Introduction

Distinctive, individual and striking – and that’s just his name. Mboko Ndimba Mobutu has worked as a fashion editor and stylist for the menswear section of the GHUBAR online magazine since 2010. Achieving this at the tender age of twenty-one shows how early his prodigious talent matured.

At first glance, his style appears to be classic with a twist, but such a ubiquitous generalisation doesn’t do justice to the depth of style Mobutu assembles in such a unique manner.

With an insatiable appetite for experience and a zealous drive for perfection, Mobutu’s character furnishes as much as it completes his overall personal style. And that is what makes him worthy of a place among some esteemed names in our style icons series.

Mboko Ndimba Mobutu

Mobutu is a man of many talents, with skills in illustration and writing, and an eye for a photograph. I can personally relate to his desire to improve his writing as a way to help better understand and be exposed to “innovative” points of view. There is no surprise that some photos “speak” to him, as his appreciation and assimilation of aesthetics is clearly evident in both his work and personal style.

Mobutu’s personal style remains grounded by classic pieces, yet is guided by an impartial, open mind that sifts through the good and the bad of current fashion to strike the perfect balance between timeless and contemporary. It is then further manipulated by sprightly, youthful hands to add an exuberant, wholly individual edge.

Mobutu himself describes his look as “playful, refined and gentleman-like”. He is a man that is clearly proud of his African heritage, whilst also influenced by preppy ideals and his Parisian lifestyle.

Paris is home to two very opposing aesthetics, and few looks in between. Parisian chic infiltrates Mobutu’s personal style, with classic slim cuts and timeless pieces such as the stone trench and khaki chinos often setting the foundations of his outfits.

The darker side (literally) of French fashion features more of a biker vibe and Mobutu has, indeed, been captured in an all-black ensemble that includes black skinny jeans and a black blazer.

Mboko Ndimba Mobutu - Parisian InfluenceThe two distinct sides of Parisian style are clear to see within the majority of Moboko’s outfits.

Parisian tailoring is typically slim on the bottom and boxy, or at least with a strong shoulder, on top, which can be seen in many of the pictures in the lookbook below. This isn’t ideal for all body types, but it certainly adds masculinity to Mobutu’s eclectic look and lean frame.

Another strong influence on Mobutu’s look is preppy style. Tweed, brogues, relaxed tailoring and club ties are all signature preppy pieces that can be found in our icon’s wardrobe. It is much more than just the clothes though; his penchant for going sockless and rolling up the hems conveys an attitude reminiscent of stylish collegiate members of the Ivy League.

Preppy style is very much the embodiment of classic with a twist. Together with Mobutu’s African heritage, his style relies on “mixing and pulling off not necessarily easy or obvious combinations that most people wouldn’t dare”. As a result, Mobutu manages to effortlessly pair ikat and paisley together like they’re brother and sister.

Further evidence of Mobutu’s youthful dishevelment of timeless pieces is his tendency to wear his trousers quite low, and certainly skinny. This innate confidence in his own styling ability is further emphasised by the way he juxtaposes silhouettes as well as patterns:

Mboko Ndimba Mobutu Lookbook

However, perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Mobutu’s style is that it is honest in its assembly. Just like the man, he doesn’t take himself too seriously when getting dressed and therefore avoids the pitfall of many stylists, who often try too hard to assert their credentials by going overboard.

This is an outlook all of us should remember as we get dressed.

Inspired By Pieces
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Light Wash Denim ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Light Wash Denim Shirt
  • Mr. Rick Tailor Herringbone Single-breasted Linen Jacket 148380Mr. Rick Tailor Herringbone Single-breasted Linen Jacket 148380
  • J.crew Knitted Cotton Crew Neck SweaterJ.crew Knitted Cotton Crew Neck Sweater
  • Orlebar Brown Griffon Cotton TrousersOrlebar Brown Griffon Cotton Trousers
  • Tan Worker BeltTan Worker Belt
  • Topman Orange Skinny Two Piece SuitTopman Orange Skinny Two Piece Suit
  • River Island Blue Aztec Stripe Turn Up ShortsRiver Island Blue Aztec Stripe Turn Up Shorts
  • River Island Blue Tribal Print Short Sleeve ShirtRiver Island Blue Tribal Print Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Ted Baker Skoling Satchel BagTed Baker Skoling Satchel Bag
  • Balenciaga Creased-leather PouchBalenciaga Creased-leather Pouch
  • Paul Smith Harlequin SocksPaul Smith Harlequin Socks
  • Gucci Felt Fedora Hat 158658Gucci Felt Fedora Hat 158658
  • Topman Stone Trench Coat Topman Stone Trench Coat
  • Jack & Jones Edward Chino ShortsJack & Jones Edward Chino Shorts
  • J.crew Lightweight Cotton ShirtJ.crew Lightweight Cotton Shirt
  • American Apparel Blazer EyeglassAmerican Apparel Blazer Eyeglass
  • Bass Weejuns Layton Tassel Loafer In BurgundyBass Weejuns Layton Tassel Loafer In Burgundy
  • Allsaints Merit ShoeAllsaints Merit Shoe
Inspired By: Mboko Ndimba Mobutu
Outfit One

The first thing that stands out about Mobutu is how well he uses bright colours or sandy, khaki neutrals to enhance his dark features. This skill is harder than you think, but our brilliant breakdown of colour by Matt Allinson will help you achieve similar success.

In this instance, the colour palette is rather subdued, but we can use the tie pin on the shirt as well as the handkerchief to add other points of interest. It’s also worth remembering that style points can be gained from what isn’t there – like socks.

The white shirt would contrast wonderfully against dark, olive or (in our current climate) tanned skin, and is in keeping with an outfit based on tailored clothing with clean lines – assembled in a manner that induces a relaxed vibe.

The loafers are an important part of this look as they emphasise the underlying preppy influence and provide a louche touch:

  • Asos Smart Shirt With Tie PinAsos Smart Shirt With Tie Pin
  • Topman Orange Skinny Suit JacketTopman Orange Skinny Suit Jacket
  • Reiss Cindersaur Geometric Cuboid Print Pocket Square Burnt OrangeReiss Cindersaur Geometric Cuboid Print Pocket Square Burnt Orange
  • Asos Plaited BeltAsos Plaited Belt
  • Reiss Wicker Turn Up Dye Shorts Mid BrownReiss Wicker Turn Up Dye Shorts Mid Brown
  • H By Hudson Pancho Weave Loafers In BrownH By Hudson Pancho Weave Loafers In Brown
Outfit Two

This second outfit involves working two seemingly opposing aesthetics together; one of Mobutu’s strongest skills.

The patterned shirt below is a brilliant piece as it makes a statement despite being within the same colour tones. On top, the belted cardigan is bang on trend and an indulgent item that strikes a balance between smart and casual with wonderful audacity. Other cardigans can be worn with a belt, á la Mobutu himself, whilst an unstructured blazer is a particularly nonchalant alternative.

The neutral colour is continued down to the trousers, with the socks and shirt grabbing the attention. Mobutu is a keen advocate of an eclectic range of footwear, but these brogues are a nod to tradition and further emphasise the preppy/Ivy League feel.

That said, our icon isn’t one to blend in with the crowd, and he gets the most out of his accessories. A vintage clutch is very Mobutu – in vogue yet infused with character and substance.

  • Acne Men’s Isherwood Marble Print ShirtAcne Men’s Isherwood Marble Print Shirt
  • The Elder Statesman Belted Cashmere CardiganThe Elder Statesman Belted Cashmere Cardigan
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Canvas BeltPolo Ralph Lauren Canvas Belt
  • Burton Tapered Slim Navy ChinosBurton Tapered Slim Navy Chinos
  • Reiss Shackelton Classic Plain Socks BordeauxReiss Shackelton Classic Plain Socks Bordeaux
  • Asos Shoes With Brogue Toe CapAsos Shoes With Brogue Toe Cap
Conclusion

Mobutu’s style is a totally unique, vivacious visual experience that treads the line between style and fashion.

His endearing and jovial je ne sais quoi attitude elevates his style above mere well dressed mortals, enabling him to create looks that are the embodiment of his lifestyle, personality and heritage: a true style icon.