Unlikely Style Icon: Mr Taika Waititi
From left: Mr Taika Waititi in New York, 6 October 2018. Photograph by Mr Lars Niki/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly; Los Angeles, 1 November 2018. Photograph by Shutterstock; at Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, 26 January 2018. Photograph by Mr Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
For a man who spends the bulk of his professional life behind a camera, New Zealand filmmaker Mr Taika Waititi certainly knows how to work it in front of one, too.
While the 43-year-old director of Thor: Ragnarok does make a cameo in that particular Marvel comic-book caper, it’s to provide the voice for an animated rock (as in aggregate stone rather than the hard-edged rhythm-and-blues-derivative music) gladiator called Korg. Still, Mr Waititi also has recognisable parts in his previous efforts Boy, as the father of the titular boy, and Eagle vs Shark. He also takes more of a central role in his vampire send-up What We Do In The Shadows, which, true to its undead form, is set to reemerge as a TV series this spring. But to our mind, Mr Waititi is best noted for what he does in full glare on the red carpet, where he has turned the promotion of his output – and his outfits – into something of an art form.
When it comes to his wardrobe, Mr Waititi embraces just the right balance of smart and silly. He’s no stranger to sharp suiting and eveningwear, as the publicity arm of his job dictates. He’s also not afraid of a pop of colour or a zing of pattern – often within the same ensemble – and his take on streetwear is never pedestrian. For evidence of this, delve into just his Sundance festival-appearance back catalogue, where he has worn a pineapple-print shirt (2014) and a bomber jacket with a huge panther on the back (2016). In 2018, he chose a banana-print shirt with a quilted gilet and a snapback cap worn at an angle so jaunty even the Beastie Boys in their formative “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” pomp might consider recalibrating it. We’re also big fans of the soft pink suiting he wore to last year’s Venice Film Festival, teamed with a solid pair of monk-strap shoes. A bold choice, certainly – especially to a screening of Mr Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, a movie so soaked in blood.
Mr Waititi at Avengers: Infinity War film premiere, Los Angeles, 23 April 2018. Photograph by Mr Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock
But what really makes his junket style really standout is that, unlike many of the stars sent out on parade, he’s clearly enjoying himself. Not just that but happily chomping through the sponsorship hoarding.
Indeed, it’s hard to find a photograph of Mr Waititi at a public-facing event where he isn’t grinning, gurning or gyrating for comical effect. It is perhaps for this reason he is something of a poster boy for hitting middle age without letting it grind you down (or at least grinding your way through it). Now in his fifth decade on the planet, he hasn’t lost touch with the wider world, despite welcoming the touch of grey that comes with maturity.
What’s crucial, perhaps, is that Mr Waititi never takes his role – or outfits – too seriously. And at the same time, he pulls off a mustache without even a hint of irony.
Above all, in mixing up the cult and the classic, the straight and the fun, and the behind-the-scenes with the front-and-centre, Mr Waititi offers a reminder that we should never become stuck in our ways. Unlike his appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, his look is never set in stone and is all the better for it.
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