The Oscar-nominated actor for Bohemian Rhapsody opens up about how he achieves his impeccable style

By Colleen Kratofil Sharon Kanter
February 24, 2019 07:50 PM

He’s experimented with suits in an array of vibrant colors and daring patterns, but for the 2019 Academy Awards, Rami Malek opted for a classic three-piece black tuxedo, a custom Saint Laurent look by designer Anthony Vaccarello.

The Best Actor nominee for Bohemian Rhapsody, 37, arrived at the biggest red carpet in the world arm-in-arm with his co-star and girlfriend, Lucy Boynton, who looked elegant in a violet satin off-the-shoulder gown with black velvet bow accents, which she paired with Cartier jewels and complementary lilac makeup and glamorous waves.

They both accessorized with Cartier jewels, she in diamond earrings and rings, and he in a Cartier watch and cufflinks.

Lucy Boynton and Rami Malek
Steve Granitz/WireImage

While his bowtie looked slightly crooked on the red carpet, Lady Gaga adjusted the look before the Oscars ceremony began.

His stylist Ilaria Urbinati tells PEOPLE his Oscars look was inspired by “an old pic of David Bowie in a three piece tux with that old school vest, but he also wanted to be really really timeless,” she said. That’s how they landed on the custom Saint Laurent look.

The look came together last minute, she said. “I had a bunch of emails back and forth with the YSL team about the custom look –tweaking things here and there,” she told PEOPLE. “For example, what kind of vest we wanted, what kind of bow tie and changing the shirt collar — it’s all about the details. Then they sent over sketches to approve. Three days before the Oscars, he tried it on and we made a bunch of adjustments to make it fit perfectly and then tried it one last time the day before Oscars.”

Lady Gaga fixed Rami Malek's bowtie before the Oscars ceremony started.
Kevin Winter/Getty

Before the ceremony, Boynton and Malek attended pre-Oscar parties all weekend showing off their coordinating chic style.

On Friday, they attended a dinner in honor of their film Bohemian Rhapsody hosted by Vanity Fair in matching black looks — she in a polka-dot Celine dress and he in a Saint Laurent look featuring a velvet jacket.

At a party for Bohemian Rhapsody sponsored by Vanity Fair and Genesis on Feb. 22.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Of course, it’s no surprise the man who played Freddie Mercury knows the power of impeccable style. He’s has developed a certain affinity for experimenting with prints, colors and slim fits, and because of that, continuously lands on best dressed lists.

“I love dressing up for every occasion,” he told PEOPLE of his approach for our Red Carpet Special, on newsstands now. “There’s something really nice about walking into a situation and looking your best, no matter what that situation is.”

Malek said he looks to some of the industry’s finest actors of the past for inspiration, like “Hollywood icons like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen,” he said. “They dressed to the nines, but they did it their own way.”

Paul Newman, Rami Malek, Steve McQueen
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He’s taken a page out of their style books with his anything-but-boring approach to suiting and casual-wear, as seen from his bright red suit at the Met Gala and punchy playful separates at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (below).

John Shearer/Getty

Of course, he has help sourcing the pieces from his superstar stylist Ilaria Urbinati. “I like to think I have my own sensibility and style, and she helps to enhance it in a certain way,” he said about their working relationship.

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

RELATED: Rami Malek On What He Was Most Surprised to Learn About Freddie Mercury

“She’s funny too,” he said. “One time I put on a somewhat risqué outfit — it wasn’t a generic tuxedo — and she was like, ‘What do you want your kids to think about this when they look back on this?’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ And I wore it.”

Urbinati, on the other hand, calls Malek “her little muse.”

“We have an amazing rapport,” she told PEOPLE. “We have a really incredible friendship and everything we do comes from this place of understanding each other and understanding how he wants to be seen, which is classic, timeless and old-school.”

“He wants people to not look back and feel, ‘Oh, I was being trendy’ or ‘I was trying to be interesting for the sake of being interesting,'” the stylist continued. “He really just wants to feel strong in the clothes and he doesn’t want the clothes necessarily to distract from him in the moment. It’s more about him feeling good.”

David Fisher/BAFTA/REX/Shutterstock

She also said his approach is less-is-more.

“Right now he’s in a very minimalist phase, so for him it’s always like less, less, less,” Urbinati told PEOPLE. “So for me it’s trying to find a way to do that in a way that he’ll feel special and stands out, like through the use of color and just in cut but everything is simple. We don’t do bells and whistles.”

Joe Pugliese

“Rami does men’s style in a very fashion forward way without ever looking like he’s peacocking,” she said. “He also has a really true understanding of the whole thing. Like he knows the brands. He knows who the creative directors are in each brand. He’s very knowledgeable. He’s done his homework. He cares about it as an artist and respects the brands as an artists, and he comes out from that place. That’s why I think he comes off so fashion forward even though he’s very simple. He comes at it from a place like he’s educated in the subject.”

Donato Sardella/Getty

RELATED: Inside Lady Gaga’s Glam Style Squad, the Haus of Gaga: ‘We Are Like a Family’

It’s that type of fearless fashion sense that made Malek one to watch all award season long. “I just want to look good going out,” he said. “I don’t want to get too caught up in it.”

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