Interview: Celebrity Stylist Matthew Henson on the Importance of Denim Statement Pieces

Interview: Celebrity Stylist Matthew Henson on the Importance of Denim Statement Pieces

Fashion editor and stylist breaks down how he got into denim, his favorite pieces, and the perfect pieces to pair with the fabric for BET and The Coveteur.

PUBLISHED ON : JULY 20, 2016 / 04:56 PM

There's no denying it: Matthew Henson gives off serious Fashion Gawd vibes. Infamously known as A$AP Rocky's right-hand man when it comes to anything fashion related (Henson and the Dior-wearing rapper first crossed paths at a Complex magazine photo shoot, where he worked as fashion director until recently), Henson could give any celebrity a run for his money when it comes to closets.

Boasting highly sought-after pieces such as one-of-a-kind Maison Martin Margiela jeans and exclusive Raf Simmons x Sterling Ruby bottoms, we will remember Henson’s personal wardrobe for being home to some the chicest and dopest denim pieces we have ever seen in any closet — period. An expert at balancing street wear brands with coveted designer labels, we were most impressed by Matthew's collection of emerging designers — Loewe, J.W. Anderson and Off-White to name a few.

We sat down with Henson and had him share his opinion about the blank canvas that is denim, the stories behind a few of his statement pieces and his favorite denim moments in hip-hop culture.

For more, head to The Coveteur to see the rest of this closet and hear more about his career, style and life. 

BET: How would you describe your overall style?
Matthew Henson: It is pretty much all over the place and it is pretty emotionally driven. It depends on where I’m going or where in the world I am. I love all different types of clothes and my closet definitely reflects that. It truly is driven by where I’m going.

When would you say your love for denim began?
More recently. I grew up on the shore in New Jersey, so I was always in shorts, and in the winter I wore normal pants such as khakis. As I got older, I started to appreciate denim for what it is. Through my work as a stylist, I have learned all the ins and outs of denim.

How often do you wear denim and how important is it in your wardrobe?
I don’t wear denim as much as I should, but when I do wear it, it is primary black denim. When I do wear light-wash denim, I love vintage Levi’s that are washed and distressed because they have a lot of character.

How important would you say denim is in your work as a stylist?
Denim is a key component to the building of a lot of great outfits. A lot of the guys I work with like slim black jeans. They look really great and you can wear them with suits, leather jackets and bombers. They (black denim pants) are a great everyday staple that you should definitely have in your closet.

What would you say is your favorite style of jean and why?
It’s a tie between a Levi's 501, which is very ripped, and a very slim jet-black jean because they work for every day. You can wear them with your suit blazers, leather jackets, bomber jackets, white tees, and you’ll look like a rock star either way. I also love vintage Levi’s. There are a lot of places that now re-make them by modernizing the fit, slimming out the leg, tapering the bottom, but they still keep the same character. You get this amazing jean that has this whole history and has a ton of character, but fits better to today’s guy.

What is your favorite denim moment in hip-hop culture?
I have a few favorites. One would be all of the Karl Kani ads that featured rappers. I love the one with Tupac and the one with Nas. It was a moment in time where rappers really started caring about the brands they wore. Karl Kani was a great partner in producing these iconic photos. Aaliyah and her Tommy Hilfiger moment is also one of my favorites. She was a girl that came out of nowhere who had a cute, very tomboy-ish look. When she came out with her Tommy Hilfiger overalls and her baggy jeans, she let girls know that it was OK to be themselves, and not to worry about pressing guys so much.

What are your favorite denim pieces in your closet?
My favorite denim pieces are statement pieces, everything has a pop or story behind it. My first piece would be this denim jacket by Loewe. Loewe is one of my favorite brands started by J.W Anderson, who is one of the best and most talented designers right now. It has this crazy hand-painted tron/anime print, which separates it from most of the denim jackets in the market right now. It is like a piece of wearable art. (Side note: you won't find this anywhere, so don’t even look for it.)

This other piece is a grail and collector piece; it’s a leopard-print denim jacket from Supreme. I love rocking it with all black and hoodies because if you try to do too much with it, it looks crazy, but it is one of my favorite pieces.

I also have these awesome, awesome, awesome, Margiela Artisental Collection originals. (You also can’t find these anywhere.) It is basically a bi-color jean that is two pairs of jean in one. I’ve also got this wild Stussy jacket. Yellow salvage denim, don’t ask me how they did it, I just have it.

For everyday regular-degular wear, I love black jeans. I wear a ton of black and navy so I have a lot of black jeans that are in my arsenal. These are very special, Raf Simons x Sterling Ruby collectors; they’ve got this crazy elastic band on the back of the leg, which makes it very different than other jeans.

And these, my favorite, Dior Homme black selvage jeans. These look like pure sex. (They don’t look like sex on me, but I’m sure they look like sex on some rock star.) They’re my favorite jeans, slim fit, they look great, and they make me look skinnier, which is always great.

What would you say is your go-to denim look?
Take something you wouldn’t expect pairing. For example these (Gucci jeans) that I have on, they’re plain washed blue jeans that Gucci has taken and decked out with the most beautiful embroidery, and pairing them with a track top — that’s completely my vibe. Even plain jeans with a white tee when you’re on the go, that’s me too. I like to be able to have the option to keep it crazy, or go simple.

What do you like to mix with your denim?
I love white tees with denim, especially during the summer because it's classic, and you won’t sweat your a** off.

What are you favorite denim brands?
Of course Levi’s because they’re the originators. I love AGOLDE, which is available at an inexpensive entry-level denim price point. You can get great jeans for 80 bucks. I ... love what Gucci is doing with their denim these days, and my favorite jean, a classic in my closet, is Dior Homme.

Written by Emely Grullon

(Photo: Meredith Andrews)


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