Despite his young age, 27-year-old André Larnyoh has made an impression on the London style scene. Youthful and yet worldly, Larnyoh is an actor, writer and all-round aesthete, who’s contributed stories to the likes of No Man Walks Alone in New York and Permanent Style in London, and (at the risk of a shameless plug) has featured on the author’s podcast, HandCut Radio. His episode resonated with a lot of listeners, who were drawn to André’s honesty and his youthful attitude towards menswear.
“Growing up I was shy. Got bullied and didn’t know how to express myself with words so clothes were my way of doing it without saying anything,” he reflects, as we take a stroll down Golborne Road, a quirky street in west London, close to Notting Hill, that’s littered with bakeries, antique stores and street food stands. It’s a part of town that André loves, and it speaks to his creative disposition. Today, you’d struggle to believe that André was a shy adolescent – as a dramaturg in his late 20s, he’s warm-hearted and fun to be around.
While clothes are a passion for André, drama is his first love. He’s currently in the final year of a Master Degree in Acting at prestigious London drama school, LAMDA, and when he’s not writing you’ll find him swotting up on scripts or putting extra hours in at the school’s rehearsal rooms in Hammersmith. “Acting is the first goal. Pushing ahead with that is a priority over clothes,” he says. “At school, clothes and acting are mutually exclusive. When I go into the rehearsal room, I have to leave some of the clothes I like outside because people notice if you’ve got something different on and it distracts from the work.”
That said, he still finds ways to play with the parameters of rehearsal room style. “My sweatpants are still big wide ones,” he adds. “The shirt I wear is looser and sometimes I’ll go in wearing a big Oxford button-down on top just because. It still attracts a bit of attention, but to me it feels neutral.”
Nevertheless, André’s experiences at LAMDA feel in some ways remarkably similar to learning about your own personal style: “When I got there, someone told me that going to a drama school was like being taught how to play classical music […] When I arrived I was like, ‘it sounds like you’re teaching us how to play jazz instead,’ and that’s really cool. The tutors are like, ‘Here’s the standard like My Funny Valentine, now do what you want with it, and it will still be My Funny Valentine, just your version of it. They’re teaching us how to just be free and do what we think. They’ll give us the tools, but they won’t tell us necessarily how to use them.”
This leads us neatly to André’s chosen ‘well worn’ wardrobe favourite. A chunky, knee-length cardigan-jacket hybrid he was given for participating in a Ralph Lauren brand editorial in 2019. “I think it’s just called a cowboy cardigan,” he says. “I picked it up a few years ago and wear it like a big jacket. On autumn and spring days, I just throw it on. I take it to class as well – it’s comfortable, loose, relaxed – it does what it needs to do.”
This quest for comfort in André’s wardrobe is something that a lot of readers will doubtless identify with. But the need to be comfortable isn’t just about the casualisation of men’s style to him – its personal. “The most important thing I’ve learned about style is just to do you,” André says. “Wear something with confidence. Jason Joules [another menswear luminary] told me, ‘you’ve just got to walk around with it and think “I’m the sh*t,” and actually just believe it’.”
Another impressive trait of Larnyoh’s is his open-mindedness when it comes to style. He doesn’t identify as a ‘menswear guy’ and enjoys stepping between the words of fashion and menswear. “It’s a niche scene,” he says of classic menswear. “A lot of people write [fashion] off, but they fail to recognise that often you can find pieces that are very beautifully designed.” He cites brands like Lemaire and Homme Plissé Issey Mikaye as new, inspiring experiments in his wardrobe.
While the allure of stage and screen calls more than a career in fashion, that of course doesn’t mean André’s passion for clothes is going anywhere soon. As we settle down in with a beer at the close of our interview, I ask whether he ever over-thinks his wardrobe?
“Anyone who says they don’t… they’re lying,” he says, with a knowing grin.
Thomas Mason is a brand of cotonificio albini s.p.a.
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