Welcome to Celeb Look of the Week! An MR column wherein one member of our editorial team, once a week, waxes poetic about one recently worn celeb outfit they can’t stop thinking about. For this installment, Mallory examines the Frank Ocean’s Instagram selfies.
Selfies are attention-seeking. They lack mystery. They’re brazen as hell. In other words, they are the least Frank Ocean thing ever. Or so you might think.
But no. Last November, like a long-awaited album appearing out of thin air, Frank Ocean dropped @blonded on Instagram. And he didn’t just create a new account with a corny “Is this thing on?” caption. (Reader, he would never….) Instead he unlocked dozens of posts that were previously private, and in doing so revealed not only that he’d had an Instagram account for some time, but that he posts selfies on said Instagram account, and that they are objectively very, very cute. I’d go so far as to say they are the best selfies Instagram has to offer.
What’s so great about them? I think it’s that they feel like a good-natured inside joke about selfies. There’s something to his smile—whether it’s a barely-there smirk or a full grin—that makes me feel as if I’m in on something. It’s like he considered not partaking out of shyness, but, ultimately, couldn’t help letting loose. I think of Frank’s selfies as cannonballs that are so fun and splashy that, in the end, he forgot he ever had to work himself up to jump in.
I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing why they feel so right (too much time? Who’s to say!), and I think it’s because there’s an intimacy and emotional purity to Frank’s selfies that perfectly track with who he is as an artist. Like his music, the overall vibe of his selfies is somehow simultaneously nostalgic and totally of-the-moment. The images often have such a tenderness to them that they already feel like a wistful memory, and then, suddenly, I’m jolted back to the present day by a strong desire to buy the yellow puffer coat he is wearing or whatever. (The same thing happens when I listen to “Ivy,” if you swap “buying a puffer” for “texting someone I should not be texting.”) After Blonde came out, he somehow managed to turn an incredibly dreamy, personal album into a festival stage show that still had an air of privacy. It makes sense, then, that he figured out how to make selfies for 1.7 million people feel like secrets.
The selfies themselves aren’t the only secrets, though—I also love how they often coyly reveal other things going on in the background. (This also very much checks out with how he operates more generally.) Take his debut photo: What is that I can just barely see in the left-hand corner? Oh, it’s a socked foot belonging to a Wolfgang Tillman print. Of course it is! The heart swells.
What else do Frank Ocean selfies reveal?
That he’d definitely be fun to shop with.
That he owns The Greatest Selfie Mirror of All Time.
That sometimes he’d like to get closer than the Sottsass mirror allows.
That he will solemnly indulge in lesser mirrors.
And of course elevator mirrors.
That he approaches jet lag like everything else in his life–creatively.
That he is patient and calm during times of duress. (I don’t know if this meets Merriam Webster’s definition of a selfie but it meets mine.)
That he is on Snapchat, too, apparently. *Takes a deep, deep breath*
Sometimes Frank posts selfies to Stories as well, and I love those too—the even more intimate nature and ephemerality of that platform feels very him. (More than once I have urgently tried to forward one along to a friend with some kind of asinine praise affixed and accidentally sent it directly back to Frank. Sorry, Frank!) Clearly, he’s a style icon, and I could break down each look in these photos and we could all try to snag the pieces on Grailed (since he’s likely already caused them to sell out elsewhere). I could even set up a Kickstarter account to request donations for the Sottsass mirror. ($30 gets you your own selfie but you have to tag me.) But no. Frank’s selfies can’t be copied and they can’t be matched. And that’s because they’re not about what’s in the photo in the literal sense—they’re simply who he is.
Photos via @blonded.