Zayn Malik wasn’t always dressed in Versace. Before the sensual-pop, Mind of Mine singer went solo back in March of 2015, the then-One Direction member was better known for his distinct swooped coif than a fully formed individual style. But now, a mere 12 months post 1D-breakup, Malik is a global style sensation in his own right, photographed just as often for his embroidered Valentino duster coats as he is for holding hands with famous model girlfriend, Gigi Hadid.
Billboard spoke to the man behind Malik’s evolving fashion identity, celebrity stylist Jason Rembert, whose clientele includes Rita Ora, and who has been working with Malik since July of last year. Rembert shares their favorite pieces, how Malik has grown since departing the band, and what it was like styling the sexy couple for the “PILLOWTALK” music video (“Gigi is such an amazing person, inside and out”).
What was it like styling Zayn for the first time?
We’ve been working together since the beginning of July, and when my management signed him, they asked me if I’d be interested in styling him. Most of my clients have been women, and usually I can get very dramatic and flamboyant with them, but Zayn is subtler and more toned down. I was really excited to finally style a man.
When you’re pulling pieces for him, what do you usually look for?
Really great silhouettes, fitted pants and dark colors. Duster coats are big for us right now. Bomber jackets, parkers, lots of leather. Zayn feels comfortable in longer pieces and he loves anything vintage, particularly vintage jewelry and leather jackets.
Most people don’t know this, but Zayn is really into art. So when I pull pieces I try to keep that in mind.
In what way does his love of art inform his styling?
We love unique, well-made things. Zayn’s a collector of vintage, and he also wears a lot of pieces that look vintage. For example, Zayn wears a lot of jewelry, and our favorite designers right now are Jennifer Fisher for older-looking pieces, and Foundwell for real, amazing, amazing vintage. Anything we’ve ever needed, Alan [of Foundwell] has found. Vintage Rolexes to vintage Cartier.
The graphic leather jacket he wore for his Mind of Mine album release party in NYC this past month was quite unique.
That was Faith Connxion, and it had the word “faith” splattered in white all over it. The first time he ever wore them was in Milan a few weeks ago when he was photographed in a green army jacket with Gigi, and he took a liking to the brand. So for the party, I went through their lookbook and pulled this jacket, and the minute he put it on he fell in love. We were supposed to change for the party, but he had finished a previous performance in it and he didn’t want to take it off.
You dressed Gigi and Zayn for the “PILLOWTALK” music video, as well as Nicola Peltz and Zayn for his “iT’s YoU” video. What was that like?
Amazing. The director [Bouha Kazmi] had a very clear vision of what he wanted for both [videos]. For “PILLOWTALK” it was more fashion-forward, futuristic and sexy, and that idea lent itself well to Versace. Both Zayn and Gigi mainly wore Versace (which Zayn likes to wear in general), and they looked amazing in it. This was my first time styling Gigi, but she’s an amazing person, inside and out.
Then for “iT’s YoU”, we went a more classic route as opposed to trendy. I pulled from lots of brands that are more 1940s-inspired, so it was more nostalgic and we really took it back. Berluti to Boswell, Andrea Pompillo to Canali. Even brands like Brooks Brothers and Club Monoaco. I loved it because we really got to show Zayn’s range style-wise.
How would you describe Zayn’s style?
Him. It’s very much so him. From the overcoats to the t-shirts, it’s all a collaboration. He doesn’t want to be too high fashion, but wants to be masculine and clean. We talk about the looks, the direction he’s going in, what he’s liking at the moment.
Which is what?
In terms of designers, we’ve got go-to’s: Valentino, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Versace, particularly the Versace Versus collection because it’s really well-made all black clothing. And right now we’re just building on the palette he’s into. Charcoal, slate gray jeans (he doesn’t ever wear actual blue jeans), sick boots because boots are key to his look. I’m obsessed with Guidi boots. And we love Tom Ford and Ksubi t-shirts, sneakers—everything from Nike Airmax 90s to Pumas and Adidas.
Has his style evolved or changed at all since he left One Direction?
I think it’s definitely changed publicly, but he’s always had style. The first time I worked with him he wasn’t as willing to take risks, and now he’s really stepping out of his comfort zone a bit. My favorite piece he’s worn so far is this Valentino coat with embroidered sleeves. And he loved it! As he grows musically, he grows style-wise. And he has such a strong work ethic, he’s going to keep growing.