The 26-year-old “Golden” singer made history as the first man to appear solo on the cover of the fashion magazine. Styles, no stranger to a fashion risk, told the outlet that he’s “liked fancy dress” since he was a kid.
“I was really young, and I wore tights for [a school play],” he recalled. “I remember it was crazy to me that I was wearing a pair of tights. And that was maybe where it all kicked off!”
Styles rose to fame after his mom convinced him to try out for X Factor in 2010. Simon Cowell subsequently placed him in a group with Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik.
“I went to the audition to find out if I could sing,” he said. “Or if my mum was just being nice to me.”
Fast-forward to 2015 and the group announced a hiatus after five studio albums and several sold-out tours. While Styles has gone on to find success as a solo artist and actor, he was forced to hit pause in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The musician moved in with two of his band members and friends to quarantine amid the Los Angeles lockdown.
“[Mitch Rowland and Sarah Jones and I] would put names in a hat and plan the week out,” Styles said. “If you were Monday, you would choose the movie, dinner and the activity for that day. I like to make soups, and there was a big array of movies; we went all over the board.”
Styles called 2020 “a really good lesson in what makes me happy now.”
He explained: “It’s such a good example of living in the moment. I honestly just like being around my friends. That’s been my biggest takeaway. Just being on my own the whole time, I would have been miserable.”
Styles added that this year has been a “time for opening up and learning and listening,” citing the Black Lives Matter movement as an example.
“I’ve been trying to read and educate myself so that in 20 years I’m still doing the right things and taking the right steps,” he said. “I believe in karma, and I think it’s just a time right now where we could use a little more kindness and empathy and patience with people, be a little more prepared to listen and grow.”
Scroll through for the biggest takeaways from Styles’ cover story: