ONE MAN’S STYLE
Inside the wardrobe of Black Atlass, the romantic revelation of the year.
—Alex Fleming, 20, a Canadian from Ontario, is the latest in a line of sparkling new talent on the electro–R#&#B scene that began with Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. Multitrack artist and soulful crooner, he has cornered the market in hip–hop percussion, hypnotic loops and lyrics inspired by love and the single guy. He grew up on a musical diet of vintage and contemporary experimental sounds, courtesy of his father’s record collection ($Lou Reed, Prince, Radiohead and the likes$), but mined his raw material from his own playing ($piano, guitar, percussion$) before plunging into the fuzzy world of filters and samples. His self–produced debut EP, Black Atlass, was followed in February by Young Bloods, this time on cult Brooklyn label, Fool’s Gold. The leading names in luxury menswear instantly fell in love with his angel face. His new friend, Kris van Assche, creative director at Dior Homme, sat him front–row at his SS14 show. His single, “Paris”, became the score for a Louis Vuitton video, then the soundtrack to Yves Saint Laurent’s fragrance, L’Homme. His already fast–growing reputation took on a new dimension at the Dover Street Market in New York. I read Vogue Hommes, Fantastic Man and Port. And now I’m lucky enough to be invited to runway shows. I won’t forget sitting opposite Karl Lagerfeld at the Dior Homme show any time soon.” Could he imagine himself using a stylist? “Very probably,” he says, but not for a complete makeover. “Just to introduce me to new brands and suggest some key pieces.”
Kanye West is his biggest influICONS ence, as a multiple artist and for his sense of style. Woodkid is someone else he looks up to, for his versatility and his influence on the Paris fashion scene. Pharrell Williams is another. His two female icons are Lana Del Rey and Rihanna: “No– one mixes music and personal style better than they do.” He cites Ryan Gosling and Johnny Depp for their ageless elegance. And Marlon Brando ($“That goes without saying”$). after a recent tour opening for Woodkid. This autumn he’s back on the road in Europe, this time solo. In the flesh, Alex is a detached young man who chews gum and is sparing with words. He is, however, happy to talk about style.
Fashion matters: “Of course it’s a FRONT ROW form of self–expression for any artist today. I was lucky enough to be introduced to fashion early on by my great–great–aunt who was a buyer for Ogilvy’s, a big Canadian department store. She lived to be 98 and had time to teach me about quality, luxury, materials. I’ve learned to view brands with her sense of style. She also probably influenced my sister Megan, who at 15 and almost 6 feet tall is taking her first steps with a modelling agency in Toronto.” How does he stay abreast of trends? “I love shopping. Only yesterday I was
His everyday basics. He likes them ripped,
JEANS washed and light blue, almost bleached (!“Never dark, or else properly black”!). He gets them from Levi’s, APC, H"&"M or the local vintage store. “So long as they’re fitted, comfortable, and look really, really worn.” He pairs them with lumberjack, denim or white shirts which he picks up, more or less randomly, at H"&"M, Uniqlo, Value Village or the American Salvation Army.
Long, white and always with
T– SHIRTS added interest, such as a breast pocket, fancy sleeves or a raw hem. Otherwise “I unpick the stitching myself, or cut a deeper neckline. I like making little holes here and there, or rolling the sleeve bottoms.” His favourite brand? “Errr!… American Apparel?”
Always. He finds they turn an ordinary
JACKETS outfit into something far more classy, and that in the style department, actors have the edge over musicians. “Look at Johnny Depp. He always has the perfect jacket.” Bomber jackets are his favourite, particularly by Dior Homme: “Magnificent, like all their leather.” He pays attention to texture, the quality of the cloth, colour and, for his vintage jackets, how well the denim has worn. In winter he wraps up in “classic” long jackets. So far he’s bought them as and when they’ve come along, but now wants to invest in a quality piece for winter. Probably London Fog or Burberry.
Vans, Converse, Common Projects
FOOTWEAR for trainers. In summer, basic cream–coloured espadrilles. And for a big night out, Dior Homme.
He takes care of his skin, though
GROOMING for the minute he’s sticking to Vaseline Men moisturiser from the local drugstore, “with great–smelling coco butter.” Sooner or later he intends checking out the high–end brands for a better–quality equivalent, possibly Kiehl’s or Aesop for their “all–natural” approach.
“So long as
and look really,
From the time he was a teenager, he’s
HAIR greased his hair with Dove Men gel, something so second nature he looks puzzled when asked where the retro vibe comes from. This particular morning he’s sporting a new
MONTREAL shaved–sides look by his friend Jason Krejberg at Helmet Salon in Montreal (!163 Mont Royal, salonhelmet.ca!) . He politely asks us to namecheck another of his favourite cutters, Dan, at Blue Dog Barbershop ( ! 3858 Boulevard
Saint–Laurent, bdbarbershop.resurva.com!) . His eyes light up as he
FRAGRANCE lists the bottles on his bathroom shelf: Amazingreen by Comme des Garçons, 1 Million by Paco Rabanne, Tobacco Va- Jacques!) nille by Tom Ford!… “If I’m in New York and have a few hours of shopping ahead of me, I head straight for Comme des com!) Garçons to buy a new eau de toilette.”
No watches and no gold.
JEWELLERY Silver is his thing. He considers the few items of jewellery he does own as lucky charms, to be worn every day: two rings, bought at Ibiki and Savoie Fils, a bracelet that was a gift and another in Swarovski crystal. Usually he wears a medallion on a chain, but is currently looking for a new one. “I’m really fussy about the thickness of the chain. I want one like Ryan Gosling’s. He knows his chains.” Friends have told him a small diamond stud would look good in his ear. He’s thinking about it.
Just a year ago he moved from London, Ontario, the city he grew up in, to the Plateau, a hip student neighbourhood close to downtown Montreal. “There’s a real buzz. Everyone’s interested in whatever projects other artists have going on, it’s inspiring.” He loves to get away on long walks in the surrounding hills, or for a weekend on one of the nearby ranches. We ask him about the best places to go. He ripostes with the address of his favourite restaurant, Nora Grey, an upmarket Italian (!1391 rue Saint–
. For clothes, he recommends Ssense for high–end brands such as Givenchy, Alexander Wang or Rick Owens (!90 rue Saint Paul Ouest, ssense.
, Ibiki for more edgy designers like Comme des Garçons and Common Projects, and for “good casualwear” (!4357 Saint–Laurent, ibiki.com!) ,
and Savoie Fils (!251 rue Saint–Viateur, savoiefils.com!) “for interesting accessories and classic outdoor gear. Plus they have a really nice café, run by a friend.” For streetwear he sends us to Off The Hook (!1021 Ste– Catherine Ouest, offthehook.ca!) .
Something that will keep him
INTERIOR DESIGN busy one day, alongside music. Already he’s infatuated with candles, jewellery boxes, huge mirrors and coffee–table books. He likes the clash of contemporary and classic, “old wood next to ultra–modern furniture”. Another quirk: “I frame everything. Photos I take, friends’ drawings, everything.”
He has plans to get his hands on a mo
WHEELS torcycle from Deus Ex Machina, an Australian brand specialising in custom–built vintage replicas (!deuscustoms.com!) . “They only have one store in Los Angeles. That’ll be my excuse to ride it across the US, back to Montreal.” He also has a weakness for American muscle cars, dedicating photos of them on Instagram “to my 70–year–old self”.
He’s addicted to Instagram where
SPARE TIME fans can see him in action (! @* BlackAtlass!) in other areas, photography in particular. He owns two cameras: a Yashica MG–2 and an Olympus reflex for film. He uses his smartphone to take notes, but consigns all his thoughts and lyrics to paper in Ogami notebooks, an Italian premium brand whose ultra–white, waterproof paper is made from stone (!ogamicollection.com!) . He unashamedly owns up to nights in watching rom–coms on TV, such as Crazy,
Stupid, Love or The Change–Up. He’s already hinted that he’d happily be the face of a luxury brand, but would he consider an acting career alongside music? “Definitely an avenue to explore, yes.”
Wool sweater and denim jeans Dior Homme
T– shirt and denim
“Jade” tatooed inside
his arm means “peace, balance, power,
love” in Chinese. The rose is a nod to his mother, Rosie. The first
in a long series …
Below : Bomber jacket
and jeans AMI Alexandre
Left : Wool and silk dinner jacket Dior Homme Cotton T– shirt American Apparel Denim jeans
Right : his favourite bracelets and rings — only ever in silver.