For nearly five decades, Robin Williams was America’s king of comedy. Everyone has their own most memorable movie of his. For some it’s Good Will Hunting; to others it’s Mrs Doubtfire. But we all know the real legends come to the conclusion that his finest work is, without a shadow of a doubt, Flubber. And that’s not just because the film slaps, but because its lead star rocked up to the premiere wearing an unfathomably and unnecessarily cool Issey Miyake fashion look.
You see, while his position as a Hollywood funnyman might feel like a dealbreaker when set against his ability to dress himself, he’s consistently proved the rule wrong. Up until his death in 2014, he continued to be both hilarious and stylish, bringing Jean Paul Gaultier to the runways and BAPE into his personal wardrobe. Here are the iconic outfits of his that live in our mind rent free.
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In New York, circa 1970
Before he became a beloved name in 90s family movies, Robin Williams was a stand-up comic known for his outlandish sense of humour. His outfits in the 70s reflected that zany character, frequently resembling a kid’s entertainer while delivering zingy adult comedy. Like this outfit: a skin-tight long sleeve t-shirt with multicoloured patterns. It’s giving clowncore.
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Performing at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, 1979
In the late 70s, Robin’s fame as a comic skyrocketed, with his peers — the likes of David Letterman — literally fearing for their careers as a consequence. He staged an HBO comedy special, Off The Wall, but as notable as the comedy was the outlandish look he wore throughout it. As he reeled off gags, Robin held his trousers up with rainbow suspenders, peppered with pins of flowers, whales and sheriff badges. The t-shirt, too, was interesting: a tight-fitting number with a black ribbed neckline and sleeves framing the blown up, porcelain-like face of a woman printed on the front. Who is she? What’s her story?
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At The Roxy in Holywood, 1979
A year after his HBO special, Robin had grown accustomed to rocking up to the opening of friend’s major events, so much so that the idea of ‘dressing up’ was thrown out the window. Instead, his red carpet looks were suitably low key. Like this one, which he wore to the first night of Martin Mull’s comedy show at the Roxy: a navy bomber jacket — again peppered with pins — and a plum and navy beret.
At a party, 1996
The same year he collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola and Jennifer Lopez (you read that right) on the movie Jack, Robin Williams made a miraculous red carpet statement by rocking up to an event wearing this iconic number by Jean Paul Gaultier. A trompe l’oeil print shirt, emblazoned with the print of a man’s muscular chest, it leaned into the playful parts of Robin’s character.
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At the ‘Flubber’ premiere, 1997
Yep, the pièce de résistance in the Robin Williams wardrobe journey. In 1997, after years of leaning into the playful parts of his style, Robin went full hypebeast in this AW96 Issey Miyake jacket, part of a collection of military-style looks, with a concealed hood, cargo pockets and a back pouch large enough to store a notebook. The jacket is now considered a key part of fashion history, with designers often emulating Miyake’s immaculate creation. Fancy copping one for yourself? Start saving: it goes for $5000, if not more, on Grailed.
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In Soho, London, 2002
Today, A Bathing Ape is one of the most hyped brands in the world, in part due to the 2010s streetwear boom, but most significantly thanks to the rise of its founder Nigo, who’s since ascended to the high ranks of Kenzo. But back in 2002, BAPE was definitely an IYKYK thing, and celebrities — never mind comedians — seldom wore it. Of course, being someone who knows his fashion history, it makes perfect sense that Robin would be attuned to their stuff: spotted on the streets of Manhattan, he was pictured wearing a BAPE short-sleeve camo shirt and a colourway of Nike Viotech Dunks that had, at that point, only been available for sale in Japan.
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In Manhattan, New York, 2009
It’s funny, so many of the techwear boys of the early 2020s would have been raised watching the movies of Robin Williams as kids. Little did they know that the man himself was donning that stuff a decade before they were. In 2009, Robin was wrapped up for winter in New York in the J-16 jacket from Acronym when a paparazzi caught him, paired with The North Face gloves, a beanie and wrap-around shades.