Meet The Stylist Behind Lewis Hamilton’s Risk-Taking F1 Style
hIncreasingly, style savvy athletes are employing a pop star approach to how they dress. Their highly photographed jaunts from car to the basketball court, football stadium, or racetrack have been cunningly retooled into a de facto catwalk of sorts. There’s NBA player Kyle Kuzma in a dramatically oversized Raf Simons sweater fit for a giant. NFL player DeVonta Smith in a dapper array of “sunday best” attire. British football player Dominic Calvert-Lewin tapping in-demand stylist Harry Lambert, whose clients include Harry Styles and Emma Corrin, for preppy suits.
But perhaps no athlete has mastered the ever-increasing confluence of sport and style better than F1 racer Lewis Hamilton. As his stylist Eric McNeal told Vogue recently, “We really treat the track like it’s a fashion show.”
The carefully formulated and risk-loving approach between McNeal and Hamilton was on full display during last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix. For the series of races—which drew an international crowd including Shakira, Tom Cruise, Emily Ratajkowski, and more—Hamilton held no punches with his off-duty fashion. To kick things off, the 38-year-old donned a custom-made, purple sequined boiler suit by Rick Owens, paired with chunky platform boots. He also wore pieces by Commission, Collina Strada, and Louis Vuitton men’s over the weekend.
The fabulously ostentatious Rick Owens boiler suit especially was something one might expect to see, say, on-stage at a stadium concert. But Hamilton, who takes big swings with his outfits, simply wore it for his arrival at the Grand Prix. For what it’s worth, the luminous outfit seemed to set a great tone— Hamilton rose seven places in F1 rankings at the series.
The weekend was merely a strong continuation of Hamilton’s full-throated embrace of daring fashion on the paddocks, meaningfully chipping away at the long-tail of machismo within the sport. He’s caught eyes in coordinated pleated Issey Miyake sets, a Burberry kilt, and oversized hot-pink ensemble by Valentino.
Self-esteem is a chief consideration, his stylist says. “When you’re in season, your confidence can be all over the place,” McNeal said, alluding to racers’ ever-shifting spots in rankings. “So I’m trying to boost his mood, whether that’s a color or designer that we really want to support.”
McNeal and Hamilton first began working together in 2022, when they met on set during the race star’s Vanity Fair cover shoot. (For that, Hamilton wore another hot-pink number, this time a suit, by Valentino. “He loves color,” McNeal says.) The two connected immediately. “We really hit it off—even on a friend level. We have the same belief system and the same values.”
It also helps that Hamilton is game to try pretty much anything. “He’s so brave in the things that he wears,” McNeal says of Hamilton, who has come to operate as something of a north star for many menswear enthusiasts. “Sometimes I’m like, “Okay, too crazy!” And Lewis’ like, “No, no, let’s try it. I think I can pull it off.” (A similar exchange occurred around the Rick Owens suit). Hamilton and McNeal schedule two “really big” four hour fittings each month, where they’ll walk away 30 to 40 potential looks for various outings. “It’s almost like sparring almost,” McNeal says of the intensive fittings. “He has such a deep love for fashion.”
There are a few things Hamilton, a vocal plant-based vegan and animal rights activist, will avoid: including leather and suede. “The only exception we make are with shoes, especially dress shoes,” McNeal said, noting the dearth of suitable alternatives.
As the race season continues, fans can expect more showstopping one-of-one looks from Hamilton. In the pipeline are custom looks by Prada, Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner, Bianca Saunders, Zegna, Willy Chavarria, Paloma Spain, and more. One exciting throughline: snazzy boiler suits. “Lewis and I were talking and we wondered, what if we asked different designers to do their takes on the boiler suit. So we’re basically trying that with some younger, independent designers.”
This is the first time McNeal has worked with an athlete client. In the past, he worked under Jason Rembert, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, Rachel Johnson, and on editorial and brand projects. He’s excited about the meaningful influence and impact his styling for Hamilton can have on the fashion choices other men take. “Right now, men are so willing to take more risks with their fashion,” he said. “I’m excited to see how that shapes the future of menswear. Even now when you look at the NBA tunnel, where all of these players are so flamboyant and over-the-top. There’s so much developing.”
The fruits of the duo’s experimentation have already shown. “We’ll be somewhere like Zurich or Australia and all of these kids are dressing like Lewis Hamilton and say how much they love him. It’s crazy.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue
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