani Silos, on the usual cast of statuesque models, we saw the return of the double-breasted jacket and a perfect wardrobe for modern nomads, including this relaxed ethnic-printed silk shirt and easy to wear board shorts. 

DSQUARED2 – LOOK 32

Maintaining their maverick reputation, the Caten Twins combined an unlikely mix of athleisure, military and undone corsetry to create a collection that felt both very on-trend and very them. Set in industrial warehouse space, with it’s ominous red-light runway, it were as if we had been transported to the heart of clubland in some dystopian future, watching the club kids walk by in their heavily layered attire. More subtle looks such as this oversized track-top and pants in heritage checks (which would usually be reserved for tailoring) with highlighter neon stripes, made it both interesting and wearable. 

New Talent

For years Milan has been resolutely focused on the established fashion houses, with fresh graduates in the city being encouraged to quickly join the most esteemed brand they can find. So it was satisfying to see the capital of luxury fashion begin to offer support for emerging talent through initiatives set up to nurture new designers and their labels. There is a new spirit of youth in the city. 

One such initiative is the Camera Nazionale della Moda prize, now in it’s fourth year. This season Port sat on the judging panel alongside leading industry figures – including Diesel founder and chairman of OTB Renzo Rossi, Angela Missoni, the creative director of Missoni, and Sara Sozzani Maino, deputy editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia – to decide that Mauro Muzio Medaglia of Accademia Costume and Moda was to receive the mentorship scheme and 10,000€ towards his brand. 

“The prize I received took me by surprise,” Medaglia said after the presentation. “It has been an honour to receive it and I will work to transform this opportunity in a solid base for my future. The support I received from Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana was very important, not only because it helped me in the development of my collection, but also because it is an endorsement for my career.”

Medaglia’s sculptural touch and attention to tailoring swung the decision in his favour. A palette of soft-hues in contrasting fabrics were delicately layered with a finesse the excels the experience of this designer, and the silhouettes, with their exaggerated form, added the final contemporary note to the collection. 

“Growing new talents is part of the mission of the Association and this event has a key role to confer visibility to the work and talent of the future generations,” said president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Carlo Capasa. “This year the CNMI celebrated the 4th edition of Milano Moda Graduate and had the privilege to open the Men’s Fashion Week. With this, we wanted to underline the importance of supporting new talents, promoting the creativity and capacity of the most merit-worthy students in the Italian fashion schools that are the future of fashion. The event fulfils the CNMI’s desire to stimulate a dialogue between the most important luxury brands and the new generation of designers, who bring fresh perspectives to the fashion system. “

Runway illustrations Jayma Sacco