Let’s Unpack Jeremy Strong and Frank Ocean’s Curious Friendship
The actor Jeremy Strong arrived at the 2023 Met Gala last Monday wearing, as he often does, the color brown—specifically, a Prada waistcoat the same sheeny hue as a Medjool date. Under the collar of his frilly pale green shirt, nestled against the ruffles, lay a spiky talisman the color of a tennis ball. A particular shade of neon green that to mindful Met Gala watchers or Frank Ocean fans might have seemed familiar, because it’s the same green as the uncanny robot baby that Ocean brought to the Met two years prior. The shape, too, could have been a giveaway: The orb-dotted pendant is a signature of Ocean’s mysterious luxury jewelry brand Homer, which the elusive chanteur founded in 2021. (Ocean wore a similar diamond-covered “sphere legs” piece to that 2021 Met, which Drake later purchased for $1.9 million.)
Jeremy Strong, the method Succession star, wearing a necklace designed by Frank Ocean, a fellow misunderstood (and oftentimes persnickety) creative, to the fashion Olympics? Either one of their fan bases could be the first to tell you that this makes sense. It even, as the actor himself might put it, makes sense dramaturgically.
“I chose the piece because I love what Frank stands for as an artist and a man. Authenticity, audacity, artistry,” Strong told GQ via email this week. “I was on a plane back from LA on Sunday and realized I wanted to wear it with what Mrs. Prada had designed for me so I reached out to him. I felt it was the missing keystone.”
Clothing is integral to Strong’s dramatic practice, as he has said many, many times. For the HBO drama Succession, the actor worked with costume designer Michelle Matland to decide how his character, Kendall Roy, should dress. He also has a personal style practice that mainly involves dressing in brown, a color he has described as being “a metaphor for the rest of my life” and “monastic chic.” Even in fashion, the theoretical is never far behind. Referring to the name of Ocean’s brand, Strong said in his email: “In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus says, ‘My Name Is Nobody.’ To me, that is the beginning of all creative work.” (A representative for Ocean declined to comment for this story.)
As it turns out, Jeremy and Frank have been pals for some time now. Most recently, onlookers spotted Strong watching from the artists’ VIP section during Ocean’s divisive set at Coachella last month. But it goes back further than that: In 2020, Strong told Variety that the musician texted him a crying face emoji after watching the Succession episode where Kendall performs his arresting “L to the OG” rap in honor of his dad Logan’s big business anniversary. In his March GQ cover story, Strong described collaborating with Ocean on a creative project a few years ago that resulted in a limited run of T-shirts and posters for Ocean’s multimedia-apparel brand Blonded, featuring a motif of a suit-wearing Strong as “the Chairman.” The same Chairman motif decorates the facade of the Homer boutique on Bowery in Manhattan; it also appears, if you look closely, on the poster for the PrEP+ dance parties Ocean hosted in New York in 2019.
Though perhaps derived from Kendall Roy, Strong’s Chairman seems to be an as-yet-unelaborated character in the broader Blonded/Homer universe. (Ocean stans have their own theories.) That said, one can easily imagine Kendall playing a song like Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” into the ground, mouthing every lyric about white lines and fake friends like it was written just for him. The track’s final verse, about drunkenly half-threatening to jump off a rooftop ledge “when the market’s down like 60 stories,” feels particularly Kendall-coded: Do they sew wings on tailored suits?
While filming Succession these last few years, Strong took to wearing a symbolic amulet: a dog tag necklace designed by the American artist Rashid Johnson in the style of his frenetic Anxious Men paintings. Per New York Magazine, Strong owns two of these pendants: one for him, one for Ken. He’s made a habit of sporting Kendall signifiers in real life, from his many pairs of Lanvin sneakers to the freaky Richard Mille watch he also wore at the Met last Monday. Will we see Kendall wearing Homer or bumping a Frank song in the backseat of his chauffeured car before the series is over? Will the Chairman outlive the Roys? Will Jeremy and Frank collaborate again? Either way, their shared quest for self-decoration will surely march on.
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