This Was the Year Famous Guys Started Dressing for Attention

To be a Hollywood star in 2023, it’s not enough to simply be recognized as a legitimate performer. You also need to garner adoration and headlines for looking cool offscreen—which is why male celebrities are finally taking fashion seriously.
year in review a collage of pedro pascal timothee chalamet ryan gosling and kendrick lamaar cillian murphy
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To close out the year, GQ is revisiting the most fascinating ideas, trends, people, and projects of 2023. For all of our year-end coverage, click here.

Earlier this year, Cillian Murphy was in the midst of a serious outfit heater. With the assistance of stylist Rose Forde, the veteran actor—who previously wasn’t much of an adventurous dresser—had been pulling out the stops for the Oppenheimer press tour. A custom black-and-tan Prada suit, fit with a matching shirt and tie the color of café au lait. An elegant V-neck cardigan tucked into high-waisted trousers that he wore—with Margiela sunglasses on—at an outdoor press event in the rain. Chic!

For what would be the film’s final premiere in London (during which the Oppenheimer cast members left the screening in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA, who joined the WGA in striking that day), Murphy saved his best look for last: a pinstriped Saint Laurent suit fit with a gauzy black shirt and a gold-tipped bolo tie. These were real “Cillian, I wasn’t familiar with your game” moments. (Although there was also a thematically relevant bent to them—the real J. Robert Oppenheimer, as moviegoers would soon realize, also had great style.)

Cillian Murphy at the London premiere of Oppenheimer in July.

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There was a time, not so long ago, when serious actors only wore classic “penguin suits” when required—at awards shows, movie premieres, and the like—because they wanted the work to speak for itself. In Hollywood, fashion—with its power to shape a narrative and speak volumes about the wearer—remained mostly a women’s game. (A notable exception, of course, is Daniel Day-Lewis, an all-time dresser.) This shifted in a big way in 2021, when Hollywood returned to business as usual-ish following the pandemic. As red carpets resumed, the rules of celebrity menswear evaporated. Just as Cillian Murphy could become a fashion plate in a mere few weeks of press appearances, industry reputations were being forged right there in front of flashbulbs. To be a Hollywood star in 2023, it’s not enough to simply be recognized as a legitimate performer. You also need to garner adoration and headlines for looking cool offscreen—which, in turn, helps to reinforce your reputation as a legitimate performer. Now, having a decent fashion sense—or at the very least, knowing how to dress for attention—is an integral apparatus in the actor’s toolbox.

In 2023, virtually every ascendant actor became a fashion star. Young guns like Paul Mescal, Austin Butler, Charles Melton, and Jeremy Allen White showed out on and, just as importantly, off the red carpet. (The latter would become especially important throughout the actors’ strike, when JAW made it onto our annual Biggest Fits list in nothing but a pair of tiny running shorts.) Jacob Elordi carried luxury handbags, dressed like a classic leading man, and emulated Yves Saint Laurent on the cover of GQ’s Men of the Year issue. Perhaps the most outré in this category is Pedro Pascal, whose sudden fashion-daddy arrival felt engineered to rev up the algorithm. (During the actor’s Mandalorian press tour, his fashion consultant, Julie Ragolia, tweeted his photo with the caption: “I’m not a celebrity stylist. I just enjoy shaking up the internet for people.”) In a similar vein, Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez—the stars of Amazon’s destined-to-be-viral romcom Red, White, & Royal Blue—arrived on the scene swiftly draped in Fendi and Givenchy.

Industry vets got in on the act, too: Ryan Gosling and Michael Cera wore blush pink suits at the Barbie premiere. Donald Glover made formalwear look freakier than ever. Robert Pattinson, who favors regular-ass cargo shorts on his own time, rocked a fur bomber, a skirt, and knee-high boots at a Dior show. Hell, even Brian Cox paired leather pants with Kith horsebit loafers on Fallon.

Pedro Pascal at the Los Angeles premiere of The Mandalorian in February.

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Brian Cox on The Tonight Show in November.

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The attention-dressing ecosystem extends beyond Hollywood, too. Rapper Kendrick Lamar declared himself “best-dressed moving forward” on his track “The Hillbillies” over the summer, planting a flag in his year of peacocking in grails from Martine Rose, Wales Bonner, and Chanel. At long last, fashion woke up to K-pop and idols flocked to runway shows. (Six of the seven members of BTS nabbed major fashion brand deals this year; Jin, the only outlier, was already enlisted in South Korea’s mandatory military service.) A$AP Rocky, one of this era’s coolest celeb dressers, parlayed his great taste into an uncanny-valley Bottega Veneta campaign composed of faux-organic paparazzi fit shots.

Perhaps this is all thanks to the trickle-down Chalamet effect: “I’ve been on the phone with publicists and they’re like, We want a Timothée Chalamet-level look,” fashion editor Ian Bradley told GQ earlier this year. Meanwhile, the actual Timothée Chalamet took his own game to a whole new level, donning galaxy-brain fits like a gobsmacking latex trench coat fresh off a long-haul flight to Japan.

Or maybe it’s a byproduct of this current era of what my colleague Sam Hine recently characterized as “Nobu style”: a phenomenon in which famous (and fame-thirsty) men wear clothes that are eye-catching and attention-grabbing but polished to the point of uncanniness—like a storefront mannequin or Instagram ecomm model.

Jacob Elordi at Milan Fashion Week in June.

Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

“Nobu style is not understated,” Hine explained. “It’s all about every piece on your body being branded and major, like you’re stunting in an NBA tunnel. It’s about popping with color and pattern, as if you’re hosting SNL. It’s about every millimeter of fabric being tailored to perfection, lest you be caught slipping by Backgrid.” Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end and a champion of Nobu style, has been dressing this way for years. Where some other fashion-agnostic celebs would need to scramble for a stylist to make the most of a star-making turn as Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend, Kelce’s personal wardrobe was already locked and loaded.

For famous dudes in 2023, getting dressed is all about knowing when and how to put on a little show. A long, healthy career can no longer survive on professional accomplishments alone. For some, this can lead into vulnerable territory—the soft, murky ground between wearing fashion and looking cool (complimentary) or “cool” (derogatory).

Because dressing for attention can help make (or keep) someone famous, but it can also make them infamous. This year also gave us former congressman George Santos, who was, up until two weeks ago, an incompetent and callous Republican legislator with a compulsive taste for luxury goods. His unquenchable passion for fashion (which he reportedly fed with campaign funds) was partially what got him expelled from the House, but it is also what makes him a likely candidate for some ill-advised fashion partnership that may well be announced in the months to come. For Santos, which will come first: the Dancing with the Stars offer or the BoohooMAN deal?