Violetta Komyshan. Ansel ElgortJo Malone x Paul Andrew Dinner, Chinese Tuxedo, New York, USA - 31 May 2017

Ansel Elgort, on a solo mission to explore the raw bar, stood upright while licking caviar directly off his hand.

“All the cool kids are doing it in Paris,” was the explanation offered by a tattooed waiter manning the food station. “It’s nice to just taste the caviar.”

The 23-year-old actor and budding musician was all too happy to indulge. Elgort came out to downtown Manhattan restaurant Chinese Tuxedo to join his friend — and new collaborator — Paul Andrew at a dinner thrown by Jo Malone London Wednesday night.

“We met at some sort of CFDA event, and then he asked me to do some sort of sneaker wear awards [the Footwear News Achievement Awards],” Elgort said.

In a toast, Andrew told the crowd he and Elgort are working together on a sneaker collaboration, an idea first planted during that Footwear News event.

“It was then that we were in the car that I said, ‘I would love to do a collaboration with you,’ which I said sort of as a joke, but seriously, and he said, ‘Yeah we should,’” Elgort explained. “Eventually we actually got together.”

He showed off the green, white and gray high tops he had on for the evening, which he wore in a blue version earlier in the day for a photo shoot.

“I was always the kid in high school who was wearing crazy shoes — I love loud, flashy shoes,” Elgort said. “I love high tops, and about a year ago, after the CFDA Awards, where I met Paul Andrew, he sent me a pair of white high tops. I wore the s–t out of them — or ‘cooked’ them. I liked that I could wear them with shorts and socks like you would a pair of Nikes, or I could wear them with jeans, or with a pair of pants. They were youthful and classic. They feel like they could work with a lot of different styles. The reason why I wanted to do a sneaker was because as a New Yorker, I walk everywhere. I want to be able to hop on a CitiBike, or jump on a skateboard, or [play] pickup basketball if I see a game.”

And judging by how his sample pairs have been received, he’s feeling confident. “I was in New Orleans All Star weekend and I got stopped so many times because of my shoes,” Elgort said. “Paul Andrew shoes are clearly well made, everyone can tell that they’re really nice shoes — but they’re underexposed. I thought that if we did a collaboration together, I could help expose him, and also help bring even more flash to his shoes.”

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