Anna Wintour and Russell Westbrook chat front row at rag & bone’s Spring/Summer 2014 New York Fashion Week show.
Photo: Getty Images
Oh SNAP. Did you guys see this?? Russell Westbrook sat front row at last night’s rag & bone Spring/Summer 2014 New York Fashion Week show! And not just that, he sat next to THE high priestess of FASHUN as an organized religion, Miss Anna Wintour. If you have no idea who Westbrook, this darlingly chapeau’ed specimen of excellent cheekbones, is or why he’s important, you (A) are obviously not a hardXcore basketball fan like Anna and me *hairflip*, and (B) are about to get a liiiittle history lesson.
OK, so *sets the scene* in 2005, David Stern (NBA commissioner from 1984 to February 2014 when he will retire) enacted a mandatory dress code for players to wear business casual (or something more dressed up, conservative, church/country club-ready-ish) when coming and going from the arena for games, on the bench not playing because of an injury, and at any other official NBA events like post-game press conferences, interviews, benefits, etc. This was in direct response to some unfortunate NBA image problems at the time as a result of a huge fight that broke out at a 2004 Indiana Pacers v. Detroit Pistons game AND what we’ll unofficially call the “Allen Iverson Era” of NBA style (both because he most effectively embodied it and because he was one of the biggest dissenters of Stern’s dress code).
The Iverson Era (and for the record, AI is one of my favorite players of all-time, so this is no slight) was heavily dominated by mid-to-late aughts hip-hop culture and characterized by cornrows, *ice*, over-sized jerseys and tees, Timbs, basically anything in 50 Cent’s closet. The dress code has been in effect for almost 8 years now, but not until the 2011 NBA Finals have the league and its players appeared to actually embrace it—figuring out ways to still express themselves within its sartorial parameters—and Russell Westbrook is a key player in that shift of mentality toward fashion in the NBA.
Westbrook is a point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and in 2011, his team and the Miami Heat went head-to-head in the Finals. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (two of the most valuable and visible players on the Heat) have been dressing well for years and taking pride in it, but until those Finals games against OKC, their style was still kind of marginalized (maybe because they’re based in Miami, a city that’s expectedly flashy or something?? IDKIDK). But it was Westbrook’s unique approach to fashion that, we believe, really ignited the NBA fashion climate as it exists today. How? By going H.A.M. with wild designer clothes—mixed prints, cartoon alpine ski slope motif Prada shirts, candy-colored pants—AND by picking a kind of public ~style fight~ (for lack of a better term) with LeBron and D. Wade about who started the “nerd glasses” trend.
Since then, he’s become one of the foremost style icons for the NBA–definitely one of the biggest (if not THE biggest, did we all see his 2013 Teen Choice Awards outfit?) risk-takers—andddddd now, he’s sitting with Anna Wintour at rag & bone (not his first time at NYFW, but definitely the first public sighting with the Vogue EIC-turned-Conde Nast Artistic Director). If history is any good of an indicator, we have an idea of what this could mean. We’ve seen it happen before. Nicki Minaj sits with Anna? She gets a feature in Vogue. Taylor Swift’s spotted front row with Wintour? Winds up on the cover. Might this signify an upcoming Vogue feature for Russ? Only time will tell, but the mere fact that this moment happened is MAJOR.
Oh yea, and P.S. He doesn’t have a stylist. *drops mic*