A well-dressed man is a correctly dressed man,” John Legend’s longtime stylist tells Billboard.
David Thomas, who has styled Lionel Richie, Calvin Harris, and Boy George, knows exactly what works for Legend, after working with the singer since 2009. “Simple and elegant,” says Thomas of John’s Oscar look — a Paul Smith tuxedo, accessorized by Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, David Yurman cufflinks, a satin Tom Ford bow tie and a Bulgari watch. Thomas spoke to Billboard exclusively about how the outfit came together and why it’s important to keep wife Chrissy Teigen’s look in mind too.
What was it about this tux that made sense for you and John?
John’s really open to anything, so really it’s about what looks best. And more importantly for anybody what feels the best. I think that it’s more important how they feel when they put it on than where it’s from. This is the one he was feeling. Just like if you were getting dressed up for a special event or going out on a Saturday night, you know you’re loving your outfit and it’s giving you that little extra whatever it is, that little click, you feel special. So in this instance we tried on a lot of tuxedos and this was the one that worked the best and made him feel the best.
Was there an inspiration behind the look?
For the Oscars, we tend to be quite traditional, and quite respectful of the event. So I don’t think that the Oscars is a place, for men anyway, to kind of experiment. It’s a black-tie event — there’s no gimmicks, it’s just about making John look the most handsome he can, and feeling the best he can. So it’s about finding the best tuxedo, a beautiful fabric, and making sure it’s tailored to perfection.
Why no second look for the evening?
We really only change if he’s going to be doing something different. So, for example, if he was going to perform we would consider changing because we would dress appropriately for the performance. To go up and present an award as a guy, I think it’s very unnecessary to change, it’s not required at all.
When did you start thinking about what John would wear? And when did you start pulling the items?
I guess I started thinking about it in my head before Christmas. I might remind myself of what we’ve done in the past. And then I’ll build up a little kind of board of all the events we’ve done, because really Oscars is the last one of the awards season. Friday, [Feb.] 19th was our first Oscar fitting. That’s when we decided [on] the outfit, and then there was a second fitting to make sure that the tailoring was absolutely fitting or in case we wanted to change anything. And if we wanted to, we could have changed the whole look, but we didn’t.
What designers generally look best on him?
He’s really great in Gucci, he’s really good in Dolce. Sometimes he looks great in Prada, we wear Lanvin. He really does wear a lot of different things and it depends what we’re doing. I think the thing about John is that he doesn’t just have one look. He’ll dress accordingly to what he’s doing. So if he’s singing at the Super Bowl he’ll be smart casual, or if he’s performing with The Roots he’ll be kind of more street. So we have the freedom to just do whatever looks best, whatever feels right, whatever is most appropriate, and it can come from anywhere.
What is your preference for accessories on the red carpet?
For guys, I like diamonds and I like gold. I’ve been styling quite a while and it’s quite hard to find something that is going to set yourself apart without looking gimmicky, so with that in mind, I’ve created my own diamond jewelry collection [GENTLEMAN David Thomas X JBH] which is diamond pins and things that are kind of quite subtle that you can wear on a tuxedo. I was kind of just creating what I couldn’t find.
What accessories work best with John?
A nice watch is always a good thing on a man. Cufflinks, but I like to keep it very simple, nothing gimmicky — I like to keep it quite classic.
Does John take into consideration what Chrissy is wearing as he’s wardrobing too?
Absolutely. He’s very respectful of Chrissy and sometimes we do a fitting at the same time, so her team will be there and my team will be there with John and Chrissy. Sometimes because of their schedules that’s not entirely possible but we’ll keep them in the loop and swap pictures and I would say that John’s really good like that. And we want it to work as a couple, I mean we’re different teams but I think it’s lovely for John and Chrissy that they’re in the world, are a married couple and are very close. We work definitely keeping that in mind.
See below for a full size photo of John Legend below.