With award-winning roles in the Ocean’s movie franchise, A Dangerous Method and Black Swan, Vincent Cassel is one of France’s most valuable acting talents. He’s also widely considered an international style icon.
Since he found fame 25 years ago, thanks to his breakthrough role as Vinz in Mathieu Kassovitz’s black and white drama La Haine, he has been consistent with his delivery of ultra-nonchalant Gallic style (today matched with aplomb by his well-dressed other half, actress and model Tina Kunakey).
Arguably France’s best-dressed export since Alain Delon, Cassel has nailed that sartorial no man’s land between smart and casual: he has a penchant for louche Tom Ford two-piece suits, tailored and side-striped sweatpants worn with fitted crewneck sweatshirts and a decent pair of shades (typically by Vuarnet).
Stands to reason, then, that some of the world’s biggest brands want in on the action. He secured the role as the face of Yves Saint Laurent’s La Nuit De l’Homme fragrance campaign in 2008 and he is the face of The Kooples’ latest campaign.
We met with Cassel to find out what style means to him, why he enjoys living in Brazil and why you probably won’t ever see him in a hoodie again…
Style is about confidence. Clothing is all about how you feel in it.
There’s a big difference between iconic and stylish for me. The gents in La Haine aren’t stylish, but they’re iconic. They represent a certain era. Those men became a sign of the times in Paris.
I’m lazy with my fashion. I go with the flow. I spend so much time in Brazil now that a laid-back beachside vibe has been introduced to my general, everyday wardrobe. I didn’t expect that.
I dress differently depending on where I am in the world. In cold places, like London and Paris, I will wear black, navy and grey. People in those places dress like that too I’ve realised, which I never really had before. But in Brazil everything is colourful. You’ve got bright orange accents on your shoes and yellow touches on your shirt. It works and it’s fun.
During lockdown I entered a sort of cocoon. It had me dressing with cosiness in mind, so cotton shorts and T-shirts have been my go-to recently.
I’ve changed how I dress organically. On a few occasions throughout my life, for example ten or 15 years ago, I began to think this doesn’t work anymore. I don’t wear as many hoodies as I used to. I’m not as young anymore – they’re for young people. In fact, you’ll probably never see me in one off-screen again.
I tend to wear things that my grandfather would wear. I really prefer to go for something classic. The 1940s and 1950s style really works for me: short-sleeved shirts, polos shirts, straight lines and wider trousers.
I don’t really do style icons as such. I’m not a fan of people. The 1940s, as an era, works for me – the style that was present in the States, Italy and France. I guess you could say figures such as Fred Astaire and Marcello Mastroianni stand out to me, if any. I like the old-school era.
I was hooked on hip-hop as a kid. That influenced me. When I was 17 I would wear these big baggy 1940s-style suits with the latest Pumas trainer with fat laces – that was my vibe. My jumping from jazz to hip-hop was extremely evident.
Fashion is a constant cycle. I don’t see anything new. I see very expensive brands using what was forbidden in nightclubs 30 or 40 years ago. Baggy pants, sweatshirts and chunky sneakers are now being presented at €2,000. That’s mad to me.
I can’t say I’d never wear anything, because of my job. Today I might hate it, but tomorrow I might have to wear it to get into character. If clothes fit the character and the story, then I’m ready to do anything. If clothing allows me to get into the character’s head more and bolsters my confidence within that role, the better I will feel.
I’m sure my style is going to change. It’s evolving constantly. You learn what fits you and what doesn’t in terms of material and draping.
The Ocean’s movies are peak style. There are some excellent Brioni suits in those films. That’s my kind of style.
Unisex clothing is great. Why not? In a way, it’s always been happening. Coco Chanel was aware of unisex dressing when she did the first tailleur – she was inspired by men’s suits. It’s very common. My wife and daughters steal my coats all the time.
The Kooples collection allowed me to work with my wife in confinement. It was a great way to have fun together. The campaign taught me how my wife wants me to dress. We put together a wardrobe for men that can and should be stolen by the wife. Seeing what Tina did for the collection, the way she put looks together, has influenced how I dress today.
When my wife reminds me to get on top of my grooming regime, I am on it. It will last a few days, but then I’ll fall back into my normal ways. I’m not so good at keeping on top of it. I should really be using cleansers and moisturisers, but I honestly forget.
I have changed my hair around 200 times. I’ve done everything possible with it: long to short to bald. Normally when I finish a movie I will shave my head, go on vacation and I won’t shoot until it grows back again. It gets me out of the previous character, mentally and physically. It allows me to feel free. We have less and less time nowadays so it’s important to use those pauses as much as possible. Shaving my head allows that.
I am on top of my physical activity. I find solace in physical exercise. Anything by the sea is my preference, but if I’m stuck in the city then the gym works just as well. Keep on sweating, I say – it’s beneficial for the mind.
The Kooples “Shared Wardrobe” collection will be out mid-March at kooples.com
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