How John Malkovich became an underground menswear designer

One of the most enigmatic actors of his generation, John Malkovich has enjoyed a lifelong curiosity and love for fashion.

Twice nominated for an Oscar, and the leading man of over 70 films, including Dangerous Liaisons, Of Mice and Men, and Spike Jonze's 1999 hit, Being John Malkovich, the thespian views fashion in the same way he does film – a vehicle for both daring and discreet self-expression.

How it all began

After teaming up with website builder Squarespace on a project in 2016, Malkovich approached the media platform to collaborate with him on his new eponymous menswear range – The John Malkovich Line.

The collection, which is designed and overseen by 63 year-old Malkovich, is produced in Paris and available online. It draws on a diverse mix of global references, fine art, Malkovich's own elegant aesthetic and his travels broad.

The actor documented his latest career move in a short film called John's Journey.  "I'm always a figure in someone else's dream, I'd really rather sometimes make my own figures and make my own dreams," he says. "I never made my life about what other people thought of me or what I should or shouldn't do."

A stylish history

An avid collaborator, it isn't Malkovich's first foray into fashion. He collaborated with American photographer Sandro Miller for over 17 years on the book, , producing and posing for a series of portraits based on iconic photographs. He is an erudite costume designer, has written and directed fashion films for British designer Bella Freud, and collaborated on design projects with Bailey Hats and watchmaker Richard Mille. In the 80s he walked the runway for Comme des Garçon, and fronted advertising campaigns for fashion houses like Prada and Armani.    

His previous menswear brands have included the elegant 1930's- inspired collection Uncle Kimono, and the more colourful and contemporary . The latter spurned a collaboration in 2012 with Pirelli, , that included standout running shoes with cool and innovative pneumatic rubber soles, and the following year, a men's beachwear capsule range for yoox.com.

A passionate fabric collector for over 30 years, Malkovich is a zealous artist and collector of old textile remnants. Having used fabrics in past collections, he created print exclusively for them. It features his original drawings based on an old fabric scrap he discovered during costume fittings for the series Blackbeard.

An artist's touch

Not surprisingly, Malkovich's artwork features heavily in his new line, most of which he sketches whilst travelling and filming. With a contemplative approach, he can reportedly spend days focusing purely on fabric selection, which he sources from his favourite fabric mills in Italy.

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Key pieces feature artfully placed miniature tartans, kaleidoscopic patterns, bold stripes and Mr Mudd sketches (a quirky-faced man named after his film production company), and serve to prevent the range from taking itself too seriously.

Laid back luxury

Like past collections, The John Malkovich Line features a simplistic palette – cream, navy, brick and heather. Silhouettes feature cool contours, functional design and uncomplicated elegance with a strong European jet set influence.

Made up of light, classic menswear archetypes he has remixed and remodeled, standouts include lived-in classics with a twist; an off-white cable-knit cardigan with two-tone ribbed collar, a blue button-down shirt with mother of pearl buttons and two detachable collars, smartly striped Bermuda shorts, and Mao collared jackets that can be worn with the collar flipped or flat. Beautiful printed scarves are added with a flourish to enliven the collections' classically timeless shapes.

Check out the gallery above to see the current 2017 collection from The John Malkovich Line.