By now, you’ve probably seen Russell T Davies’ brilliantly devastating It’s A Sin. If you haven’t, we encourage you stop what you’re doing right this second and stick it on immediately.
The five-part series, which follows a group of queer London teenagers during the 1980s and 1990s when the HIV/Aids pandemic was at full steam, merges a stellar cast of veteran British actors including Keeley Hawes and Stephen Fry with a wave of up-and-coming young talents.
One of the most gifted of these is Omari Douglas, who plays the newly out-and-proud Roscoe Babatunde. It’s A Sin is Douglas’ first on-screen job since having become an on-stage fixture, with his most recent role being in Emma Rice’s Wise Children at South London’s Old Vic.
Watching It’s A Sin, in addition to his performance we were mostly mesmerised by Douglas’ character’s glorious style, which is an all-out celebration of fine-gauge sweater vests and high-waisted acid-wash jeans.
We sat down with the actor to find out what he thought of Roscoe’s sexed-up wardrobe, who his own style icons are and how he manages to look so good pretty much all the time.
Roscoe shows a lot of skin. I spent a lot of my time feeling extremely cold. There’s a punk influence in what Roscoe is doing – the chains, chokers, barely there outfits. It’s symbolic of his coming out. Full credit goes to Ian Fulcher, the show’s costume designer, who is a genius. There were these steel-capped black boots, which you don’t really see on TV, and a pair of cowboy boots, which I loved. Roscoe moves in different circles to his peers and so I got to wear a suit, but before I knew it, I [was] back in string vests and chains.
My own style straddles a lot of different eras. I love the style of the 1960s and 1970s. I love big collars and flares. Equally, there’s stuff in my wardrobe that is just simple. Cos is my go-to high street brand. It’s probably the only one I shop at actually. I love the lines and the blockiness of the clothes. I am quite slim and rather than shy away from this, I love accentuating the long lines of my body with high-waisted, elongated trousers. I love showing it off, to be honest.
Any MGM musical between 1930 and 1960 gets me excited, style-wise. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire – I’d love to steal their wardrobes. They’re dancers as well, so there’s a lot of that free-flowing tailoring and high-waisted trousers.
I admire the fashion from back in the day more than today. James Baldwin had that laid-back, elegant thing going on. Grace Jones just got it right every time.
Malik Sadibé is my surprise style icon. He was a Malian photographer whose work I really admire. All the people he’d photographed during those decades had this amazing Western African style. There were these high-waisted trousers that flared and shirts with big collars and defined silhouettes.
I do think A$AP rocky dresses well. He rocks everything he’s wearing and doesn’t seem to care what anybody thinks. His hair is major too. Lil Nas X is great too and he’s really pushing it. I love that there’s an element of futurism with his style, even those cowboy-themed looks.
I love thrift shops. Before I did this job I was doing a lot of touring, working with theatre companies which took me to a different city every week. I’d spend a lot of time collecting things from vintage stores. One of the best charity shops is in Hull, would you believe? I got this amazing Missoni knitted jumper in there. Edinburgh and Brighton are great too.
I just don’t have enough coats. Sometimes I will make sacrifices regardless of the weather. I’m trying to get better at wearing appropriate coats. I’m not very good with wet weather.
My style has organically led me to be more sustainable. I don’t buy a lot of clothes and the vintage stuff I’ve got I’ve had for well over five years. I love to just reinvent the stuff I have. One of my favourite things I have is a vest from Cos which is made out of paper. I’m bowled over by what we can make things from these days. I think I will always be buying second-hand and going to charity shops. You can find anything and create looks that no one else can.
I’d love to do a 1970s film, a remake maybe. I love the Blaxploitation films from the 1970s. Shaft would be great. I’d love to be cloaked in those big leather trench coats, skin-tight rollnecks and flares.
You’ll never see me in a pair of shorts. I never wear shorts in the summer. I’m just not that person. I’ll wear long trousers instead, which gets a lot of odd looks and remarks when it’s super hot. I just don’t like them. I don’t feel comfortable in them. That said, during lockdown I’ve been wearing them in the house, which hasn’t been too bad. But I don’t think I’ll ever wear them outside.
My go-to chunky trainers are from Bershka. Someone gave them to me and said they thought I’d like them and they’ve become my staple. I also love Camper. Some of the things the brand puts out shock me and then I put them on and I want them. When I’m feeling a little boujee I’ll go to Dover Street Market and treat myself to some new trainers. I got a pair of Camper shoes which were a collaborative design with Kiko Kostadinov. They’re a heavy-duty hiking shoe-trainer hybrid in black with orange panelling and toggles. I love wearing those with heavy and baggy cords.
During lockdown I started to do more research on skincare. I only recently discovered the importance of wearing SPF, which I feel really guilty about. It’s especially key for darker skin tones, so I have started using SPF lotion every day, without fail.
I have a strict grooming regime. I’m a Kiehl’s fiend. For three years it’s been my go-to brand. I use the Clearly Corrective Brightening and Exfoliating Daily Cleanser. Following that, in the day I use the Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, which just gives your skin a great overall colour. My secret weapon is SkinCeuticals’ Silymarin CF Antioxidant Vitamin-C Serum. Not only does it pack a punch of the good stuff, but you also feel taut and line-free after applying and it makes everything feel supple. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate is my nighttime skin saviour: it repairs my skin and its rich lavender scent sends me off into a deep sleep.
I don’t like heavy products and I hate moisturisers. I find them oily and they clog my skin. In the evening I religiously use Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream, as it’s extra-light. At night I also use the Ren Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic. It’s fab. It helps to unclog your skin from those daily aggressors that you don’t even realise have attacked.
Over the past year I’ve been through so many transformations with my facial hair. When we were doing the filming for It’s A Sin, my saving grace was Dermalogica’s Ultra-Calming Barrier Repair. My make-up artist told me about it and it’s great for post-shaving (I was clean-shaven throughout filming) as it’s got soothing lavender in it and it totally eradicates that bumpy feeling.
When we were filming It’s A Sin my hair was so long. I remember getting the job in July 2019 and we started shooting in October, but I got a message in the summer saying, “Do not cut your hair,” so by October it was super long for me. But over the past year my hair has changed a lot. I have sometimes had the sides short, but then there have also been times when I’d let them grow out. I used to use a curling sponge, which you’re told is great for Afro hair, but they’re bad for ripping your hair out, so I had to stop.
I am still learning how to deal with my hair. It’s different person to person, especially with Afro hair. I never use hairsprays or anything like that. I’ve got quite a good regime at the moment, which I think works. I use Afrocenchix products in my hair. They’re based in North London and stocked all over. They do a Natural Moisturising Spray which is made for Afro hair and helps to keep it hydrated. Then I use one of the natural oils, again made for Afro hair, and a styling cream. They’re the essentials.
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