His Story: From KC to GQ: Mark Anthony Green is ‘Style Guy’ to the world
He holds court at the runways of New York, Paris, London and Milan and plays games of Taboo with NBA stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
He’s hosted parties with A$AP Rocky and Kylie Jenner and been schooled by world famous chefs on the best mozzarella sticks. He got a sit-down with Dave Chappelle when virtually no one else in the media could, and sipped kombucha under the L.A. sun with Stevie Wonder.
His interviews have made Nicki Minaj hot and bothered and momentarily stumped Andre 3000.
He’s chatted with Drake about his ideal girl, talked presidential politics with Snooki and queried rapper Young Thug on whether those rumors were true that he tried to have one-time mentor Lil Wayne killed.
But before all the world traveling and celebrity hobnobbing, before becoming a poster boy for fashion journalism’s new wave and taking the reins of GQ Magazine’s iconic column, “The Style Guy,” Mark Anthony Green, 28, was just a Kansas City kid with big dreams — dreams of becoming, well, exactly who he is today.
“Editor and chief of GQ.”
That was a 6-year-old’s answer for the first school paper he’d ever been asked to write. The assignment: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I’m in kindergarten so I have no clue that it’s actually ‘editor-in-chief,’ ” Green says over the phone from GQ’s new headquarters at One World Trade Center in New York’s financial district. “But I knew what I wanted.”
From as early as Green can remember, his father would bring different magazines home, but there was always something that stood out about GQ, particularly its March 1989 cover.
Against a solid white background stood Michael Jordan, then the NBA’s crown prince, framed perfectly through the lens of legendary fashion photographer Richard Avedon. Wrapped in a bespoke double-breasted gray window-paned suit, with a crisp white shirt and polka-dot tie, His Royal Airness palmed a basketball and flashed the toothy grin that would help make him one of the most recognizable humans in history.
“He looked like a superhero,” Green says. “All the men on GQ’s covers, they looked like superheroes to me. They were aspirational.”
Talking with Green, you quickly realize how important feelings and vibes are to him. They operate more like spirits than emotions, holding a precious currency over most everything else. Making sense of why he feels the way he does or worrying about the implications of those feelings are secondary trifles to be dealt with later.
This is how a kid who was still putting his shoes on the wrong feet could discern exactly where he’d want to be 20 years down the road. It’s a “feel, act, think” order of operations.
“I wasn’t looking through GQ at 6 like, ‘Wow what a brilliant lead,’ ” he says (using the journalists’ nickname for the start of a story). “I just remember feeling like this brand … I like what it stands for.”
Green had a similar episode of feel-first-think-later as a freshman at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park when a crush invited him to be her date for her school’s Sadie Hawkins dance. The girl was gorgeous; of course he’d go with her — this was a sure thing.
Until it wasn’t. The dance had the misfortune of coinciding with the release of the world-shattering Outkast album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Green remembers first listening to “The Love Below” (Andre 3000’s half of the double album) an hour or so before the dance and knowing he had a problem.
The feeling had taken over again. He called his date to break the news: “I told her I needed to listen to this Andre 3000 record again, and I didn’t want to go anywhere. I just wanted to listen to the album. It was a real jerk move on my part, but, whatever, I just remember how that album made me feel.”
(In case you’re wondering, Green is straight.
It was that same February Tuesday that Green also made up his mind to go to college in Atlanta, the birthplace and creative think tank of Andre 3000. Four years later he enrolled in Morehouse College, a prestigious, historically black college in the heart of the city.
“Mark always knew who he was and who he wanted to be, on all levels,” says Melissa Reynolds, Green’s AP English teacher at Miege. “That’s the strength that he has.” Green cites Reynolds as one of his most important professional influences and credits her with being the first person (other than his mom) to believe in his writing.
“I can be with Tom Ford in London and I’m using something that Ms. Reynolds taught me in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, my freshman year of high school,” he says. “I think about her when I’m writing things she’ll never see.”
Green was born in St. Louis, but his parents, Michael Sr. and Karen Green, shuffled the family to Chicago and then Pasadena, Calif., before settling when he was 10 in a home on Kansas City’s Independence Avenue. Despite the multiple points of origin, it’s Kansas City he points to as his hometown. Credit for his fashion prowess, however, is another story.
Already a forgettable epoch in American fashion history, the early 2000s in the Midwest — before technology could instantly bring Fifth Avenue to fingertips — provided little inspiration. So Green dressed unlike nearly everyone around him. He was the fashion outsider, an excommunication that, in a way, built a much-needed resolve.
“If anything,” he says, “Kansas City taught me how to not look around the room.”
It was at Miege that Green’s blend of style, self-assurance and sprezzatura began to take form and set him apart. Like his father and older brother Michael Jr. before him, Green was an avid basketball player, playing for Miege his freshman year. The mandatory custom for the team was to abandon the school uniform — Miege polo, khaki Dockers — and wear a suit and tie on game day.
“The athletes looked at it as a burden,” Green says. “I looked at it like, man, that’s a reason to play a basketball game!”
Soon, Green was adding his dressy game day touches (and breaking the school dress code) on days when he didn’t have games. Some days, Green, Michael Jr. and his sister Madison popped the collar on their polos for a little flair, a Green family practice school officials eventually singled out and banned. In a more subversive move, Green, refusing to succumb to dowdy Dockers, would take those pants’ logos and sew them onto “better fitting, better looking” Ralph Lauren chinos. A few days, when he was really feeling reckless, he’d ditch the polo altogether for a button-down and a bowtie.
“The game day rule was to discourage people from dressing down,” he says, “but I was overdressing. I was getting in trouble for the way I dressed.”