Himesh Patel, star of Yesterday, shows you how to wear this summer’s coolest trends
It’s the filmic equivalent of a Nadal and Federer Wimbledon final, though perhaps a less likely combination: Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis unite this summer for their film collaboration, Yesterday. It’s a film that’s sort of about The Beatles – and sort of not.
Boyle himself hired 28-year-old Himesh Patel to play the lead, a down-and-out singer-songwriter from Suffolk called Jack Malik. In the film, we meet Malik just as he decides to pack in his failing career as a musician. Then he crashes his bicycle in a blackout and wakes up as the only person who can remember The Beatles.
‘Travis’ Rob Wyn Yates Prism camp collar shirt, £245 by Orlebar Brown
Trend 1: Camp collar 2.0. When the camp collar shirt started trending again, the style emphasis was very much on its Fifties past (muted colours or the occasional Hawaiian prints). This summer, it’s headed into the future with bold shades and graphic patterns. Zingy.
What follows is a joyously far-fetched musical comedy about a young man’s rise to international fame as he capitalises on The Beatles’ back catalogue, and (re)introduces the band’s most famous songs to the world.
‘There was a wide gamut of things [The Beatles] did within their pretty short career as a band that are still untouched by anyone else really,’ says Patel. ‘Name another band who’ve done that much? They were an incomparable cultural force who have seeped into our world in such a profound way. That’s what excites me about the story: if you took them away, what would happen?’
Shirt, £140, by Slowear- Glanshirt; Drawstring trousers, £195, by Mr P; High-top sneakers, £355, by Stella McCartney
Trend 2: Casual-smart trousers. If smart-casual is all about making formalwear more informal, this summer it’s all about doing the opposite. Take trousers – these drawstring slacks have been given a smarter vibe with the kind of tailored cut and sleek fabric that takes them about as far from post-gym attire as possible.
While the actual Beatles don’t feature, another musical force, Ed Sheeran, does, and provides some contemporary context. Sheeran, who hails from Suffolk just like Yesterday’s central character, stars as himself in the film, offering a sense of what life is like for A-List musicians today – how they record, how they deal with management and how their creative process works. ‘It made sense,’ Patel acknowledges, ‘because we’re telling a story about a guy from rural East England who becomes a massive star, and that’s basically Ed’s story.’
Linen shirt, £110, by Gant
Trend 3: Get with the band. They might be called a granddad shirt, but this season’s band-collar long sleevers are far sexier than those Pops would have worn. With pastel shades and trimmer cuts, these shirts are made to be worn with a flash of chest in the sun.
Is it possible Patel himself is also on a similar stratospheric trajectory? ‘It has crossed my mind that life may be beginning to imitate art,’ he muses. ‘There’s been the odd similarity. Since getting the role and finishing the film I’ve been to LA a couple of times and now I’ve got an American agent.’
Not bad for an ex-EastEnders actor, some would say. But while the quest for fame, and the distractions that come along the way, drive the film’s storyline, it’s not what motivates Patel. ‘The crazier things get for Jack,’ he explains, ‘the more he starts to unravel because he’s got the guilt, the weight on his mind that he didn’t actually write these songs. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about that. I am an actor, I haven’t stolen anyone’s acting’.
Jumper, £195, and suede biker, £1,295, both by Johnstons of Elgin; Trousers, £89, by Boss; Khaki Field Mechanical watch, £515, by Hamilton; Trainers, £425, by Corneliani
Trend 4: A new neutral. Blush pink is the neutral shade you didn’t know existed. Sure, it looks great as an accent colour, but just look how well it blends with all the other neutrals that dominate the summer: white, sand and mid-brown.
Drinking a cup of tea after The Jackal’s photoshoot, he is optimistic that his celebrity can be a force for good. He’s an advocate for social change, commending us for including Stella McCartney – a designer whose collections avoid animal-derived fabrics – in the shoot. ‘Yes, it ties in with the fact it’s a film about The Beatles, but she’s doing really positive things in terms of the ethics of clothing. I think the way clothes are made is so important, and how much the people, who are mostly in developing countries, get paid to make clothes for us who live in mostly developed countries’.
Shirt, £310, by Stella McCartney; Trousers, £190, by Barena at mrporter.com
Trend 5: The ‘Frankenshirt’. When it comes to shirting, patchwork is big news this season – and the more those patches artfully clash together, the greater the overall effect. Summer ‘going out’ shirts don’t get cooler than this, party monsters.
Beyond fashion, he also feels a responsibility in terms of the kind of work he chooses to do. Patel’s casting perhaps shows Boyle’s influence on what seems otherwise to be a film covered in Curtis’s cheerily optimistic fingerprints. A South Asian actor playing The Beatles (albeit, a surreal version) signifies a shift where producers are starting to, as Patel puts it, ‘put every type of person in a room together and see who’s the right person for the part.’
Shirt, £245, by Orlebar Brown; Suede jacket, £895, by Kent & Curwen; Trousers, £295, by Slowear; Automatic Hour and Minute watch, £2,565, by Mont Blanc
Trend 6: Go green. We think of green as the summer swap-out for navy. Superbly versatile and easy-to-wear, it will add a freshness to everything already hanging in your wardrobe.
‘Jack wasn’t written for any specific ethnicity, he’s just a character,’ he explains. ‘It turned out I was the right person for the part, and so Jack automatically became of South Asian background.’
He shrugs: ‘His ethnicity was never part of our story, but for me that’s a positive thing. Now we can have a character, and that character can be played by someone of my background, or any background. I’m proud to be part of that movement, and I hope it continues moving in that upward curve. It’s still rare, but I like to think we’re moving in a positive direction.’
He waves his arm at the studio where The Jackal has been photographing him: ‘All of this stuff is fun – this is cool – but I always like to keep everything rooted to the work. I’m not completely surrendering myself to the attention.’
Yesterday is released in cinemas on 28 June