At 74, Sir Elton John Is Giving Harry Styles a Run for His Money
Welcome to Thirstory, where we whet your appetite with pages from the Interview archive that were almost too hot to print. Can you feel the love today? We’re unpacking our feather boas, sequined jumpsuits, and our January 1998 cover feature starring Sir Elton John on the occasion of his 74th birthday.
At the Grammy Awards, mouths were agape when Harry Styles sashayed across the stage in a custom Gucci ensemble that consisted of a leather bell-bottomed suit and flossy mint boa. Two minutes into his performance, drool trickled down our faces as the “Watermelon Sugar” singer stripped the feathered accessory off his neck, only to reveal a bare chest as he began to gyrate a hip-thrusting number. With his choreo, the gay heavens parted and a rainbow burst through screens around the globe—an iconic moment not only in Styles’ musical career, but a performance that solidified him as the sartorial heir to Sir Elton John. As Harry Lambert, the performer’s stylist, told Vogue about the award show wardrobe, they “wanted to do something that felt British and eccentric. A little bit rock ‘n’ roll and a little bit camp.” And what figure embodies those attributes better than the Rocket Man himself?
While John wasn’t the only artist to don a boa (Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and David Bowie were all fans of feathers), the parallel between the “Crocodile Rock” singer and Styles’ fashion trajectories is palpable. For one, both musicians received their very first Grammy nods with their second albums (John with his eponymous record in 1970, Styles with Fine Line in 2020). It was also with their sophomore records that each singer’s fashion sense took a literal curve. John, in the 1970s, and Harry, more recently, took a liking to platform heels, billowy trousers, and fanciful dresses.
As the years went on, Sir Elton’s style became more whimsical—famously sporting sequined jumpsuits, encrusted headpieces, and wigs that would make Marie Antoinette blush. John, who turns 74 today, is still as fabulously flamboyant, and though Styles opts for more demure pearl necklaces and Peter Pan collars, one can’t help but wonder if history will soon repeat itself. If Grammy night is any indication, here’s hoping.