Every once in awhile an artist comes along who stops us in our tracks because we're mesmerized by their extraordinary talent and/or originality. Benjamin Clementine fits both categories. On the cover of last Sunday's T Magazine and also the model of the menswear layout between the covers, Benjamin shows off each outfit with refined, classical elegance.
A little background: Clementine was raised with his five siblings by his grandmother in Edmonton, London. After she died when he was 11, he moved in with his parents. Through his teenage years with the public library his place of refuge, Clementine spent his time studying school-work and reading the writings of William Blake, Immanuel Kant and John Locke, the 17th century philosopher.
Moving to Paris at 19, Clementine joined a band, then struck out on his own, making his living as a busker. The musician David Byrne invited Clementine to perform in London at a festival he had curated. Clementine has since gone on to release a debut album, "At Least For Now," which won him both great acclaim and the prestigious Mercury Prize.
When performing a concert, Clementine's soul-stirring tenor is accompanied by the piano, which he plays perched on a stool, wearing a long coat without shoes or shirt. As David Byrne explains in his interview, Unlocking the Mystery of Benjamin Clementine in T Magazine, "Busking helped Clementine become a performer. It taught him to connect his soul with others." And added, "...the type of inquisitive probing we get in his soulful songs, which draw on the work of French performers such as Léo Ferré, Edith Piaf and Henri Salvador. "I wanted to find people who were like me and I did, in the people I was reading." Click on link to Benjamin Clementine's YouTube video for the hauntingly beautiful song London with Paris as the backdrop.
All photography by Craig McDean
Styling by Max Pearmain