It’s hard not to notice Amar’e Stoudemire. His towering 6-foot-10 height aside, he’s a standout human being.
First of all, the NBA superstar favors hats. Nice ones. Big ones. Ones that make you say to yourself, "Wow, my head feels drastically underaccessorized now." He also loves gold. Gold chains, gold watches, and as I found out via a little impromptu backstage teeth molding, gold grills (more on that later).
Then there are his two gorgeous, ever-present female companions. His wife, Alexis, is a blonde, statuesque bombshell, who like her husband, is a walking Pinterest board of effortless, sexy-cool style. And his longtime stylist, the hyperrespected and successful Rachel Johnson, who along with Stoudemire counts as clients ballers Chris Bosh and Victor Cruz (who, we should applaud, was just announced as the male face of Givenchy, a huge score for an American professional football player). They both, of course, add to his noticeability.
And now, after sitting beside, behind, and across from this ultrastylish troupe for four days at Paris Fashion Week and peeping from afar at their glamorous existence, we finally connect backstage at the Hood By Air show at the Philharmonie de Paris. (Coincidentally the show and place were as memorable and refreshing as the couple themselves.) Here, some highlights from my style-ranging sit-down with the Stoudemires.
Here we are at designer Shayne Oliver’s first show at Paris Fashion Week. His line, Hood By Air, is street-meets-high-fashion delivered in unexpected ways, kind of like your style, no? What’s your one-sentence review of the show?
Amar’e Stoudemire: Wow. I knew it was going to be raw and edgy, but Shayne really just delivered an outrageously creative and artistic collection.
I’d say. This is my last day of 20 or so days of consecutive fashion, and I definitely haven’t seen anything else like it. Except maybe that last look, the purple pants. They reminded me of another show I saw you at, Berluti. That show was incredibly colorful and cheery, a serious departure from the one we just saw. What did you think of that collection?
Amar’e: I was pretty impressed with Berluti. That brand is really looking strong, and the colors of this season were great. I don’t know if I could pull off purple pants, but they definitely remind me of my wardrobe when I am vacationing or spending time at our family home in Miami. If you wear that collection, you will look like you’re about to get on a yacht—or maybe even buy one. You need that kind of vibe sometimes.
I always kind of want to look as if I’m about to buy a yacht, so Berluti just moved up on my list of favorite collections. Anyone else that stuck out? Besides the two we just mentioned, I also saw you at such shows as Lanvin, Balmain, Raf Simons, and Rick Owens. You’re basically one of us at this point.
Amar’e: [Laughs] Yeah, I take my fashion pretty seriously; it’s an immense passion of mine. And it’s good to be back in the mix of things, as I haven’t been to Paris for the shows in at least two years. Not since we got engaged and married, so I really wanted to go big this time. The Rick Owens show was brilliant. His style is just … me. I wear a lot of his creations. This season I really liked the shoes, like the oversize combat boots. Also, Balmain was big time. Olivier [Rousteing, the brand's young, bad-boy creative director] brought his A-game. The safari-inspired embellished men’s looks were definitely something, but I was really shopping for stuff for Alexis. She definitely needs one of those Balmain dresses.
I was just going to suggest you get her one of those corset-hugging, bedazzled masterpieces by Rousteing. How did you get in to this fashion thing anyway? You have great taste. Is it something you always had an interest in, or do you think that living in such places as Miami and New York City, when you were playing with the Knicks, helped bring that side out of you?
Amar’e: New York definitely turned it up. The direct access to fashion was right there. But it was really my mom who laid down the foundation for me. My mom was a designer and a model, so that was very much a part of her life and of my upbringing. She always had on, and still has to have on, the highest stilettos, the best dress, and her Versace shades. So from a very young age—maybe 9 or so—she had me in herringbone, she had me in chains and fitted jeans. I always looked fresh. But for me, at the time, I just wanted to play basketball. And now, well … now I like to dress up and play basketball.
So has making fashion a big part of your personal brand been intentional?
Amar’e: For sure. People are used to seeing me on the court playing this aggressive game, but through fashion they get to see another, off-the-court, side of me. They get to see me enjoying the luxury part of life. Plus, since I’ve been getting into it pretty heavy for some time now, fashion has created a lot of opportunities for me. Like being here and seeing the right shows and taking meetings with the right people, the right influencers. It’s my way of self-educating on this industry so I can continue to improve and expand in this space.
I think you’ve definitely become a champion for the idea of this athlete-style hybrid. Jocks like you and Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have made it not only acceptable, but also empowering, for manly men everywhere really, not just in professional sports, to care about what they wear. It’s been fantastic to watch happen. Because of that success, do you see yourself having a full-time future in fashion after your NBA career?
Amar’e: Thank you. I definitely consider myself a leader in that epidemic—of athletes breaking out and doing their own style thing. So that’s for sure an avenue I want to continue to pursue because I am so passionate about it. Currently, I am working with this brand called Spiritual Gangster out of Arizona. It’s an activewear-based line, and I have taken on the project of helping turn them into a more full-blown lifestyle brand. So we will see what happens there, but I definitely see myself taking on more designer-like roles in the future.
At this point in the interview, Amar’e pauses to get impressions done of his chompers backstage by the Parisian grillsmaker-to-the-stars, Dolly Cohen. Cohen makes one-of-a-kind “mouth jewelry” for celebrities such as Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, and supermodel Cara Delevingne—as well as for the Hood By Air show. So I take a few minutes to chat with his sweetheart of a life partner, Alexis, who shares that the couple of over a decade is celebrating their engagement anniversary which took place in the City of Light.
Alexis Stoudemire: [Laughing] There’s a first time for everything right? (Referring to the fact that her husband’s mouth is now filled with clay molding trays mid-interview.)
This somehow seems very clinical. But I’m totally into it. So you guys have been together since you were both 19, and you’re now 32, so you’ve certainly experienced first-hand this style evolution and chase he’s been on. What do you think about his fashion point of view?
Alexis: I absolutely love his style. He can honestly pull off anything, but I know he favors things that are functionally stylish and always effortless-looking. And his passion has definitely forced me to step up my own game over the years. Like today, I wasn’t really sure about this look [a black, tight-fitting leather peplum dress with athletic sneakers and a large, fringed clutch] for the show, and he gave me the confidence to go for it.
Well played, you look great. It’s equal parts hard and feminine, very fitting for this show. I also can’t help but notice you have grills on your bottom teeth. Was that another thing inspired, or encouraged, by Amar’e?
Alexis: Oh, definitely. And it took a while. It wasn’t something I naturally gravitated to at first, but he’s taught and shown me that given the right place and occasion it can be a very cool way to accessorize.
Amare’s teeth molds are out. He’s free to join the conversation again.
Amar’e, so beyond the Hood By Air show during Paris Fashion Week, what is a good occasion to wear your custom grills? I’m asking for a friend.
Amar’e: The grills that I wear are more, well, they’re just not as flashy as some of the others you see people wearing. I prefer the simple ones, like just a gold bar on the bottom. So something like that could really go with anything. I would wear that dressed up with my tuxedo or with something a lot more casual. Just definitely some place where you can just be yourself and relax.
Your accessories game as a whole is definitely admirable. Your hats in particular have been spectacular. Tell me a little bit about what you are wearing right now.
Amar’e: This hat is Saint Laurent, but I have so many. Some I have had made custom, and some I pick up by designers. My sunglasses [rounded, gold frames] were co-designed by my teammate in Dallas, Tyson [Chandler, also formerly in New York with the Knicks.] They're called called Chandler x Selima Optique. My watch is Franck Muller [very large, covered in diamonds and rectagular—all signatures of the Swiss watchmaker], but I usually travel with multiple options. I have five on this trip.
Alexis, I bet it was crazy to pack for this trip? What was your process?
Alexis: It definitely required some prep before. We worked with our styling team Rachel [Johnson, who styled Amar’e] and Kesha [McLeod, another stylist and associate of Johnson’s, who helped style Alexis]. We thought out and coordinated pieces and looks we wanted to create and bring for each show we were invited to. Luckily, we’re huge fans of all the shows we attended while we were here, so that part was actually easy, because we had plenty of stuff in our closet to choose from. It was the editing-down process that was hard.
So from here you guys are headed back to New York, right? Amar’e, do you plan to attend some shows in a few weeks as part of the first New York Fashion Week: Men’s?
Amar’e Stoudemire: Yeah, I think it’s really great that they’re finally doing a standalone men’s fashion week in New York. I don’t have any expectations because I haven’t seen the list of designers confirmed to show there yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be action packed and that the CFDA is going to do a great job with it. I’m excited.
Me, too. And from my knowledge of designers and brands confirmed on the show calendar, these are the ones I expect, or suggest, I see you at: John Varvatos, John Elliott + Co., Public School, Ovadia & Sons, Grungy Gentleman, and Rag & Bone. Also, don’t you have a movie coming out around the same time?
Amar’e: Yes! I have the New York premiere for Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. It’s my biggest acting part to date. I’m playing a character, but the character is Amar’e Stoudemire. That’s kinda weird, right?
Nic Screws is the style director at Bloomberg and has been reporting all month from the runways of Europe. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter or e-mail her any of your fashion concerns or questions at email@example.com.
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