Harry Styles is all dressed up with nowhere to go for Vogue’s December cover. The first-ever man to cover Vogue solo, Styles had his 2020 Love on Tour grounded due to COVID-19, but he still found a way to perform for a crowd. At his photo shoot atop a lush English hilltop, Styles broke out the Fender acoustic and did an impromptu performance of “Cherry” from Fine Line for those in attendance. The performance lives on in a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot. Styles poses wearing ball gowns, luxurious coats, and piles of rings, followed closely by photographer Tyler Mitchell, the 25-year-old who became the first African American to shoot a Vogue cover in 2018. Whether it’s in his DIY’d Alain de Botton hoodie or a custom ensemble from designer Harris Reed, Styles is keen to dress up, always has been, even though his initial reaction to stylist Harry Lambert suggesting flared pants was like, “Flares? That’s fucking crazy,” he recalled. Look at him now. “The people that I looked up to in music — Prince and David Bowie and Elvis and Freddie Mercury and Elton John — they’re such showmen,” he explained to Vogue. “As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I’ll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don’t feel crazy wearing it. I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it’s like a superhero outfit.”
Styles recognizes the power of self-expression beyond society’s outdated gender norms. “When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play,” he continued. “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything — anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes.” Above, watch Styles have the time of his life playing dress-up with Vogue.