It has always been a source of fascination to me how celebrities’ names can become so closely associated with their careers. One of the most obvious examples is that of Elizabeth Taylor, whose beauty and style made her one of the most famous women in the world yet whose last name was almost never heard or seen apart from its connection to her. It wasn’t until many years later that the world would learn about Elizabeth’s other accomplishments—as a pioneering film producer and a passionate humanitarian—and would see her name as an indicator of these other qualities.

In the same way that Taylor’s name would become closely associated with her beauty, so too would the name Pattinson become linked with Robert’s career as a movie star. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that the world would learn about the singer-songwriter’s other talents and would start seeing his name as an indicator of these other qualities. And it wasn’t always the case: For decades, Robert’s name was synonymous with his fame as a child actor who starred in some of the most iconic films of all time.

In 2012, the British model-actress-turned-politician Gabrielle Aplin made headlines when she changed her last name to ‘Pattinson’—a move that many were quick to praise as a feminist act. But in reality, it was much more complicated than that. As Gabrielle would later admit, she adopted the name Pattinson as a brand—much like Taylor did before her—to stake her claim in the political arena:

I am a political activist, a feminist and an environmentalist. I want to be seen as a force for good in this world. I want to use my celebrity for good and not for evil. So that is why I adopted the name Pattinson. Because it is the name of someone who is a really positive influence in this world, who has helped so many people and made such a big difference. So it is a positive influence and I want to be associated with that. That is why I am using the name Pattinson. I have seen so much discrimination and oppression, especially as a woman, and the more I read and the more I speak, the more I am determined to fight it.

Less than a year after renaming herself, Gabrielle was elected to Parliament. Though the move was intended to be a publicity stunt, it turned out to be a major coup, vaulting the 31-year-old politician to the forefront of British politics. In the years that followed, Gabrielle’s political career would become a source of fascination and even celebrity. In 2018, for example, she attracted global media attention when she used a speech in Parliament to declare that Boris Johnson was “a danger to our country” and that “[Russia] is poisoning the minds of our people”—though she later walked back some of those remarks.

While some may still associate Robert with his film career, today we will focus on the musician, songwriter, and fashion icon’s other talents. Over the years, Robert has established himself as one of the most well-known and well-liked recording artists in the world. He has sold over 20 million albums worldwide and is arguably most famous for his work with Taylor, where he served as her bass guitarist and backing vocalist. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the world would truly get to know and appreciate Robert as an artist and a person: This was the year that he released his critically-acclaimed solo album, ‘Twilight.’

One of the defining features of Robert’s music is its melodic sensibility. Indeed, he has cited composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as his musical influences. It is this very quality that makes his music so appealing and memorable. Additionally, Robert has stated that he is a perfectionist and that his aim is “to make every song reach its highest potential.” This perfectionism extends to his lyrics as well: Though he does not write his music all by himself, Robert will revise and rework lyrics until he feels that he has reached the desired result (and sometimes even then).

This attention to detail is what has enabled Robert to remain a prominent figure in the music industry for over a decade now. But it was not always the case: In his early days as a musician, Robert found it difficult to gain widespread recognition and support. His debut album, ‘Goodbye To All That’ (2003), for example, did not make the same impact as his subsequent releases had. This, in part, can be attributed to his previous band, the Twilight Singers, which broke up in 2000. But it also highlights the degree of difficulty that Robert encountered in his quest to carve out a prominent place for himself in the music industry. Today, however, this challenge seems easy to overcome.

In 2006, Robert founded his own record label, Robopattinson, whose roster of artists currently includes the aforementioned Gabrielle and Boy George. But it wasn’t until the release of ‘Ode to Joy’ (2009) that Robert started to see the fruits of his labors. This was the first of two critically-acclaimed albums that Robert would release in quick succession and the beginning of a new chapter in his career. Most notably, ‘Ode to Joy’ marked the first time that Robert had ever written and performed all of the instruments on an album. This was a bold move for the singer, who had mostly chosen to collaborate with other musicians in the past.

Though he had always been a talented guitarist and pianist, Robert had been too intimidated to play instruments on record before ‘Ode to Joy.’ But now, he decided to overcome his fear and did so with stunning results. In tandem with the brilliant work of his band, the National, ‘Ode to Joy’ cemented Robert’s reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative musicians in the world. The album also marked the return of his partner in crime, Taylor, who had not collaborated with Robert on an album in over a decade. The two had collaborated on a handful of songs for the soundtrack to the film ‘New Moon’ (2009), but these had mostly been rough drafts that Taylor and Robert had worked on independently. Now that they were back together, the two had a wealth of material to draw on and would end up working on six new songs for the film. These would become some of the most recognizable and well-loved songs of Robert’s career.

A Passion For Fashion

Though Robert may be most well-known for his musical accomplishments, it is his fashion choices that have helped make him one of the most recognizable and highly-influential figures in popular music. It all started with his hair. For as long as can remember, Robert has worn his hair in long, luscious curls that would frame his beautiful face. And it was this quality that first caught the attention of prominent fashion-bloggers and social media users.

Though he had always dressed impeccably, it was not until he began working with fashion magazines such as Vogue and GQ that the world would really get to see the extent of Robert’s fashion ambitions. From day one, he sought to make a name for himself in the fashion industry and worked tirelessly to establish himself as a major player. Most notably, he launched a men’s wear line, RP Contemporary, in 2011 and subsequently closed it down four years later. This was due, in part, to his desire to focus on his music and in part to a lack of interest on the part of the company he was working with at the time.

It was only a matter of time before other designers began taking notice of Robert’s unique styling and sensibility. And this, in turn, helped establish and sustain his fashion career. In 2014, he was appointed creative director of JOVANI, a luxury goods company specialized in creating designer swimwear and sportswear. This was an ideal job for the fashionable musician. Not only would he get to indulge his passion for fashion, but he would also get to work with some of the biggest and best-known brands in the world. Not long after, he was appointed creative director of Louis Vuitton’s North American branch, where he was responsible for designing and bringing the house’s fashion lines to life. In addition to his work with Louis Vuitton, other fashion houses that Robert has worked with include Burberry, Emporio Armani, and Versace.