Liam Payne was a fan of Harry Styles' history-making Vogue cover.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, the former One Direction bandmate, 27, defended Styles' controversial December Vogue shoot, where he became the first man to land a solo cover on the fashion magazine — wearing a lace-trimmed dress and tuxedo jacket crafted by Gucci's creative director, Alessandro Michele.
"[I] thought it was great," Payne said of Styles' cover.
"I think he's enjoying himself and he's free to do as he wishes," the singer added. "And, you know, I just think that people don't need to be so bothered about stuff. There's been a lot more stuff going on this year than whether or not he’s wearing the right clothes in someone else’s mind."
Payne continued, praising Styles for having "never really lost himself, even in spite of everything."
"After the band, we didn't speak for a long time, actually, and then I remember seeing him, it was actually at a Jingle Bell Ball, backstage for the first time in a long time," Payne told ET. "He's still the same guy he always was when we left each other in that dressing room as the band kind of stopped for a little bit."
Styles and Payne performed together for six years as part of the iconic boy band One Direction, which also included bandmates Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson.
In his Vogue cover interview, Styles touched on that period of time in his life.
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"I think the typical thing is to come out of a band like that and almost feel like you have to apologize for being in it. But I loved my time in it," Styles said. "It was all new to me, and I was trying to learn as much as I could."
"I wanted to soak it in. … I think that’s probably why I like traveling now — soaking stuff up," he added.
The band disbanded in 2016 and Styles looked back on how he took time to find his footing when first venturing into a solo career. In 2017, he debuted his self-titled album, followed up by Fine Line last year.
"I was very much finding out what my sound was as a solo artist. I can see all the places where it almost felt like I was bowling with the bumpers up," he told Vogue. "I think with the second album I let go of the fear of getting it wrong and … it was really joyous and really free."
The 26-year-old also spoke out about challenging traditional gender norms and expressing himself through fashion.
"Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. What's really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away," he told the outlet. "When you take away 'There's clothes for men and there's clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play."
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