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The reggaeton star's new line is all about Colombia and the American Dream.
Maluma, the bad boy in pink of reggaetón, has always been unapologetically himself.
The star grew up in Medellín, Colombia, in a culture that is traditionally very masculine and dove into a music genre that tends to be even more focused on machismo—though female singers like Rosalía, Karol G, and Becky G are starting to change that. But his sensibility toward his global community (his charity, El Arte de los Sueños, provides kids with access to the arts), the way he carries himself, and the way he dresses have together made him a rebel in the industry—in a very good way.
"I have always been focused on being me and growing through self-expression," Maluma, 28, says in a conversation with BAZAAR.com, speaking of his new gender-fluid fashion collection for Macy's.
Apart from music, his art form of choice is fashion. His often eccentric, and always pleasantly surprising, style has elevated him to a heartthrob status of its own category at a time when reggaetón and its artists are no longer considered "Latin Urban" but part of the global mainstream. Think manic pixie dream boy, but with hotter beats.
At the 2019 Met Gala, the "Felices los 4" singer—whose real name is Juan Luis Londoño Arias—gave a modern nod to Old Hollywood by wearing a bedazzled beige-and-white suit by Moschino. In 2021, he walked the carpet in a fire-engine red leather suit by Versace. He also looks great in pink. This year, he was photographed for a campaign as the new face of Versace, wearing a hot pink suit that no one will ever get over. And during his Papi Juancho Europe Tour, he's served some unforgettable pink Valentino fall/winter 2022 looks, including a glittery floor-length coat with matching gloves, trousers, shoes, and glasses, and a sporty, full-monochrome look paired with diamond jewelry.
"One story my mom always shares is that when I was eight years old, I dressed myself and went to school in cowboy boots," Maluma recalls.
Now, the star is debuting a collection of his own, in partnership with Macy's. Royalty by Maluma is filled with luxurious, vibrant, tropical pieces made to be worn by men, women, and everyone else—a reflection of the artist's own wardrobe. "Honestly, why place a label to fashion?" Maluma says. "For example, I love pearls and have worn them, and included them in certain pieces of my new collection with Macy's. Why does self-expression within fashion need to have departments or be in segments? I don't believe in that."
He adds that he loves the fact that the collection is so fluid, and says he often incorporates traditionally female pieces (remember the Chanel pink cardigan of our dreams?) into his looks and thinks nothing of it.
His collection, which launches today, March 24, includes various two-piece sets in beach- and rainforest-inspired prints, genderless cardigans, pajama-like monochrome looks, open-knit shorts, and acid-washed jeans. The joy of Medellín culture comes through in the bright color story and flattering, youthful silhouettes. And, yes, everything can be styled with pearls.
"The entire collection is my baby. I love every piece, and each one represents different parts of what Medellín is to me," Maluma says. "The blue denim look for men, which women can wear as well, represents the blue sky in between the mountains of Medellín."
The star tells BAZAAR that design has always been on his mind—even as a child, as he experimented with his clothes and accessories, he also loved to draw. Now, he has a friend and confidant of style in Nigerian designer and stylist Ugo Mozie, also known for his bold fashion sense.
"Ugo and I collaborate, and his culture from Nigeria has influenced me personally. His attention to details in colors and accessories, I love. We have deep fashion talks about our influences and incorporate it into my evolving style," Maluma says. The singer adds that he's an admirer of Puerto Rican salsa legend Héctor Lavoe and how he wore wide bell-bottoms with fitted silk button-downs; meanwhile, Mozie loves Michael Jackson, "So he would suggest accessories with this original thought, and we would add gloves," Maluma says. "We share a passion for combining our fashion cultures."
Maluma's style, though very contemporary, often gives flashes of vintage cool guy. He said he's inspired by so many people—including Lenny Kravitz—and eras of fashion, but lately has been especially into the '70s and '80s: "the wide fitted pants with chunky heeled boots, tinted colored eyewear, simple jewelry, and colorful patterns."
Asked what his favorite looks have been since he stepped into the spotlight, he says, "I love everything Valentino has designed for me. Pierpaolo Piccioli is a genius. I loved his show in Paris. Recently, one of my other favorite looks was the one for the EMAs, where I wore a full black leather look by Roberto Cavalli with so many belts across the entire look."
And who can say no to Maluma is head-to-toe leather?
Since his career spiked on the global music charts in 2011, the artist has become a regular on red carpets and a muse to various high-end designers. He's a producer, a movie star (Marry Me, with Jennifer Lopez), and has collaborated with musicians including Ricky Martin, J Balvin, and The Weeknd. He has won a Latin Grammy Award, an MTV Video Music Award, and two Latin American Music Awards, and he's been nominated for a Grammy.
This evening, Maluma will release a new single called "Mojando Asientos," featuring new Colombian artist Feid. He tells BAZAAR that he is especially proud of this project, as he directed the music video himself, with the help of creative directors Phraa and Tes, through his new production company, Royalty Films. "We will be releasing more work directed by me and provide an opportunity for young Latin and Colombian creators to step out of the box visually," Maluma says.
In terms of fashion, the singer says that "of course" he will continue designing following the drop of this first collection. "This is not stopping here," he says, adding that he is already finalizing other collections with Macy's.
"I am excited about this launch especially with Macy's because it's a representation of the American Dream, and I want my fans from all parts of the world to dream, and make them come true. I hope this collaboration inspires them," Maluma says. "The moral here is to be yourself and not apologize for it."