Hollywood's New Style Stars Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell on Making the Red Carpet a Playground

Taylor Russell and Kelvin Harrison Jr. - Getty - H 2020
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They're having fun and turning heads in the fashion world: "I was so boring in high school. I used to wear like Top-Siders, khakis and a polo every day."

In Trey Edward Shults' gut punch of a family drama Waves, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell play siblings but if you catch them offscreen making waves (sorry) on the red carpet, know that they're actually just playing. 

At the recent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica — Film Independent's celebration of indie cinema during which they were both nominated (Harrison for Luce; Russell for a breakout turn in Waves) — both actors explained their style strategies in strikingly similar terms. 

"I just like playing, you know what I mean?" the 25-year-old Harrison explained to The Hollywood Reporter while dressed up in a sky blue Sies Marjan suit punctuated with painted fingernails. "I've been trying to experiment. I was so boring when I was in high school. I used to wear like Top-Siders, khakis and a polo every day and I found myself saying, like, why am I not expressing myself?" 

Enter Matthew Henson. The stylist has worked with ASAP Rocky and The Weeknd, and for Harrison, he brought "Gucci, colors, shapes" that helped the actor push the boundaries of his personal style. "I I used to watch America's Next Top Model every day and I just loved seeing like the stylist wake up and work with the models and try new things. That's what I'm doing now. It's just fun." 

He's not had much time for it, though. Harrison has been working at a hectic clip over these past few years. He can currently be seen onscreen opposite Lakeith Stanfield in The Photograph and next stars in The Trial of the Chicago 7, The High Note and In the Bag. And to balance the good fortunes while staying healthy, Harrison says he's into meditation, breath work, journaling and, of course, the fashion of it all. "It's a world. It's like I want to create my own fashion world and live like a Tim Walker photograph, you know?"

Russell approaches red carpet style with a similar "I'm just having fun" playful vibe, but she likes to become someone new with every new ensemble. Or at least she acts like it. "I try to be a character — like becoming somebody who's not necessarily me and doesn't feel organic to who I am in my everyday life, but is definitely an attitude I'm bringing. Being seen in like a nice outfit brings just a different sort of energy and you have to give it. I enjoy finding out who that is each time." 

Decked out in Chanel that day, Russell, also 25, credited her team that includes A-list star stylist Leslie Fremar. Her clients include Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Julianne Moore, Nicola Peltz and Lea Seydoux, so Russell is in very good company. "I have a good team who really supports and makes me feel good about what I'm wearing." 

She's also feeling pretty good about where she's going. Following Waves, Russell has been on a work bender, too, filming back-to-back projects such as the upcoming Escape Room 2, Words on Bathroom Walls and Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets. Because of said work, she hasn't even really noticed the buzz surrounding her performance all that much. Of course, she did notice when she won a Gotham Award for breakthrough actor, but for the most part she's been an observer, too. 

"I feel like I've been kind of watching from the outside looking in, seeing, you know, really amazing things happen for me," she explained. "Things are changing in a way that is really beautiful but it also just doesn't feel real and it kind of feels like I'm an outsider looking into what is my life. That makes me want to just try to be as present as possible and be here in the moment, enjoy it and take it all in cause I know that things change so fast."

True, but at least there are the images that last a lifetime. Scroll down for their most memorable looks.