It’s easy to forget just how huge Usher used to be. In the 2000s, there were few male musicians as successful as the suave R&B singer – not only was he widely recognised as a sex symbol, but Usher sold over 20 million records worldwide and snatched four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles. Indeed, Billboard has called his fourth studio album Confessions the top solo album of the decade, and Usher remains one of the best-selling artists of all time.
He’s had a slightly diminished profile in recent years, but his impeccable style (and star power) remains as bright as ever, as his most recent fashion statement emphatically demonstrates.
Recruited by Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing for his SS21 showing, Usher stepped out in a retro-inspired ‘resort’ ensemble from the Parisian fashion house last week, replete with chunky shades and a pastel sweatshirt worn under an aggressively bolstered blazer.
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It’s a very 80s look; reminiscent of androgynous fashion icon Grace Jones. It suits Usher’s suave character perfectly and reaffirms Rousteing’s Midas touch.
One of the 80s’ most ubiquitous fashion trends was big shoulder pads, in everything from suit jackets to dresses and even in bras. While shoulder padding was hardly an 80s innovation – Coco Chanel’s women’s suiting was doing it back in the 20s – it was the late 70s and 80s that took it to an extreme. It was an essential element of ‘power dressing’ and went to outrageous lengths (literally).
However, it looks just as good on men as it does as women, as Usher clearly demonstrates. Bring shoulder pads back, we say.
The 41-year-old star shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, having released a slew of singles this year ahead of his forthcoming ninth solo album. His most recent release, Bad Habits, dropped earlier in September, alongside an impressively choreographed music video.