Keanu Reeves is having a moment. A Keanu Reeves renaissance. A Keanuaissance. A Keanu Reevissance. Whatever you want to call it, after fronting Saint Laurent’s SS19 menswear campaign, two of his best-dressed films, John Wick 4 and The Matrix 4, are slated to make comebacks in 2021, meaning that Reeves will be at the forefront of our minds for (at least) the next two years. And we could not be more here for it.
So, what better way to celebrate the man than a style-focused trip down memory lane, a lane otherwise known as Reeves’ bangin’ movie back catalog. Starting with his breakout role in River’s Edge and moving through various cult classics including Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and My Own Private Idaho, here we highlight eight of the strongest Keanu looks from throughout his career. Even better, we’ve included tips from the Highsnobiety Selects team on how to recreate them. You’re welcome.
River’s Edge (1986)
Long before Jared Leto perfected nonchalant grunge in My So-Called Life and James Franco spent his days leather-clad and skipping class in Freaks and Geeks, there was Keanu Reeves and a 1986 movie titled River’s Edge. The narrative is pretty dark, revolving around a murder and a bunch of teenage stoners, and that is reflected in the garms donned by the film’s key characters.
Championing grunge before the word was even a thing, Reeves and his co-stars, including Crispin Glover (aka Back to the Future‘s George McFly), delivered looks that are still strong today. Celine under Hedi Slimane, for example, has just dropped a sleeveless denim jacket as part of its Christian Marclay collection, which you can layer over beaten-up leather and a Grateful Dead-style tie-dye tee to replicate Reeves’ River’s Edge look.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Cult ’80s classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its 1991 sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey saw Reeves adopting a fairly DIY aesthetic as heavy metal bozo Ted “Theodore” Logan, one that layers numerous styles and is super-easy to recreate.
First, you’ve got a nod to ’80s hair metal, which Ted champions via a faded Van Halen tee worn under a simple black waistcoat. Then there are the skater elements, channeled before brands like Supreme and Palace were a twinkle in anyone’s eye: baggy shorts are pulled over rolled-up sweatpants and complemented with a Chinatown Market-esque smiley badge, a “Save the Humans” bumper sticker, and a pair of black high-top Chucks.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Reeves’ character Scott Favor serves a bunch of fire ’fits in ’90s drama My Own Private Idaho, as does Reeves’ co-star River Phoenix, who tragically died at just 23 two years after the movie premiered. The wardrobe sits somewhere amid three distinct looks: vintage, utility wear, and biker, which when blended by the movie’s two leads become a sort of holy trinity.
The most notable looks involve outerwear, including the suede-collared jacket and patterned shirt pairing you see above, a classic gray hoodie under black leather jacket combo, a ’70s-style shearling coat, and Phoenix’s burnt orange worker’s jacket.
With a new crew cut and sporting oversized shirts, plain white tees, tan trousers, and the occasional plaid over-shirt, Reeves’ look in bomb-on-a-bus action flick Speed is something of a masterclass in OG normcore style. He nails the simple, relaxed Americana feel every Gap ad in the ’90s was going for, and we mean that in the best way. After all, who else could look so effortlessly cool while trying to stop a bus from exploding? Exactly. What’s more, you can basically buy Reeves’ entire Speed look at Uniqlo for $75.
For more normcore Reeves, check out 1991 action classic Point Break:
The Matrix (1999)
Reeves’ look as Neo in The Matrix is undoubtedly his most iconic. Styled by Kym Barrett, who also worked on Jordan Peele’s Us and the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring Romeo + Juliet, the pairing of long leather trench coat and tiny sunglasses continues to inspire collections and celebrity style today.
Demna Gvasalia sent small shades down the SS17 Balenciaga menswear runway and featured them in the brand’s SS18 campaign. Prada did the same for SS18 alongside vinyl overcoats. ALYX’s chest-pieces carry a super-Neo-like aesthetic, as did the all-leather looks seen over at Alexander McQueen in FW18. Rihanna wore small shades at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, while Kylie Jenner wore them to the Met Gala last year.
Of course, that’s just a snippet of how Neo continues to slay, 20 years after he took the red pill and slid down a fashion-forward rabbit hole.
The Gift (2000)
Reeves could be described as delivering “redneck on a fishing trip” or “scumbro in the wild” vibes in Sam Raimi’s The Gift, and honestly, who isn’t here for that? His character Donnie is pretty on-point by today’s standards, layering different prints and fabrics like camo and plaid and making it work by keeping the colors muted and complementary. Better still, he’s sporting a trucker hat that doesn’t have a massive Von Dutch logo stamped on it, which is something of a miracle given the movie came out in the early ’00s.
John Wick (2014)
If you’re looking at any film other than John Wick for tips on how to look sharp in an all-black suit, you need to take a seat, stat. While any Tom, Dick, or Harry can pair a black two-piece with a turtleneck, Reeves’ suits in John Wick take it to the next level. All are made to measure, tailored by costume designer Luca Mosca, who also styled Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in Paranoia and the entire US Secret Service in Vantage Point.
Reeves’ look oozes extreme, focused elegance, barely moving as Wick makes his way through various intensely choreographed action sequences. Even if you’re not pulling in the kind of paycheck demanded by those who can kill three men with naught but a pencil, a decent suit isn’t too hard to secure if you know where to look.
The Bad Batch (2017)
Last but by no means least is Reeves’ super-’70s style in The Bad Batch. It’s probably a given that a cult leader known as The Dream would waltz around in a black silk bathrobe looking like the goth lovechild of Hugh Hefner and Pablo Escobar, but we can’t help but be pleasantly surprised by how much Reeves suits this look.
Elsewhere in the movie, when he isn’t clad in black silk, The Dream rocks another great look: an all-white ’fit complete with oversized collar, crocodile belt, gold accessories, and a shirt made of a material so thin you can see his nipples. Strong.