Style Arc: André 3000
André 3000. André Benjamin. Possum Jenkins.
The man has gone by many names and worn many hats over the years (both figuratively and literally). And now that he’s reuniting with his better rap half to kick off Outkast’s long-awaited reunion tour this weekend at Coachella, we though it prudent to take an analytical eye to the man who has served as the group’s stylistic compass over the past 20 years (yes, really), six albums and countless suspenders.
We map the spectacularly singular style arc of the one and only André 3000.
Circa Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik: Sure, the music was already different-sounding—funkier, more nuanced than the gangster rap of the time—but the guys were just slightly cracking the rap mold before totally breaking it. As can be seen by the boilerplate jerseys and ball caps here.
Circa ATLiens: The music started getting more outer-spacey and so did André’s dress. This is what Southern rapping Martians must look like.
Circa Aquemini: More proof positive that André’s style and the stylistic direction of Outkast’s music were one and the same.
Circa Stankonia: The album sounded like a Wonka-esque sugar-fueled acid trip through Atlanta—in other words: awesome. And here was its ringleader.
Circa Speakerboxxx/The Love Below: It would seem that this was the turning point for André’s style, toward a more traditional look—the outlandishness of Stankonia is still present in the bright colors and hairstyle, but you can see he’s begun embracing the hallmarks of the golden age of menswear: suspenders, high-waisted trousers, cardigans, The Ed Sullivan Show…
Circa Idlewild: Now he’s fully embraced 1930s menswear. And his Southern dandy roots.
Circa Benjamin Bixby: André launches his clothing line culled from the football era of 1935. His dapperness continues to rise toward almost-iconic levels.
Circa Now: André’s present-day look has settled somewhere between his outlandish Martian-Wonka beginnings and his Southern gentlemanliness—which, as it turns out, looks a lot like a 21st Century version of his sonic soul mate and latest movie role, Jimi Hendrix.
- — Najib Benouar