Never seen without a hair out of place or a thread creased, hip-popping boy band JLS are dictating high street trends and ruling the UK charts.
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International celebrity stylist and bespoke fashion editor Mark McMahon is the tall, bearded dandy behind JLS’s trend-setting wardrobe. First graduating from Saint Martins with first class honours back in the 90’s, Mark’s signature aesthetic draws influence from the refined Savile Row style of a quintessential British gentleman. Assisting buffalo boy guerrilla icon Simon Foxton for a hefty proportion of his career, Mark’s talent and learned skills place him amongst the most prestigious of menswear stylists in the industry. Working with a plethora of celebrity and high fashion clients over the years, he counts talents Robyn, Christian Slater, Calvin Harris, James Corden, Pharrell Williams and Juliette Binoche Gieves, and labels Billionaire Boys Club, Topman, Levi’s and Unconditional amongst some of his biggest fans – that’s after Oritsé Williams, Marvin Humes, JB Gill and Aston Merrygold of course. i-D hung out with Mark to find out just how much effort goes into all those crotch-grabbing, two-stepping outfits and accessories, while i-D Fashion Editor Elgar Johnson picked his favourite JLS looks!
How did you first come to be involved with JLS? I began working with the boys through the lovely Simon Foxton. He was styling them and invited me to work alongside him and then eventually suggested I take the band on full time.
How has their style changed since you first began working with them as a band? Simon and I only really started working on the band when the second album was being launched. Building on the work alongside Simon, we started looking at making each boy’s style more defined.
You have worked with a wide variety of magazines, what has been your favourite shoot to date? I love working on shoots for i-D, in particular when I was able to travel to Jamaica and not only be a guest at Jamaican Fashion Week but also shoot a denim story against the amazing atmosphere of Kingston Town.
How does styling a band differ from styling an editorial? You tend to get a more focused brief in music and there are more opinions that need to be considered. This means you do get to meet a wide variety of people in lots of different locations, such as within TV promo, videos, tours and albums.
In what ways have you managed to match their look to their music? This is definitely something I try and do a lot. For ballads – much softer, cleaner and grown up styles come into play. For up-tempo – fresh, colourful, edgier looks come to the fore.
What are the boys like to work with on a personal level? An absolute pleasure, they are very professional, they have a great work ethic and they treat everybody from a top director to a cleaner with the same respect. I have a lot of fun and laughter with all four.
What is your favourite JLS track? ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ or ‘Beat Again’.
Who were the best styled boy band of all time? RUN DMC, A CERTAIN RATIO, NEW EDITION.
Who would you like to work with in the future? Maverick Sabre, Janelle Monae, K-os.
Text: Milly McMahon
Images from left: X factor/ Jingle Bell Ball/ She Makes Me Wanna video ft. Dev/ summer tour/ Comic Relief/ Do you feel what I feel video.