‘Appearances do matter,’ concedes Riz Ahmed. ‘But I don’t think that means we have to give a shit about them.’ It’s a fitting sentiment from the British actor and musician, who is a curious mixture of Hollywood leading man and London MC. Here, Ahmed talks about the music scene that shaped him and the mix of cultures that informs his outlook on the world. Photography by Sharif Hamza. Styling by Julie Ragolia.
I think now is a time for creators and designers to really lean into the uniqueness of their vision if they want to stand out and that’s what people want as well, they want to express themselves in a unique way. In the UK, we have this transatlantic style but we’re also part of the European continent, no matter how much we try and deny it.’ Top and above: suit by DSquared2, T-shirt by Comme des Garçons Shirt from Browns, shoes by AMI Alexandre Mattiussi and watch by Bell & Ross.
I guess it’s something that, as I develop my own music and my own way of developing myself musically, has become more important to me. I look increasingly to Kuali music, Pakistani music and Indian music. So I have found that my own expression, in terms of music and fashion, is a mix of all those styles.’ Above: sweater by Jil Sander from Browns.
Growing up in the early to mid-1990s, listening to rap music… that was my first big exposure to how intricately intertwined fashion and music can be. Particularly with garage music: it really leaned into designer fashion with the Moschino prints, the V2 Versace stuff and Iceberg History sweatshirts. The music was aspirational, bright, colourful, unapologetic – it was in your face. But it sounded sleek and sexy and kind of expensive sounding, and that’s what the fashion mirrored.’ Above: jacket by By Walid, T-shirt by Comme des Garçons Shirt, trousers by Bed J.W. Ford and shoes (just seen) by AMI Alexandre Mattiussi.
London is a mix of lots of different cultures and lots of different references. And to some extent, I think the mixed-up way I dress is deliberate. I don’t like to be pinned down and put into one box, so that someone can say: “OK, that’s who that person is.” Clothes are a really important way of signaling who we are, and if there’s a signal I want to send out then I want it to be a scrambled signal – one that’s hard to read.’ Above: jacket by By Walid, as before.
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