My Style: Mboko Ndimba Mobutu

Mboko-Mobutu

Photo: Citizen Couture — Courtesy of Mboko Ndimba Mobutu

What are the rules, if any, in the way you dress?

Whatever style I’m in the mood for when I dress, I always try to be elegant. Even when I’m not so formal, it’s just important to present myself in a certain way. I’m one of the nostalgic of those times when men and women were actually getting dressed up in their everyday lives not because of an occasion but because it was the norm.

Please describe your style in three words.

Playful, sophisticated, classy.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Trying too hard. Not everyone can pull off anything, and when it’s not genuine it generally shows.

Do you believe in role models?

I tend not to give people more importance than they should get because the idea you have of someone in your mind is usually emphasised in a very poetic way, while the reality often lets you down. But I don’t mean to be pessimistic: some people can be pretty inspiring and influential in the way they behave, dress, act, their work ethic and so on. I guess my answer is yes.

What are your favourite fabrics?

I’m not so sure I have one. I like all of the soft fabrics that are really enjoyable to wear from cashmere to quality wool. As of lately, visually I’m really into rigid fabrics with a technical aspect to them: I’m thinking neoprene and such.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

I used to but I’ve come to learn that when handled right, there’s no preconceived idea about style. What you thought would look terrible can work like magic according to who’s wearing it. Their amount of confidence, attitude, knowledge of what they’re doing…

Which city has the best-dressed men?

Without a doubt, Milan. They make me wish I were Italian! [laughs]

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

As paradoxical as it may sound a little bit of both. I love everything about classic menswear elegance but to update it with modern codes, fits, and a certain humour.

Celebrities and style...

Unfortunately when it comes to female celebrities, very few of them actually have genuine style and you can tell when there’s a stylist behind it or the influence of what’s trending. For male celebrities, not enough of them take risks and surprise us. We need more Ryan Goslings, most definitely.

One garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

Shoes! That’s a problem, believe me…[laughs]

A man should always look like...

He made an effortless effort and is confident in whatever he’s wearing.

Who taught you what you know about style?

I feel like I’ve always had that [style] sensibility in me but one of my older brothers is to blame for, really. He was the first to introduce me to taking risks when getting dressed, seeing way past a simple piece of clothing but learning to incorporate it to a whole silhouette knowing what works for you. Then when evolving in an artistic environment, you can’t help but feed your vision with the people working around you, what you’re exposed to and on and on.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

It depends on the mornings (or should I say nights before)… the best outfits usually come to mind as a whole according to what I’m in the mood for wearing: those are the good days when it’s easy. [laughs] Other times I can stare at my closet for long minutes without having a clue. Then it usually builds up and around one piece I choose. The problem with me is that dressing up is the same process as styling an editorial. I can be really hard with what I come up with because I always want to give something interesting to look at. To somehow surprise!

Your biggest regret is...

Not style-related! I wish I were less reserved because I feel like I missed out on some encounters or experiences.

The three essential things a man should know about style are...

Tailoring is the most important to me! Wear clothes that fit you if not perfectly, at least well enough. Too many men are afraid of sizes they consider too small or tight while it’s what fits them properly. There’s nothing better than a clean, sharp and sleek silhouette. Shoes come second. You can be dressed exquisitely, if your shoes are not right, it can ruin an entire look to me. I’m really specific about them: forget about the pointed ones, the square-toed ones, white leather. Wear clothes you’re confident and comfortable in. Dress for yourself before others.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

Not really. But I have places I always go to in Paris: Haussmann Boulevard, Rivoli Street, Étienne Marcel, The Marais, Le Bon Marché, Saint-Germains-des-Prés…

We will never see you wearing...

Flip flops!

The most stylish person you have ever seen...

I have a soft spot for Nick Wooster, I must admit. I never met him though.

What is the first thing you notice on a man?

Overall, if they are dressed well… to my taste. I’m generally more of the entirety type first then go into details if my attention was caught before.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

The opening photograph of a Vogue Hommes International (fall 2011) editorial photographed by Horst Diekgerdes and styled by David Bradshaw where three male models are dressed in bright coloured fitted suits from the likes of Dior Homme and Jil Sander.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

I’m really into Guillaume Henry’s work at Carven simply because it represents quite well my aesthetic, chic and modern: I find his style to be simple yet innovative and incredibly both effective and desirable. I’m also keeping an eye on emerging brands like General Idea, Carlos Campos, AMI.

The only article of clothing that a man needs to pay close attention to is...

His shoes! Again…

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

It’s hard for me to answer this question because I get easily tired of pretty much everything and I’m always eager for newness. Lately, I’ve bought many pairs of shoes I’ll hold on to for quite a while I’m sure. So there you have it yet again.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

A lot of time it is (usually at the end of the day) but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about the choices one decides to make. I know I privilege my style over comfort very often.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

Dries Van Noten, Christopher Bailey at Burberry, Raf Simons at Jil Sander, Miuccia Prada, Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy, Lucas Ossendrijver and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, Wooyoungmi. Sorry, I couldn’t choose just one.

Who would you like to see next in €œMy Style€?

Nick Wooster.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

“You should put your passion on yourself before translating to other people.” — Anna Dello Russo

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