Frank Ocean Is a Secret Fashion Nerd

In his famous stealthy style, Frank Ocean released a surprise track over the weekend titled “Chanel.” It was a shock to his fans, but also to those who have always admired his unassuming fashion sense. Unlike the majority of his peers, he’s never really made a song with an overt shout-out to a major fashion brand, save for “Comme Des Garcons,” a song from his 2016 visual album Endless. In the “Chanel” hook, he says, “I see both sides like Chanel, see on both sides like Chanel.” When he does make sporadic public appearances on stage or the red carpet, Ocean doesn’t dress like your average rapper. Despite his inherent sense of style, he’s never been a label name-dropper, nor has he ever really worn so much as a Ralph Lauren Polo logo in front of the paparazzi.

Ocean has been seated front row at only a handful of fashion shows over the last four years, including Christian Dior, Givenchy, Off-White, and just once, Chanel. However, the new song isn’t really about the French fashion house. Some music critics have said it’s about a lover, while others are claiming it’s a reference to bisexuality. But there’s no denying the fact that Ocean is at the very least winking to Chanel, and it’s that same shy, quiet nod to fashion that makes him refreshing.

That said, he’s clearly conflicted about the fashion world overall and has been openly critical of mass consumerism, starting with “Nikes,” the track he released last year on his album, Blonde. The song underscores the perils of capitalism, with Ocean rapping lines like “We only human and it’s humid in these Balmains.” For the video, he wore a head-to-toe embellished Balmain look—another surprise move from the man who generally favors simple white T-shirts in his wardrobe.

At a time when the industry is steeped in logomania, and decked-out rappers are vying for the attention of designers like Raf Simons and Riccardo Tisci, Ocean is a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t care if you’ve seen him hanging out with Karl Lagerfeld or sitting front row at a Chanel show. He just wants to make great music and sometimes, maybe, wear a designer label on the down low, too.

 DEAL MAN

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