This issue was a delightful surprise. Harry Styles is aptly surnamed, and he had one of the songs of the summer, “Watermelon Sugar” — which is supposedly a euphemism, to the point where I confidently declared the lyric on Twitter to be “Watermelon Sugar Pie,” and… it is “high,” not “pie,” oops — so he’s an extremely logical choice, and yet one that I did not and would never have predicted. This whole thing, from cover to photo shoot to the Hamish Bowles-penned profile, has a sense of spirit that is very refreshing from Vogue. The headline of the article here is “Playtime with Harry Styles,” and that is exactly what the whole thing transmits. He is out there having a great time, and you feel that. I particularly liked this:

At his first meeting with [Harry] Lambert, the stylist proposed “a pair of flares, and I was like, ‘Flares? That’s fucking crazy,’  ” Styles remembers. Now he declares that “you can never be overdressed. There’s no such thing. The people that I looked up to in music—Prince and David Bowie and Elvis and Freddie Mercury and Elton John—they’re such showmen. As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I’ll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don’t feel crazy wearing it. I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it’s like a superhero outfit. Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something.”

In short, he seems thoughtful. Cool. Smart, confident, compelling. And it’s a really welcome chaser to the recent Jason Momoa piece in InStyle, actually; Hamish and Harry, and various cohorts, manage to have a discussion about clothes and style and pushing boundaries without anyone feeling compelled to use the words “comfortable in my masculinity” or “testosterone.” Styles comes across as far less tethered to old stereotypes, or perhaps just less inclined to give credence to them. The photos — there are so many more than I can show you here — could and SHOULD honestly be their own 12-month calendar. Or, turned into a novel. Harry Styles Is A Mood is exactly how I’d like to usher in 2021.

[Photo: Tyler Mitchell; Vogue’s December 2020 issue is available on newsstands nationwide on November 24th.]