When Drake wears something, the world takes notice. The look he wore in last year’s Hotline Bling video: deconstructed Mountie meets normcore dad, was hugely influential. Not only did he give a second life to everyone’s sand-coloured walking boots (his were Nike ACG Manoa), the knock-on effect on the padded Moncler was instant. The cherry red jacket (a snip at $1,150) sold out a day after the video premiered. For all his fashion influences, Vanity Fair called Drake “the new Kate Middleton”. Key to this look was his “success beard”: a sleek, streamlined vision of maturity that drove the internet crazy.
“Beards tend to give the illusion of maturity,” says psychologist Dennis Palumbo. “They also signal change or a new role. Maybe a way to rebrand oneself.” Which is exactly what Drake has done with the visual of his new album, Views. On the cover he sits near the top of Toronto’s CN Tower wearing a Sherpa jacket, like a king surveying his kingdom. The video accompanying the release feels like a statement of regal intent: images of the singer being given the golden key to Toronto flash up, interspersed with footage of him drinking champagne out of his Grammy and the face of designer Riccardo Tisci popping up. It’s all very victory lap.
The photographs that accompany the release occupy the same wonderfully OTT space of Kanye West’s uglybeautiful Bound 2 video. They continue a stately theme: they’re a bit Dynasty, a little Spectre a tad Bourne. There Drake is, outside his mansion in a luxurious fur coat; or in a silk dressing gown, half-drunk glass of champagne in hand, or in a suit with his business-associate henchmen.
In this context, his beard is the equivalent of his golden crown, recalling the pomp of Henry VIII. With lyrical shout outs to Chanel, The Met Gala, Gucci plus a jewellery pun (“Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum,” he raps in Pop Style), the fashion influence on Views is strong. While the visual message is similarly luxe: this is success; this is winning. Let the memes begin.