Bryn Chapman Parish Esquire

WITH A CAST as stylish as Heartbreak High’s, standing out was never going to be easy. But Bryn Chapman Parish, who plays the show’s prickly jock ‘Spider,’ has undeniably great taste in clothes – and with style icons like Tony Soprano and David Bowie, who can blame him?

The 26-year-old may be best known for his role in the hugely popular Heartbreak High reboot, but in real life, the Sydney-based actor and musician is much less brooding bully and much more rock’n’roll frontman – literally. Outside of acting, Chapman Parish leads the band Mac the Knife, a punk-rock five-piece that was born out of a sweaty garage in the city’s Inner West.

Despite his Australian roots, Chapman Parish got his start in the creative industries in rural France, when he joined a touring theatre company’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac at age eight. Every summer for the subsequent decade was spent performing around the country, and by the looks of things, not only did Chapman Parish pick up the acting bug, but a taste for European fashion, too – his Five Fits include pieces from Prada, Armani and Celine, and he wore Gucci for his first-ever AACTAs in 2022 (where he won the Audience Choice Award for Best Actor, no less). Despite that, he’s still partial to an Australian designer, with his stage wardrobe frequently consisting of pieces from Song For The Mute.

Ahead of his return to Hartley High for Heartbreak High’s second season, Chapman Parish caught up with Esquire Australia to chat about style icons, music and the brands he has his eye on.

Fit One

Bryn Chapman Parish Five Fits
Chapman Parish wears Prada jacket and pants; Sarah & Sebastian necklace and rings; Sener Besim ring; Prada shoes. Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Esquire: Firstly, can you tell us about your path into acting? When did you know you wanted to act?

Bryn Chapman Parish: I first started acting by complete chance when I was eight years old in France. I fell in with a theatre company in the village I grew up in. I was sitting sulking about something outside my parent’s art studio, and the director of the company (who were based in the same venue) came up and said “Hey, stop that. Come on, you’re going to be in a show this arvo”. From then on I did four shows a week with them all summer then never looked back.

You’re also a musician — what kind of music did you listen to growing up? How did it shape you and your band’s sound?

My first memories of music are my mum playing Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker, both of whom I still absolutely adore. But my biggest influence was when a family friend burnt me a pirated copy of ‘Is This It’ by the Strokes. I used to listen to it on repeat when I was about five. I lost the CD not long after and couldn’t actually remember the name of the band or the album. I was probably around thirteen when I re-discovered it and just got hit with this huge wave of nostalgia. To this day the Strokes are still my favourite band and biggest influence. I just love the emotion and feeling all their songs stir up in me.

Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Where did your interest in fashion begin? Can you remember when you first fell in love with clothes?

I think I’ve always enjoyed performing and dressing up ever since I was a little kid. I used to go to preschool dressed up as all sorts of different characters from books or movies. To this day one of the most exciting parts of prepping for a role is the costume fittings. I just love the way clothes and outfits make me feel and navigate the world in different ways.

Fit Two

Bryn Chapman Parish Five Fits
Chapman Parish wears Revolve Man T-shirt; Coach jacket; Newtown Vintage 313 jeans; Sarah & Sebastian rings and necklace; Celine boots and his own glasses. Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Bryn Chapman Parish Five Fits
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

What was considered ‘stylish’ or ‘cool’ when you were growing up?

Element tees, Billabong boardies, and phat globe shoes when I was little haha. I’m really seeing a lot of it around right now with this Y2K revival. And then thankfully it moved on to musicians and skaters. More denim, Dickies, Docs. Around then I started to care a lot more about how clothes actually fit my frame rather than just random items.

How would you describe your personal style in three words?

Eclectic, evolving, timeless.

Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Who are your personal style icons? What do you like about their style?

Tony Soprano. That man can wear loafers and pleated pants like no one else. It’s so timeless and so classy, it’s pretty hard to top. Peggy Gou always has incredible fits and I love her street style. But Bowie is obviously number one, I just love how his taste transcends trends and inspires so much freedom and creativity in both music and fashion.

Fit Three

Bryn Chapman Parish Five Fits
Chapman Parish wears Celine jacket, pants and shoes; Sarah and Sebastian rings and necklace. Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Your Heartbreak High castmates are all well-known for their style, too. Whose fashion sense do you admire the most?

I reckon James Majoos. We are both on a pretty similar wave length in terms of what clothing we love. We bonded early on over our shared love for Bode.

Speaking of, the second season of the show comes out on April 11. Do you think fans will be surprised by Spider’s storyline? What should they expect from the season more broadly?

I think there’s a lot in store that’ll get a few gasps this season… You really get to find out why Spider is the way he is and behaves the way he does. There’s a bit of love, a bit of growth, and a whole lot of heartbreak (pun intended).

Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Your band also has an EP dropping the week prior. Tell us about In The Shadow Of It All, and what inspired it.

This EP has been in the works for a while now, so I’m stoked to finally share it with the world. My writing is an outlet for expressing my inner thoughts and conflicts, so this EP is pretty much the culmination of my life experiences in the last few years. I guess you could call it a coming of age EP about the trials and tribulations we face when your twenties hit you like a freight train. Tonally, We’re super inspired by the UK and Irish punk scene at the moment with bands like Fontaines D.C. and Idles putting out such interesting and compelling post-punk. We also love local Australian acts like Dust and Genesis Owusu, who are really pushing the music industry out here to greater heights.

Fit Four

Bryn Chapman Parish Five Fits
Chapman Parish wears Rory William Docherty top; Song for the Mute jacket; Strateas Carlucci pants; Sarah & Sebastian necklace and rings; Sener Besim ring; Celine shoes. Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Would Spider be a fan of Mac the Knife?

Yeaaaaah I reckon he’d be up front in the mosh for sure. He’s got his one band in season one, shout out Renaissance Titties, so I think he’d be in the inner west music scene for sure.

You have some pretty impressive pieces in your tour wardrobe — including brands like Song For The Mute and Gentle Monster. What factors do you consider when choosing an outfit to wear on-stage?

Over the years, I’ve organically found this character that I slip into when I’m on stage with Mac The Knife. It’s still me, but at my most  uninhibited and raw. It serves as a vessel to express myself in the purest and most heightened way I can. I find the clothes I wear really help me slip into the zone I need to be in. Song For The Mute are just so creative and forward thinking, and their style really helps me embody the energy we try to cultivate at a show. Gentle Monster fit into the same category of style bending creativity, I just love how life looks through their lenses.

What is the most sentimental piece of clothing you own?

I have one of my grandpa’s button up Cuban collared shirts from the 60s that still gets quite a bit of wear. It fits like a glove, and It’s also one of the first shirts I remember wearing on stage with Mac The Knife back in the beginning.

Fit Five

Chapman Parish wears Song for the Mute jacket; Rick Owens pants from Marais; Sarah & Sebastian necklace and ring; Sener Besim ring; Celine shoes. Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.
Photography: Yasmin Suteja. Styling: Hayley Hing.

Are there any fashion brands you’re particularly fond of right now?

I’ve got a big fashion crush on Jacquemus right now. I love that his brand is all based on love and admiration for his mother’s style, and serves as a legacy for her. His marketing is just so fun and unpretentious, I feel like he’s really shifting things up in the fashion world. I also love Braindead from LA and Awake NYC, both of whom make such sick and unique streetwear.

If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My Orslow jeans, my Vinny’s loafers and my grandpa’s shirt.

How does your music and acting (and working within the creative industries), inspire your personal style?

In all honesty I feel like it might be the reverse. I have a very strong sense of style and tone that I try to let bleed into my creative work in both acting and music. The costume department on Heartbreak are so collaborative and talented, they really listen and engage with us and allow us to bring our own flare to our character’s outfits, which is a very rare occurrence in film.

Photography: Yasmin Suteja
Styling: Hayley Hing
Grooming: Yasmine Keong
Styling assistant: Luke Grahaam

See more from Esquire’s ‘Five Fits With’ series here.