1. Whatever problems there may have been at the first show of Outkast’s reunion tour in April, at least one marvelous thing went unnoticed: Big Boi’s outfit.
For the past handful of summers, Big Boi has toured festivals as a solo act. And since 2010, he’s had a stage uniform: a long field shirt with two front pockets, paired with shorts, rendered in durable black, brown, or camo cotton. For Outkast’s first show in 8 years, the look had been re-cast, as a quilted riot of brown, green, and white fabric, with red piping and splashes of desert camo.
The wardrobe shift said a lot without having to say much at all — as part of Outkast, Big Boi would remain his own entity, but he’d bring color, and life, to the partnership.
2. Big Boi’s Coachella look was designed by Dr. Romanelli, a L.A.-based designer who specializes in limited-run, personalized gear. Since that first show, Romanelli’s made Big Boi a bunch of stage looks, like this space-inspired one for Big Guava in Tampa:
Each outfit comes together in just a couple of days, Romanelli said. “On Monday, I’ll cut it. My guy sews it Wednesday and Thursday and then we rush to FedEx it to Big Boi for Friday to make the show. It’s been hectic. He’s letting me freestyle. To me, that the ultimate creative opportunity for a designer. To be able to just run with ideas.”
3. For Coachella, Big Boi asked Romanelli for an outfit inspired by daredevil Evel Knievel.
4. The outfits also incorporate scraps from military clothing, a nod to Big Boi’s “General Patton” nickname and, maybe, his father’s military service.
“The first two outfits I did were kind of Evel Knievel, with a military element infused.
So they felt like U.S.A., stars and stripes, but also camo and mysterious,” Romanelli said. “There’s this company Alpha Industries, a United States company that’s been making military gear forever, they’ve been sending me some specific requests.”
5. Dr. Romanelli has done patchwork stage outfits for other artists, and says a similar piece would usually go for for 3 to 4,000 bucks.
The above coat was made by Romanelli for rapper Danny Brown, in collaboration with Carhartt WIP.
6. In this case, Romanelli and Big are “working closely” together. Big choses the color palette for each look, then sends Romanelli a suit to tear up and piece back together. This is the red suit he wore at Bottlerock in California:
7. This white suit for Hangout in Alabama had a tropical vibe:
And stars running down its sleeves, like an Evel Knievel suit.
8. For Governor’s Ball, they went pink:
“I worked in some vintage denim and this really beautiful old, red and blue flannel shirt from the ’80s, kind of on the Evel Knievel thing, but it was so faded out that the red had turned to pink,” Romanelli explained. “Then I took this old North Face jacket from the ’70s that had a reflective, like, 3M material. I had this North Face material in my archives forever, and I worked that into the jacket. For no rhyme or reason other than it would be reflective when the light hit it.”
10. Meanwhile, Andre 3000’s been performing in a platinum wig and a jumpsuit he designed himself.
11. Big and Dre’s stage looks don’t exactly match, but they totally don’t have to. Because Outkast is all about two whole individuals, coming together to be themselves.
“These guys are icons, they’re onstage in front of thousands of people at these festivals, and it’s almost like they’re putting on their armor,” Romanelli said.