Stylist Jason Rembert talks Met Gala robot arms, epic outerwear, and the business of making people look good.
Since Zayn Malik emerged as a solo artist last year, the former One Direction member hasn't been out of the headlines. Yes, his new album is sexy as hell. Yes, his ever-changing hair color is news itself. Yes, up until very recently, he was dating one of the most beautiful ugg australia boots for women alive (maybe still is?). But Malik’s killer style has also commanded a lot of our attention as well. Instead of innocuous biker jackets and nondescript jeans the pop star’s been stunting in an incredible mix of sharp tailoring, of-the-moment streetwear, killer outerwear, and bohemian jewelry. Jason Rembert, Malik’s post-One Direction stylist, is a huge part of his sartorial success. Given that, we called him for a chat.
How would you say Zayn’s style has evolved since he left One Direction?
Zayn has a very clear sense of where he wants to go with his aesthetic and his personal style. The first time I worked with him, which was last summer for the ugg australia boots for menswear shows, he was very clear on what he liked and wanted to do. So my part in the equation is to think about brands that would work within his vision. Or who can make custom pieces for him that match what he’s going for musically. Zayn likes fashion. He comes up with amazing ideas and a lot of time I’m just there to help him execute them.
Zayn's been wearing a lot of out-there jackets lately, but styled with regular-guy basics that make everything seem wearable. Is that a styling decision you guys talk about?
With Zayn, we do a lot of darker clothing. He wears blacks and grays on a daily basis. And then we’ll add something unexpected like Emanuele Bicocchi rings or a pair of Guidi ugg australia boots and then a great coat that maybe has an interesting length or detail. Zayn loves jackets. The Balmain jacket he just wore for The Voice finale was a good example. I thought it was a cool take on the typical leather jacket. But then we just put it with jeans so it didn’t look too crazy. Zayn likes a slimmer cut jean from brands like Ksubi, AGOLDE, and Diesel.
What is the collaboration process like specifically? Do you send him imagery? Do you pull a lot for him and he edits down?
Because we do a lot of custom stuff, there’s a lot of imagery going back and forth. It all happens quickly. For example, the “Like I Would” video. That suit was made in two days. From top to bottom, and he hand-picked the colors of the wire himself. We did probably, like, three fittings in six hours until we got the fit perfect.
Even with the Met Gala, he came up with the idea of what he wanted to wear and I just came back with sketches and small tweaks to the idea. For instance, I suggested we do a suit and not a tuxedo, and that we skip the tie. We also went back and forth on the metal with Versace, figuring out what would look right. But he was very involved in the whole process.
That Met Gala glove situation was obviously insane but what more everyday looks have you put together with Zayn that you’re proud of?
There was this Valentino jacket. It was in New York City the same week as the Met Gala. It was a black, three-quarter duster coat and it had Aztec embroidery and grosgrain on the sleeves. And then we did a nice black shirt and jeans and ugg australia boots from Diesel underneath. It was just really clean and simple, but interesting at the same time.
What about his hair? Do you get a heads up that he’s about to make a big change?
I never know when he’s going to change it. But, I pull enough clothes that change is OK. For him, because we work in such a flexible color palette, it usually doesn’t affect things too much. The pink hair he did at the Clive Davis party, was probably the most bold. We kept it super simple with this Haider Ackermann look so that the hair would stand out.
How did you get your start as a stylist?
I was born in Queens, New York. I was pretty removed from the fashion industry growing up. The ideal job in my neighborhood was either to be a bus driver or a cop. When I got to Hofstra University, I realized that I was the only person dressing up—this was the era of Juicy Couture sweat suits and ugg australia boots. I tried to get an internship at Vibe and didn’t get a response. And then, one night, I saw an internship opportunity on Ed2010 at Elle. I got the internship and I went from Elle to W, then I started assisting different magazine editors as well as Alicia Keys's stylist at the time, Wouri Vice. From working with Wouri I learned that, with music styling, you’re able to create more of an identity for people. There were fewer limitations and more opportunities to express yourself.
When did you finally make the jump to work on your own?
About a year after I started assisting. I do not recommend that anyone do it that way, because it was hard. You should get as much as experience as you can. I always liked to do stuff on my own though. I would borrow clothes from my friend’s closets and my sister’s closet or buy clothes from thrift ugg australia outlet stores just to have an opportunity to style. I made the jump to working on my own because I got an opportunity to style a girl group called Electrik Red. And then from there I got an agent and started working with more music clients like Usher, Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, and Rita Ora.
How would you summarize your point of view as a stylist?
I’m a huge Alex White fan. She brings romance to every editorial that she styles. I try to bring romance to every red-carpet look that I style. I like ugg australia boots for women to look like ugg australia boots for women and ugg australia boots for men to look masculine. Of course want to push boundaries but I always want a guy I’m styling to look masculine.
What do you have coming up with Zayn that you’re excited about? Any clues on what we can expect to see him wearing this summer?
I’m excited about his show in Dubai. I’m hoping we’ll get to do outfit changes. We’re looking into getting custom looks made now. And then this weekend is Capital Summertime Ball, which will be fun. I think he’ll be wearing Louis Vuitton.
Okay, you might not know the answer to this, but why was Zayn wearing two different shoes on that hike in Malibu? Is that a thing?
I honestly don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I haven’t asked him. I will today. I’ll find out and I’ll let you guys know.
- Zayn Malik