Kodi Smit-McPhee on His Red Carpet Style: “I’m Completely in Love With Surrealism, the Avant-Garde, the Abstract”
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First-time Academy Award nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee, 25, has a style that is difficult to neatly distill, and that’s by design. This awards season, the Power of the Dog actor has been a standout on red carpets, wearing whimsical suits and subtly surprising accents, which wink at the philosophical dreamer that exists within the equally complex actor seen onscreen. Smit-McPhee’s looks — like the slouchy Louis Vuitton suit he wore at the BAFTAs with a Cartier Panthère brooch and the moody, cloud-print Alexander McQueen suit seen at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon — are grounded, yet playful, occupying space somewhere in the gulf between professional seriousness and the enchanting curiosity of youth.
This paradoxical image-making is thanks, in part, to his stylist, Jared Eng, whose experience as the founder of the celebrity news site Just Jared brings the required eye for drama to Smit-McPhee’s more subdued instincts.
“I try to lean away from classic suiting,” Eng tells THR. “I think that a lot of guys in Hollywood tend to just play it super safe. They don’t play with color, they don’t play with shapes, they don’t see outside the norm. There are so many opportunities for menswear to expand and to grow. And I think Kodi is the perfect canvas to do that.
“I try to vary the brand, vary the silhouettes, vary the colors. And I think that’s why people are getting excited about Kodi, because he is able to pull them all off,” continues Eng, who believes that “fashion can really help elevate anyone’s career if they play their cards right.” Case in point of a profile-raising fashion moment: In November, the 6-foot-2 Smit-McPhee walked as one of the celebrity models in Gucci’s blowout show on Hollywood Boulevard alongside Jared Leto and Jodie Turner-Smith.
Smit-McPhee — who grew up in Australia and has been acting since he was 9 — spoke with THR about his red carpet style, why he loves his Oculus VR headset and finding power in his ongoing quest for greater spiritual enlightenment. He’ll next be seen in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, due out June 24, playing musician Jimmie Rodgers.
What’s it been like dressing for awards season? Do you have a favorite outfit you’ve worn on the red carpet recently?
A lot of the looks I’ve done, we’ve put a great deal of thought behind them. Jared and I go through a lot of healthy debates about how daring we want to be. He’s usually the one trying to push the bar, and I’m always kind of making it a bit more contemporary and grounded and I think more acceptable for my field of work. You don’t want to just go out the gate swinging, especially as an actor being at events with your peers. You don’t want to seem like you’re going balls to the wall with fashion and trying to outshine everyone. I think you need to also have a sense of humility when you’re trying to make a statement. In a way, we level each other out in that sense. The awards season has been nuts, but it’s always a really cool opportunity to show people what I’m about in terms of my fashion. I feel like you can say so much beyond words.
How did you and your stylist meet and begin collaborating?
We met years and years ago. But I would say we really started to collaborate more recently, within the past three years. I was going to a Comic-Con event [in 2019 to promote Dark Phoenix] and he casually asked me what I was wearing. I hadn’t really thought about it, I was just going to show up and be present with the press. I hadn’t worked with a stylist for a while, and he told me he was trying to take on a new endeavor moving into fashion, as he was passionate about it. And so I respected that. It’s very brave to go from one industry to another. So he got me some looks from his closet that day. And it worked out.
How do you define your personal style? What are you drawn to?
I’m completely in love with surrealism, the avant-garde, the abstract. I have been ever since I could walk and talk, maybe even before. I’ve had such vivid memories of dreams throughout my life and have been very conscious in the dream state and the kind of abstract world that it is; it’s quite psychedelic. It’s made me a very curious person, and it’s made me study various forms of art, spirituality and philosophy. I feel like I want to resemble that within who I am, and I want to represent that — but mainly with imagery, through symbolism. And fashion is that: something that doesn’t have to be defined. I have to be completely aware of my brand and how I represent myself as Kodi Smit-McPhee the actor and how the world sees me. They might not be aware that I’m infatuated with Salvador Dalí and symbolism and art; I think we have to invite people into that side of me.
Who are some of your style icons?
I look up to a lot of rappers’ fashion: I love Trippie Redd, Playboi Carti. I love trendsetters. I love watching them carve new trends. I feel like Kanye [West] does that, I like what Kid Cudi is always doing, I like A$AP Rocky. Each one of these rappers seems to have their own kind of subculture, and they bring people up with them that end up being really influential. I actually get a lot of my passion for it all from the rap industry.
What’s the last thing you bought and loved?
I got the larger iPad Pro specifically because I wanted to hone in on my artistry skills. I used to mess around and paint and stuff like that, but I really hate the cleanup process. And I guess since the world is moving into being more comfortable with monetizing and capitalizing on digital art, I thought it would be a good time. I feel like buying it will also pressure me to make sure I utilize it.
You also are a musician and have posted music to YouTube and SoundCloud. What appeals to you about making music?
I feel like music is something that really refreshes my acting palette. I can come home from a day of work — and you would think I wouldn’t want to go near anything creative after a 16-hour day — but when I do music, whether it’s production or writing or playing guitar, it’s just kind of using another side of my brain.
Is there anything else you’ve discovered recently that you’d recommend?
I’ve got this virtual reality Oculus Quest 2, and that’s pretty trippy. It’s scary but also really positive. I haven’t dabbled with any artistic sides of it yet, but I do know that you can create 3D art within it. I love the idea that you can hook it up to a computer and you could virtually be in a room, chopping up production, doing music or editing. I think there’s just a whole world that’s about to open up. And hopefully it just continues to get better, the tech, because it gets a little heavy and hurts your neck after a while. But watching movies on that is crazy. You can watch a movie as if you’re in the cinema. Mainly I just play ping-pong on it. I think it’s amazing.
Do you have any favorite places to visit?
I definitely love New Zealand. I’ve shot two movies there now. And it feels like it’s got to be one of the most untouched places in the world. The nature is just monstrous, it’s huge.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’m addicted to cars. I go on tangents of just watching endless videos of the next car I should buy. And that’s just because I’ve loved cars, even before I did acting. I collected toy cars, Hot Wheels. It’s just something that always gives me a lot of peace and clarity. And again, much like music, it puts me in a kind of meditative state, where I can be relaxed or can be thrilled. And I just forget about the world, I forget about any kind of things that are obscuring my clarity.
Do you collect anything?
I used to. I think at the end of the day, anything that we carry with us and we can give power is really just our belief in that external thing that is giving us an internalized power. So I just see the power of belief as the thing that I should hold closer than anything.
Do you have a favorite book?
One book that I’ve always held close to me and always rings true is Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I’ve had so many copies because I’ll buy it, it’ll become aged and weathered, or I’ll find someone across my journey that I give it away to, and I buy another one when the time comes. It reinvents the way you read a book, too, because it’s just a real artsy kind of experience.
You sound like such a student, but also someone with much to teach. Is there a piece of advice you’ve gotten that you’d share?
One quote that’s nice from Be Here Now is, “My thinking mind is a perfect servant and a lousy master.”
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the March 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
source : https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lifestyle/style/kodi-smit-mcphee-red-carpet-style-oscars-1235114885/