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Style Icon: Basquiat

By Libby Banks, 16 April 2015

From Brooklyn street tagger of no fixed abode to prodigal son of the 80s New York art scene, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s elegant style seems to exist outside of space and time. In his short 27-year life he dated Madonna, buddied up with Andy Warhol, modelled for Comme des Garçons, DJed in a Blondie video­ and created some of the most powerful political art of the last century. 

style icon: basquiat

Picture: Getty


Today, Basquiat’s art exchanges hands for eye-watering sums and high-rolling collectors include Jay Z and Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s also been the subject of several films, including The Radiant Child (2010), a brilliant documentary featuring interviews with Jean-Michel by his friend Tamra Davis.


But let’s talk style. He was legendary for painting in designer suits – treating them like overalls – and his signature bunched dreads make his silhouette unmistakable. Just like his art, Basquiat unapologetically mixed colour and graphics, and he made old-school tweeds, pinstripes and three-piece suits totally his own.


What he mastered was a high-low, haute-thrift-shop style – he wore suits with sneakers, and could make a grey marl sweatshirt and baggy pants look impeccable. Crucial to his look were roughed-up three-piece suits, plimsolls, graphic T-shirts, rounded sunglasses and a decent amount of splattered paint. We think Jean-Michel Basquiat’s fondness for playing with proportions, with oversized and longline pieces mixed with slimmer cuts, feels right for this summer. In fact, in today’s cut-and-paste society, his style is more relevant than ever.