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Meet Mitch Grassi, the Pop Star With a Balenciaga Addiction
It’s an uncharacteristically grey February day in Los Angeles once I meet Mitch Grassi on the Opening Ceremony on La Cienega Boulevard, proper subsequent door to a automobile wash and throughout the road from the retro diner Norms. He has on a Balenciaga leather-and-shearling aviator-style jacket, worn low and off his shoulders, pulled shut like a four-figure safety blanket. Mixed together with his tattered Raf Simons sweatshirt, patchwork denim, and clunky Vetements boots, it’s a glance that’s bordering on downright aggressive, particularly for laid-back L.A., the place he lives when he’s not touring and the place just about all of the younger guys are nonetheless sporting a riff on the Scott Disick fuccboi uniform of ripped moto denims, past-the-ass elongated tee, John Elliott–type side-zip sweatshirt, and sneakers.
“I need to look scary,” he says whereas scanning a show of bomber jackets. “I don’t actually know why, however I’ve been into that ‘don’t speak to me’ look. I wish to be approachable however I additionally like … I wish to preserve individuals at arm’s size.” It’s an virtually laughable notion — a celeb dressing in such a conspicuous method to repel individuals. “It’s a form of bizarre duality,” he admits when pressed. “I would like consideration, however I don’t need you to speak to me.”
Grassi’s first impressions of style got here, fittingly, from the web, the place he encountered footage of Christian Lacroix reveals or classic Dior on Tumblr. He was in high school, round 17 years previous, and the photographs hinted at a world past his personal Texan suburb, of a lifetime of magnificence and glamour. Grassi is of a technology that has lived solely in a post-internet era — entrepreneurs would name him, considerably cynically, a “digital native” — and these on-line discoveries have been seminal to him. “I used to be like, Oh, that is superb,” he recollects. “The web was my gateway into the world. It was my manner of discovering tradition.”
Grassi, now 24, is most recognizable as one of many 5 members of Pentatonix, the hit a cappella singing group identified for covers of standard songs in addition to their very own music. That makes him unknown to some and, conversely, extremely well-known to others, sort of like a soap-opera star. In case you haven’t heard of Pentatonix earlier than, contemplate this: The group spent two weeks at primary on the Billboard 100 in the beginning of the 12 months (dethroning the Weeknd, no much less), and so they won a Grammy in February — their third, greater than Lorde or Frank Ocean — for Greatest Nation Duo/Group Efficiency, of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” They’ve greater than 3.Three million likes on Fb and the video for his or her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has racked up greater than 143 million views since they posted it on YouTube final October.
It’s no secret that, immediately, musicians and actors use their picture to convey some form of message, that style is simply one other type of branding. It’s the engine behind Zayn Malik’s taciturn mystique, Drake’s cozy “Champagne Papi” brio, and the kind of Military-surplus-store stylish that Kanye West is attempting to bottle and promote en masse beneath the moniker Yeezy. However whereas most musicians, like Bieber and his ilk, have kinds extra related to the simply digestible streetwear perspective, Grassi is extra related to the strangeness of the high-fashion runways of Europe. He’s unafraid to put on issues that look awkward or affected, enjoys it, even. This implies, nevertheless, that whereas mainstream web sites and magazines fawn over the standard type seen on the Goslings and Clooneys of the world, Grassi stays one of the vital forward-thinking dressers on the scene proper now — a incontrovertible fact that’s hiding in plain sight.
Grassi is at the moment in a voracious Balenciaga section. Whereas the model, beneath its designer Demna Gvasalia, has been given essential love, editorial placements in all the appropriate magazines, and is worn by street-style savants, it has not but made the leap to the celeb crimson carpet, particularly males. That’s most likely as a result of, not like Dior or Prada, it’s tough to put on, conceptual to a fault, virtually. Take a look at Gvasalia’s first menswear present for the model, with its comically overblown silhouettes or his follow-up collection which subverted the tropes of the middle-class company workplace uniform. It’s high-minded and, frankly, ridiculous. This doesn’t trouble Grassi. In a recent Instagram post, he’s sporting the cobalt, molded off-the-shoulder anorak that set social media afire through the Gvasalia’s womenswear debut on the model. On the Grammys, he wore look 25 from Balenciaga’s spring menswear show, a burgundy velvet swimsuit with cropped trousers and squared-off, Frankenstein-like shoulders. At Paris Trend Week he wore a coat, one other with Stop Making Sense proportions, this time in a wealthy damask materials. “I actually just like the dramatic and exaggerated silhouettes,” he explains.
Grassi tends to develop into obsessive about manufacturers, and has cycled via varied ones over time, from preppy J. Crew (a byproduct of courting somebody who labored there) to rock-and-roll Saint Laurent to gothic Givenchy. He went via a section of wearing mostly women’s clothing and he nonetheless has a penchant for dramatic womenswear from his favourite manufacturers. “All of us begin out actually messy, you recognize,” he says, pondering again on a few of his sartorial phases. Like the style world at massive, Grassi likes change, and is liable to discarding after which restocking his wardrobe when a brand new fixation takes maintain — proper now, he says, there’s quite a bit in storage whereas hoodies and outerwear are in prime rotation, regardless of L.A.’s delicate climate. “I’m at all times layered the fuck out and I don’t know why,” he says. His favourite outlets embody temples of the avant-garde: Maxfield, Dover Street Market, the web retailer Grailed. It’s little doubt an costly dependancy, however once I balk at the truth that he’ll drop cash on garments however drives a ten-year-old Toyota Yaris, and says he’ll till it dies, he appears to be like at me, all arched eyebrows, and intones, lethal severe, one phrase: “Priorities.”
Along with his Balenciaga, Grassi can also be eager on classic Raf Simons, significantly the autumn/winter 2002 Virginia Creeper assortment, and Vetements, additionally designed by Gvasalia. “It’s very Parisienne,” he says of his attraction to the latter, particularly its first assortment. “I imply, it was identical to blue denims and a button-down, but it surely was very stylish, and it was deconstructed, and it was female, and I used to be all about it.” On the designer’s birthday, Grassi posted a picture of a younger, forlorn-looking Simons, eyes forged downward, hair shaggy, on his Instagram. The caption learn, plainly, sweetly: “pleased pleased birthday @rafsimons.”
It’s simple to know why Grassi feels a connection to Gvasalia: They’re each outsiders who’ve discovered themselves on the within, and who deliver their fringe perspective to the highlight. Gvasalia is from Georgia, and began the tongue-in-cheek sportswear line Vetements earlier than being handed the keys to one of the vital storied luxurious labels in all of style. Grassi, in the meantime, is a small-town homosexual child — a traditional black sheep story if ever there have been one — who’s now a pop star who sells out stadiums, however who’s substituted a darkish edge for the saccharine sweetness that’s often related to the style. He admires individuals who break guidelines and are unconcerned with conference: he cites Rihanna and her bottomless love of fashion and category-defying sense of style, as inspiring. For somebody trying to assert their id rapidly, Grassi lets his theatrical ensembles say what he can’t when he’s busy harmonizing.
Grassi was raised in Arlington, a small suburb of Dallas, the place his mom is a dental technician and his father works in IT. It’s right here that he and two others — Scott Hoying and Kirstie Maldonado — shaped the founding Pentatonix trio whereas in highschool, the place he began out within the class musicals. “I had a ardour for performing, so I used to be like, I suppose I’ll do that,” he says of his theatrical endeavors. “However as I received older I knew it wasn’t actually for me anymore. It felt sort of infantile, and I needed to maneuver on to music as a result of that was my foremost ardour. It at all times has been.”
Their first break got here in 2010 by way of a choral rendition of Lady Gaga’s song “Telephone” they carried out throughout a faculty live performance, which went viral on-line. “It’s so bizarre that we simply grew up collectively and we’re nonetheless working collectively to at the present time,” he says. They introduced on two extra members, Avi Kaplan, whom they met via mutual buddies, and Kevin Olusola, whom they discovered on YouTube, to compete on the third season of the NBC actuality competitors present, The Sing-Off, the place they took prime prize, a win that launched their rise to stardom. As we speak they’ve 5 studio albums, a documentary movie, a number of excursions, and an enormous imprint on social media. Whereas Grassi is technically a tenor, his vocal dexterity and piercing falsetto have made him an important a part of the group. “It’s a excessive, there’s nothing prefer it,” he says of performing. “All of us thrive onstage, and it’s the place I really feel most myself.”
Wanting again, Grassi might by no means have predicted Pentatonix’s meteoric rise. “It’s probably the most surreal feeling as a result of it’s one thing that I didn’t even know was potential, in any respect,” he says. “We have been so lucky to seek out our area of interest, which is so arduous to do, and it labored, and it’s simply so loopy. It’s so mind-blowing.” Although the group works inside a extremely anachronistic type, their recognition dovetails with comparable cultural phenomenons just like the musical TV present Glee! (2009) and the hit film Pitch Perfect (2011), a couple of faculty a cappella group that covers fashionable songs, all of which has helped solidify their recognition.
In our Trumpian world, the place as soon as innocuous acts are all of a sudden politicized, there’s a sly radicalism in an overtly homosexual, gender-nonconforming style lover like Grassi featured in a gaggle with such recognition in red states. “That’s the enchantment of us, too,” he says. “Our individualism. Our followers can sort of latch onto each member of the band and we’re all so vastly completely different, so I feel that’s sort of why we’ve got so many varieties of individuals,” he says. Take, for instance, when the group carried out the Christmas carol “God Relaxation Ye Merry Gents” on Jimmy Kimmel Dwell!; Grassi wore a ladies’s Saint Laurent jacket with dramatic shoulders and fur sleeves whereas Maldonado seemed the bombshell in a lace gown and the workout-loving beatboxer Olusola wore a grey blazer. “I really feel like my model and Pentatonix model typically don’t actually … they conflict slightly bit,” he says.
Nonetheless, he typically feels the stress to be a crusader, particularly on-line. “I really feel as if I’ve to be some form of advocate, and I for positive am one. But it surely’s difficult as a result of the folks that I observe which can be in that place really feel as if they need to have a powerful voice as a result of they’ve a platform, they get a number of backlash.” With social media, our pop stars are anticipated to open themselves as much as us and allow us to in unequivocally, which Grassi finds a disadvantage to fame. It’s one of many causes, I believe, that he attire “scary,” to maintain individuals at arm’s size.
Whereas Pentatonix continues to be Grassi’s foremost focus — they’ll hit the highway once more later this summer season — there are hints that he could also be planting seeds for all times past the band. He and pal/groupmate Scott Hoying even have the comedy and music net sequence SUP3RFRUIT, a humorous little enterprise that they co-created in 2013 and co-produce immediately. To some, this may occasionally sound like a superfluous pastime, however SUP3RFRUIT has 2.35 million YouTube subscribers, and it’s not unusual, particularly for the episodes that characteristic singing, to get one million or extra views. “It’s wild,” Grassi says. “The YouTuber world is so bizarre. It virtually looks like we’re not likely doing something substantial.”
And will Grassi add designer to his rising record of facet tasks? Don’t depend it out. “Completely, yeah,” he says of wanting the opportunity of designing or collaborating with a designer. He says that it could aesthetically be just like his present look. “I don’t know if individuals would purchase it. It wouldn’t be merch-y essentially.” The query is, would the world critically settle for a former tween band member as a severe designer?
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