Tall in stature, graceful in movement, and with a gaze so smoldering it could make a stone blush—Malik Alain has an It factor that could easily intimidate. Instead, the San Francisco native is utterly charming and refreshingly self-effacing. “It all started when I saw the movie Center Stage,” he says, explaining how he came to be a classically trained ballet dancer. “I’d push the furniture all out of my room and teach myself from the movie. When my mom finally took me to ballet school, they were literally shocked to learn it was my first class.”
That story is definitely indicative of his focus and drive. When a broken ankle meant he wouldn’t be able to dance at the highest level, he switched gears, deciding to pursue a more classic education and graduated from Columbia University last year—an experience he describes as very rewarding. “I was at the top when I broke my ankle, so I decided I’d just need to be the top at something else,” he says of his pivot. During school he started modeling and has earned a following for his confidence, androgyny, and kind spirit.
“I’m drawn to modeling because it’s performance-oriented—a very aesthetic profession. It’s probably the closest thing I could be doing to ballet right now,” says Malik, who has always been into fashion and bought his first Margiela sweater when he was 14. He embraces a gender-neutral style and isn’t afraid to get playful—or “extreme,” as he calls it—with silhouettes and proportions, leaving his wardrobe on to range everywhere between a shrunken XS and oversized XXL. “I like athleticwear a lot. I come from a family of athletes, and I’ll wear my dad’s XXL basketball pants from college. I love wearing my mom and dad’s clothing,” he says, adding that the hoop earring he wore for the shoot is actually his grandmother’s. As for wearing women’s clothes, he actually enjoys shopping womenswear for both fit and to lessen the chance of seeing another guy in the same outfit.
When it comes to the shoes and clothes on this shoot, repping Pride Month is definitely close to his heart. “I think given the current political climate, right now it’s especially important for the community to make their presence known,” he says. Growing up in San Francisco, Pride was always a day he looked forward to all year. “Both there and here in New York, we’re lucky that we are able to come out and celebrate, knowing we have the support of the whole city and state. I think it’s important for people to travel as much as they can to other Pride celebrations and bring that positive, inclusive mentality to places that might not have numbers as strong.”
This year for NYC Pride, Malik will be celebrating with close friends and his boyfriend, and he urges others to show up as well—not just in New York, but to events and marches around the country. “I grew up thinking that I wasn’t going to have to fight for anything, and I do. We all do. By showing up and being proud and supporting people in other places that lack support, it’s a way for us to secure a fight-free life for the next generation.”