Sunday, September 28, 2008

Marvin Gaye...The Masterpiece

Marvin Gaye began his career in the late 1950s, singing with various R&B vocal groups. Soon he moved on to work as a session drummer and vocalist at Motown. Gaye's own '60s albums are marked by propulsive, high-energy R&B, and duets with Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell. In the '70s, he crafted a unique, highly personal vision of R&B, incorporating socio-political issues, atmospheric arrangements, and unified album themes. His early, violent death robbed the world of a true genius.

"It was Gaye's masterpiece."

Originally released in 1971, WHAT'S GOING ON remains a landmark album, one that redefined music with powerful, anthemic songs that remain pertinent to this day. Before WHAT'S GOING ON, R&B albums were collections of singles, with secondary "filler" material rounding out the LPs. Marvin Gaye changed all this by releasing a concept album that went beyond the usual boy-meets-girl scenario, weaving together an aural collage of societal ills. "Crime is increasing/Trigger-happy policing," from "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," is as potent a line today as it was over 20 years ago, and with the country still divided over the Vietnam War, the title track became a rallying cry for peace.

Dark, mercurial, and jazzy, WHAT'S GOING ON was as radical musically as it was conceptually. Layered with lush orchestrations, heavenly background vocals, and loose, fiercely grooving arrangements, WHAT'S GOING ON so surpassed anything previously known as soul music that it virtually reinvented the genre. The critical and commercial success of Gaye's opus also enabled other artists to break free from the creative shackles imposed by Motown and other companies, and to experience more autonomy in musical and thematic expression, thereby changing the industry. In short, the musical and historical significance of WHAT'S GOING ON cannot be overestimated; it was Gaye's masterpiece, and still stands as one of the greatest soul albums of all time.

"This album is soulful, sensual and simultaneously delightful and sinful at the same time. More than 30 years later."

Relishing the artistic freedom afforded by the success of WHAT'S GOING ON, Marvin Gaye recorded this sultry paean to sex. Where its predecessor relied on complex arrangements, the straightforward sound of LET'S GET IT ON focused attention on its tight rhythms, strong melodies, and Gaye's expressive, nuanced singing. For sheer sensual come-on, it's hard to beat the title track, one of the finest celebrations of the joys of human chemistry ever recorded. But the self-explanatory "Come Get to This" and "You Sure Love to Ball" aren't far behind in terms of passionate execution and visceral impact.

Though LET'S GET IT ON has its reflective moments, notably the beautiful ballad "Distant Lover," Gaye's focus is on the here and now, and the intensity of his vocal performances and the silky, fluid feel of the arrangements inform the sensual "carpe diem" philosophy. Just as WHAT'S GOING ON opened the floodgates for political soul music, LET'S GET IT ON defined the "lover man" genre populated by luminaries like Al Green, Barry White, and Isaac Hayes.

"Let's Get It On" is still the standard for the album you play for romance and tremendous singing.
Dedicated To You, My Love."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hot and Coverd...GQ: The American Way

GQ: The American Way
Say good-bye to the Ugly American. Classic American style reigns supreme once again

No disrespect to the Italians, French, or Japanese, but it’s classic American style that’s dominating the world of fashion these days. So much so that all labels—no matter their nationality—are offering their takes on everything from boat shoes to oxfords.

Photographs by Nathaniel Goldberg

Tennis sweater, $795, by Michael Kors.
•Not for the court but for the street. Tie optional; jeans or khakis essential.

Shirt, $480, by Thom Browne New York. Tie, $130, by Versace.

Repp tie, $170, by Prada.
•What used to be the most conservative of ties has found a new, spirited life, thanks to its slimmer build and creative color combinations.

Shirt, $385, by Prada. Shorts, $75, by Polo by Ralph Lauren. Sneakers, $50, by Adidas.

Baseball jacket, $613, by Moncler.
•A sporting-goods-store standard, currently being repurposed by numerous fashion labels, both American and European.

Shirt, $350, by Thom Browne New York. Tie, $125, by Band of Outsiders. Jeans, $158, by Levi’s Capital E. Sunglasses by Ray-Ban. Watch by Timex.

Hot and Coverd...GQ: The American Way

Cotton cardigan, $95, by Hilfiger Denim.
•Not droopy and slouchy like your grandfather’s, but fit and trim.

Shirt, $285, by Spurr. Tie, $50, by Top Gun. Shirts, $114, by Scotch & Soda. Sneakers, $50, by Converse. Watch by Nixon. Backpack by Jack Spade.

Madras shirt, $145, by Polo by Ralph Lauren.
•Shorts, shirts, pants—this quintessentially preppy fabric is back big-time, but now in more muted tones.

Shirt, $350, by Thom Browne New York. Tie, $125, by Band of Outsiders. Jeans, $158, by Levi’s Capital E. Sunglasses by Ray-Ban. Watch by Timex.

Cotton navy blazer, $795, by Emporio Armani.
•What you might have once reluctantly worn to a wedding has been reborn as the sharpest jacket of the season.

Polo shirt, $234, by Etro. Jeans, $230, by Diesel. Shoes, $148, by Quoddy Trail.

Special Thanks also in GQ/feature
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hot and Coverd...GQ’s October issue: The Sartorialist

GQ’s eye on the street, Scott Schuman, captures the month’s best styles

In GQ’s October issue, Scott Schuman scopes out the crowd at Kanye West’s Madison Square Garden show.

Photo: Scott Schuman

Professor of Cool
I love how this guy takes a look you might associate with upper-crust academia and twists it with a hard-ass stare.

Double the Style
Dee and Ricky are designers and musicians (and twins) whose Lego-inspired accessories have crossed over from hip-hop to the runway of Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Got Braids?
Check out the black braided-leather wallet chain and the extra-long braided leather belt. It's all in the details.

Hot and Coverd...GQ’s October issue: The Sartorialist

N.E.R.D. Chic
This guy is so damn cool, he can turn the nerd persona upside down and still come out on top.

Evening Glow, Indeed
It’s got to be a little intimidating for women to attend a show where the men sport such a developed sense of style. For once, I think we sartorialists were the eye candy—and I’m okay with that!

All Business
A Kanye concert is one of the few shows where a guy can wear a killer suit and tie and still be recognized as one of the coolest cats in the place. But don’t think you can just pop over from the office; your suit better have some zip to it—Kanye is the Louis Vuitton Don, after all!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Missy Higgins-On a Clear Night (2008)

"Put on and listen in its entirety over and over again."

Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins followed up her 2004 debut, THE SOUND OF WHITE, with ON A CLEAR NIGHT in 2007. Earnest, emotional, and intimate, Higgins's music is folky and poppy at once, with most of her songs centering around her acoustic guitar, winding melodies, and confessional lyrics. There's a little bit of Ani Difranco in Higgins's tough-girl verbal skill the tune "100 Round the Bends," but the artist can also play the jazzy chanteuse on lovely, laid-back numbers such as "The Wrong Girl." The diverse palette works wonders paired with Higgins's top-notch tunesmithery.

2007 sophomore release from the Australian singer-songwriter. Missy Higgins may have kept a very low public profile in 2006 but that doesn't mean she hasn't been keeping busy. On A Clear Night was recorded in Los Angeles with acclaimed producer Mitchell Froom, who helmed the recent Finn Brothers release and the first three Crowded House albums plus discs for such acclaimed singer-songwriters as Ron Sexsmith, Elvis Costello and Suzanne Vega. The first song to be lifted from the album is 'Steer', a positive and life-affirming track. Virgin.

Whiskeytown-Strangers Almanac (1997)

"'s range beyond the band's trademark roughhouse, twang-tinged punk, but its honky-tonk heart still beats..."

STRANGERS ALMANAC was Whiskeytown's penultimate album. The band is still steeped in the sounds of country and Gram Parsons-inspired country-rock here, but one can hear the music moving toward the pop of their final effort PNEUMONIA. Everything still centers around the voice and excellent songwriting of Ryan Adams (who was still only 22 at the time of this album's release).

The song "16 Days," for example, with its breezy, open-road, country vibe and the lovely interlocking harmonies between Adams and violinist Caitlin Cary, was released as a single, and rightfully so. There is also the beautiful, melancholic weeper "Dancing With the Women at the Bar," and a revisitiation of "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight," which appeared on the band's debut.

Adams's talent shines so brightly here, in fact, that it is little wonder he would soon be pursuing a solo career (the internal tensions in the band would hasten its dissolution as well), but STRANGERS ALMANAC captures this fine, short-lived, alt-country band in full effect.

Belle and Sebastian-collect BBC Sessions on new comp

"The good news, comes...!"

The many lads and lasses of Belle and Sebastian put quite a bit of time in on BBC Radio over the years, laying down well-loved (and well-bootlegged) versions of some of their biggest smashes for broadcast over the airwaves. Several choice selections from their time on the Beeb in the years 1996-2001 have been collected on The BBC Sessions, due from Matador November 18. Though not comprehensive-- among the missing is the "slow" version of "Seeing Other People", which features Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackon, and Isobel Campbell trading vocals, and an incredible reading of "We Rule the School", both from December 1996-- Sessions covers a wide swath of the band's formative period, from recordings laid down shortly after the release of their brilliant debut Tigermilk to the year after the release of their fourth LP Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant.

The disc is comprised of a complete Mark Radcliffe session from July 1996, an abbreviated take of the version of Tigermilk's "I Could Be Dreaming" performed at a December 96 Radcliffe session, and five tunes from a July 97 Steve Lamacq Evening Session show. Of particular note, though, are the last four tracks, all from a 2001 John Peel session: the Go-Betweens shout-out "Shoot the Sexual Athlete", "The Magic of a Kind Word", "Nothing in the Silence", and "(My Girl's Got) Miraculous Technique". The tunes are beloved by many Belle and Sebastian geeks not only for their quality and rarity, but also their historical importance-- those sessions were the final recordings the band made with founding member Campbell. A second disc, which will accompany initial copies of the set, is made up of a cover-laden December 21, 2001 recording of a Belfast Christmas show. 

Alas, with the good news, comes a reminder of the bad: Belle and Sebastian are presently on hiatus, and have no immediate plans to record a follow-up to 2006's exquisite The Lift Pursuit.

Disc One - Radio Sessions
Disc Two - Live in Belfast (12/21/01)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sharleen Spiteri-Melody(2008)

"It still sounds like Texas, though!"

2008 solo album from the singer/songwriter and leader of Scottish Pop rockers Texas. Not only did Sharleen write the whole album, she also produced it, taking complete artistic control of its every sonic nuance.

Steeped in the sound and textures of '60s Soul, '50s Rock 'N' Roll and Doo-Wop, it's an album that's vintage in flavor yet utterly contemporary in spirit. Beside the new generation of retro-obsessed UK songbirds such as Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele, it's a timely reminder that Sharleen was already dabbling in similar influences over a decade ago, be it Tamla Motown ('Black Eyed Boy'), Marvin Gaye ('Say What You Want') or Elvis Presley (cross-dressing up as The King for 2001's 'Inner Smile' video).

Going solo has allowed her the freedom to indulge in such consuming passions even further, creating an album that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve.

11 tracks including the first single 'All The Times I Cried', It's Stuck me this weeks!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Modern Classic...Moscot Lemtosh

They’re kind of like the Ray-ban Wayfarer, except a bit on the nerdier side. This rounder, nerdier number has served as the calling card for generations of creative, thoughtful, free spirited intellectuals and artistes –Creative icons from Buddy Holly to Truman Capote to Johnny Depp  have sported these because of their sophisticated style.

You can pretend to be an intellectual too in these Moscot Lemtosh sunglasses.

Paolo Nutini-These Streets

"His song writting is truely amazing with mellow bluesy tunes."

Paolo Nutini (born 9th January 1987) is a singer-songwriter from Paisley, Scotland. His father is of italian descent and his mother Glaswegian, although his father's family have been in Scotland for four generations. His influences include David Bowie, Damien Rice, Oasis, The Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac.

Nutini had no formal music training, and was expecting to follow his father into the family fish and chip shop business. He was first encouraged to sing by his music-loving grandfather and a teacher at his school who recognised his talent. He left school to work as a roadie and to sell t-shirts for Speedway and spent three years learning the music business, performing live, alone and with a band, and working as a studio hand at Glasgow's Park Lane Studio.

His big chance came when he attended a concert for David Sneddon's return to his home town of Paisley at the beginning of 2003. Sneddon was delayed, and as the winner of an impromptu pop quiz, Nutini was given the chance to perform a couple of songs on stage during the wait. The favourable reaction of the crowd impressed another member of the audience, who offered to become his manager.

A Daily Record journalist, John Dingwall, saw him performing at the Queen Margaret Union, and invited him to appear live on Radio Scotland. Still only 17, he moved to London, and performed regularly at the Bedford pub in Balham whilst still legally too young to drink alcohol himself. Other radio and live appearances followed, including two live acoustic spots on Radio London, The Hard Rock Cafe, and support slots for Amy Winehouse and KT Tunstall.

Throughout 2006 he has played a number of sell-out concerts in the United Kingdom, and performed at a wide variety of venues worldwide, including King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, a TV appearance on Later with Jools Holland, the Carnegie Hall in New York, The Montreux Jazz Festival, The Wireless Festival, Oxegen and T in the Park. He supported the The Rolling Stones in Vienna and was invited to appear with them again at the Don Valley Stadium in August 2006. He is also booked to appear at the V Festival and The Austin City Limits Music Festival, Texas later this year, with a European tour to follow in the Autumn. In May 2006, he also played at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in Dundee.

His debut album These Streets, produced by Ken Nelson (Coldplay/Gomez), was released on 17th July 2006 and immediately entered the UK album charts at #3. Many of the songs on the album, including "Last Request" and "Rewind", were inspired by a turbulent relationship with a girlfriend, and "Jenny Don't Be Hasty" is a true story about encounters with an older woman.

Young Marble Giants-Colossal Youth(1980)

"It's cult has just kept growing over the years."

British trio Young Marble Giants were the Raymond Carver of the post-punk era. While the band's lone album, 1980's COLOSSAL YOUTH, incorporated the influences of punk, dub, and funk as per the spirit of the times, these sounds were filtered through a homespun, minimalist sensibility.

Recorded dry, with no reverb or other effects, the scratchy guitar, bobbing bass, and thrift-store organ are transmuted into a striking modernist tableaux, with Alison Statton's appropriately affectless voice floating above.

COLOSSAL YOUTH prefigured post-rock by some 15 years, but this generous repackaging appending EP and single cuts as well as early recordings and live material is a testament to their lasting influence. There really ought to be more bands like Young Marble Giants, which doesn't mean that there ought to be more bands that sound like Young Marble Giants.

They came out of the nowheresville of Cardiff, Wales; they didn't particularly have a local scene to buoy them up, or a niche to fit into. What they had was an aesthetic that was totally theirs, a sound and style that essentially had no antecedents.

Play any six seconds of any YMG song and you'll know exactly who you're listening to, and probably be thunderstruck by its unsentimental beauty of tone.

Jamie Lidell-Jim[2008]

"It's another welcome surprise."

The follow-up to 2005's excellent, endlessly re-playable MULTIPLY, JIM finds Jamie Lidell delving even deeper into the classic soul and R&B feel that characterized much of that album. 

Although JIM bears the unmistakable sonic gleam of an album crafted by an artist weaned on electronica (Lidell began his career creating glitch-hop and remains on the Warp roster), the burbles and clicks are blended into an overall m.o. that kneels at the altar of Stax/Volt and Atlantic Records circa the 1960s and early `70s.

But while the ghosts of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Wilson Pickett loom large here, JIM is far from mere retro rehash.

For starters, the disco, funk, electronica, and contemporary club flourishes are folded so carefully into the mix that they might be easy to miss-but they're indeed there. But more important is Lidell's superb songwriting and production, to say nothing of his amazing singing. 

A beautifully crafted set that pushes old- and new-school buttons with equal skill, this is the sort of record that is flat-out hard to dislike.

Jim now suggests otherwise: This is an album by an artist getting comfortable with his softer side.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


GQ guide to breaking the rules
Sometimes you shouldn’t do what we tell you; sometimes you need to manhandle the rules in order to define your own sense of style

Photographs by Ben Watts

Special Thanks also in GQ/feature
: home > gq > features

Be a Man—Wear Jewelry
Philip Crangi, Jewelry Designer

“People tend to think of jewelry for men in extremes, and it doesn’t function well at extremes. It’s not about chunky silver or NBA diamonds. What it comes back to is, Does it look personal? It should look like you’ve been wearing it for years—something you picked up along the way. I don’t want to look flashy. I want to feel comfortable. When you’re buying jewelry, all you need to ask is, ‘Do I feel like myself with it on?’ ”

• Want to get into jewelry? Start with a wrist piece and add to it over time, with a necklace and a ring or two. Don’t run out and buy a Mr. T–worthy haul all at once.

Necklaces by Philip Crangi. Bracelets by Giles & Brother by Philip Crangi. Watch by Herm?s. T-shirt by American Apparel. Glasses by Moscot.

Photo: Ben Watts

Tame Your Tux
Dao-Yi Chow, Designer, Public School

“If you look at my outfit, it’s formal from the waist up and nontraditional from the waist down. It’s the perfect balance between luxe and edge. There’s still a fashion component to it, but the way you put it together, you’re not fashion. To pull it off, you have to pay attention: You have to keep the lines from the jacket to the jeans—and the jeans to the shoes—in proportion.”

• The reason Dao-Yi’s outfit works so well is he pays as much attention to the fit of his jeans as he does to his tailored tux jacket. They’re perfectly in sync with each other.

Tuxedo jacket and jeans by Alexander McQueen. Shirt by Dolce & Gabbana. Bow tie by Polo by Ralph Lauren. Sneakers by Balenciaga.

Photo: Ben Watts

Short-Change Yourself
Michael Macko, Director of Menswear, Saks Fifth Avenue

“When you wear a blazer with shorts, you get the feeling that you’re dressed up, but you’re still casual. It says, ‘I don’t work for The Man.’ Most guys, if they’re going to pull this look off, would probably be more comfortable wearing an unstructured cotton jacket with busted-up cargo shorts. It takes a brave man to wear a tailored jacket with tailored shorts. But that’s the point: It’s something you’re not supposed to wear. That’s rebellion.”

• Whether you wear a crisp blazer or a rumpled cotton sports jacket, skip the socks. As Macko says, you don’t want to look like you live in Bermuda.

Blazer by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Shirt and tie by Charvet. Shorts by Michael Bastian. Shoes by Church’s.

Photo: Ben Watts


Short-Change Yourself
Michael Macko, Director of Menswear, Saks Fifth Avenue

“When you wear a blazer with shorts, you get the feeling that you’re dressed up, but you’re still casual. It says, ‘I don’t work for The Man.’ Most guys, if they’re going to pull this look off, would probably be more comfortable wearing an unstructured cotton jacket with busted-up cargo shorts. It takes a brave man to wear a tailored jacket with tailored shorts. But that’s the point: It’s something you’re not supposed to wear. That’s rebellion.”

• Whether you wear a crisp blazer or a rumpled cotton sports jacket, skip the socks. As Macko says, you don’t want to look like you live in Bermuda.

Blazer by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Shirt and tie by Charvet. Shorts by Michael Bastian. Shoes by Church’s.

Photo: Ben Watts

Show Some Ankle
Andy Spade, Founder, Jack Spade

“Going sockless started when I was growing up in Arizona. It wasn’t a style choice—we just never wore socks unless we were playing sports. Now I wear a very slight break in my pants, so they just touch the tops of my shoes. When I’m standing up, I don’t want to have my ankles exposed; it’s when I sit down that you see the sockless thing. People ask me if I go through shoes fast, but I take care of my shoes and keep shoe trees in them. And it’s not like I play tennis without socks. But desert boots, brogues, or Wallabees—it’s the way I’ve always worn ’em.”

• Want to go sockless but not all the way? Go to and buy some all-but-invisible “loafer socks.”

Sports jacket by Thom Browne New York. Shirt by Brooks Brothers. Jeans by Levi’s. Boots by Clarks.

Photo: Ben Watts

Beat Up the Pretty Things
Nathaniel Goldberg, Photographer 

“There’s a person at the Serpette flea market in Paris who specializes in secondhand Herm?s bags. I bought these about ten years ago; they’re probably from the late ’60s or early ’70s. I paid about $2,000 apiece, but I take both of them with me everywhere, always as carry-on luggage. One I pack with clothes, the other with shoes, toiletries, and a computer. You travel in style, but you pay for it with how heavy they get. It’s a painstaking experience, but I still do it. You have beautiful bags; you want them with you.”

• The fact is, quality will cost you. But if you invest in a classic piece by a label like Herm?s—whose craftsmanship is undisputed—consider it money well spent.

Bags by Hermes. Vest and shirt by 45rpm. Jeans by A.P.C. Cap by Browning. Glasses by Number (N)ine. Watch by IWC.

Photo: Ben Watts

Sock It to ’Em
Paul Smith, Designer

“My clothes have always been described as classic with a twist. And the twist comes from self-expression—you’re still well-mannered, you’re a good businessman, you wear a smart suit, but you want to wear one wacky thing, like a pair of socks. And that’s how I got started; I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, but I still wanted to be a bit tongue in cheek. In fact, yesterday I wore lime green socks, dark blue jeans, a pin-striped navy suit jacket, and black lace-ups. You see—I’m still doing it!”

• When buying vibrant dress socks, consider the rest of your wardrobe. Lots of soft-blue shirts and navy ties? Look for socks with at least some blue in them, no matter the shade.

Socks by Paul Smith Accessories. Pants and shoes by Paul Smith.

Photo: Ben Watts

Monday, September 15, 2008


Wear a Suit—Don't Look Like One
Luigi Martini, General Manager, Kiton in N.Y.C.

“I grew up between Santo Domingo, the United States, and Italy. I call my style ‘shock by shock.’ It’s one thing after another, and the only word you can come up with is Wow! In school, when I was little, I was supposed to wear my tie perfect every day. When I left school, I realized that I didn’t have to please anybody anymore. I started tying my tie with the narrow end longer, and everybody asked me if they could wear my style. That made me happy. I don’t believe that you have to get up every morning and look for a belt that matches your shoes. Life is short.”

Luigi’s look is enthusiastic, not ironic. He’s wearing an expertly tailored Italian suit and a beautiful shirt and tie. The precision of these pieces allows him to step out a bit—okay, a lot.

Suit, shirt, tie, pocket square, and belt by Kiton. Sneakers by Superga. Watch by Rolex. Bracelets (on left hand) by Dodo.

Photo: Ben Watts

Wear It on Your Chest
Derrick Miller, Creative Director, Barker Black Ltd.

“My dad always said the one part of your outfit you should have fun with is your pocket square. This lime green one was in Barker Black’s very first collection, and I pretty much wear it every day. It’s a little outside my comfort zone in terms of how bright it is, but I like how it pushes the envelope. I have a lot of gray and navy in my wardrobe, and it pops against those colors. My brother and I go back and forth about how to fold a pocket square. My dad just jams it in there, over and over—it’s like a Jackson Pollock. It looks crazy when he’s doing it, but then all of a sudden it’s right. Sometimes it’ll hang four or five inches out of his pocket. I’m not quite there yet; I like to think I’m still a bit more reserved than that.”

Your pocket square should complement your tie, not match it exactly: You don’t want to look like Jimmy and Howie on the Fox NFL pregame show.

Pocket square, tie, and shoes by Barker Black. Suit jacket by Thom Browne New York. Shirt, custom-made. Pants by Paul Stuart.

Photo: Ben Watts

Live It Up—Dress Down
Walker MacWilliam, Vice President, Men’s Design, Coach

“I don’t like fake distressed clothing; I like it to be my distressed. There’s nothing better than when clothes age: Jeans fit you better, chinos break down and soften. But it’s also how you age them. I’ve never owned an iron; I have zero dry-cleaning bills. I wash all my shirts and hang-dry everything. That’s my recipe for perfectly wrinkled clothes. Because there’s good wrinkled and bad wrinkled. I know good wrinkled and what fabrics are going to give it to me. I don’t want to look like I slept in my clothes.”

The key to Walker’s aesthetic is no matter how beat-up and worn-in his clothes get, they’re still American classics: oxford-cloth shirts, chinos, canvas sneakers, a leather bomber.

Jacket, vintage. Shirt by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Tie by Prada. Tie bar by Herm?s. Khakis by RRL. Sneakers by Converse by John Varvatos. Glasses by Paul Smith Spectacles.

Photo: Ben Watts

Lose the Links
Wayne Maser, Photographer

“I wear Charvet French-cuff shirts all the time. But I travel a lot, and I kept losing my cuff links—they would just disappear. A couple of years ago, I was in a rush, and all I could find were these garbage ties. Now I go into bakeries all over the place, looking for the gold or silver ones they use. I’ve stopped buying cuff links entirely; I only use bakery ties—that’s what I like to call them. When you’re in a pinch, they’re a great emergency aid. Not good, great.”

If you’re going to go for Wayne’s trick, just remember: Do it with confidence. You will get comments.

Shirt and pocket square by Charvet. Sports jacket by Richard Anderson, London. Glasses by Oliver Peoples.

Photo: Ben Watts

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Michael Caine
Michael Caine’s oft-discussed working-class mannerisms are more than endearing idiosyncrasies. “I expressed my rebellion by never getting rid of my Cockney accent,” he has said. Turns out holding on to that part of his past, refusing to belie his roots, helped distinguish Caine from his contemporaries, some of whom opted to shade their less privileged backgrounds. He didn’t possess O’Toole’s good looks or Burton’s intensity. Instead, he relied on less celestial qualities—and those everyman glasses of his younger days—to win parts. Woody Allen used him in Hannah and Her Sisters because he was believable as a “regular man.” And he was scrappy, unentitled, and relentless, grabbing role after role as if working to keep the clothes on his back. Ah, but for that, he had an ace up his sleeve: His contracts have stipulated he keep his characters’ wardrobes. “I’m the original bourgeois nightmare,” Caine once said. “A Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars.”

Dark, heavy frames make a statement. Think of them not as bookish but as perennially cool.

Photo: David Bailey

Alain Delon
In the 1960s French films Plein Soleil and Le Samouraï, Alain Delon’s characters hurt and kill almost idly, as though they couldn’t think of anything better to do. And yet none of it ever registers in his bright blue eyes or on his unlined face. It’s often said he acted as though he were wearing a mask (see the cover of the Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead—that’s him), and his clothes in Soleil and Samouraï, preppy togs and snug fedora, respectively, serve the same function—they seal the facade. Whether or not you can pin his movies’ easy detachment on his supposed association with real-life criminals (Delon’s bodyguard was found dead in a Dumpster in 1968), it’s riveting to see someone so pretty commit acts so ugly. It’s something Delon understood better than anyone. “People go to the movies to dream,” he said, “not to see actors with faces like their plumber.”

Dress for the occasion. When you’re vacationing in the south of Italy in the middle of summer, it’s okay to undo an extra button.

Photo: 1978 Sanford Roth /AMPAS/MPTV

Pete Doherty
Likes crack; digs heroin. Frequent run-ins with the law. But used to shag Kate Moss! What else is there to say about Pete Doherty? One more thing: He’s always had, for worse more than better, a certain authenticity. Rock ’n’ roll may be dying, but for now he’s the only bona fide let’s-dial-it-back-to-1972 rock star we’ve got. Other rockers look his part or act his part, or sport the lank hair and wet-Play-Doh complexion, but Pete actually does the drugs and has the sex. And in so doing, he provides us with that all-important figure: the young wastrel we sort of envy but we’re glad we’re not. As an old girlfriend of Pete’s once said in a British newspaper: “It is difficult for his friends to tell him he is going wrong in his life, because he’s been dating one of the world’s most beautiful women, he’s got a top-ten single with his band, and he’s on the front of every newspaper in this country.”

Just because you’re wearing a suit doesn’t mean you can’t wear boots. But we’re not talking businessman suits—we’re talking slim-cut, rock-guy getups.

Photo: Rex Features/Everett Collection

Hedi Slimane
When you see Hedi Slimane in person, he reminds you of a Japanimation character: two-dimensionally skinny, big round Speed Racer eyes, and a stop-and-stare hairdo that has ranged from a faux hawk (which he is credited with creating, back around 1998) to, more recently, a helmetlike cut that feels vaguely East Berlin. Except that you don’t even need to see Slimane to appreciate the former Dior Homme designer’s style. Just look at Justin Timberlake or Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong or any number of young, cool-cat actors. Basically, any of us slinking around in an anorexically thin black tie; or a superslim, short-cut suit; or white sneakers with slouchy jeans and a suit jacket; or a back-from-the-dead fedora owes a debt to Slimane. Some designers make beautiful clothes; some change the way we dress. Slimane has done both.

It’s all about fit. No matter your body type, your clothes—especially your suit jackets—should deftly shadow its lines, favoring precision over indecision.

Photo: Art Department

Cary Grant
“It’s sort of a mystery,” muses Eva Marie Saint on what set apart her North by Northwest costar, Cary Grant. “Other men wear suits. But with other men, there’s the man and then there’s the suit on him. That didn’t happen to Cary Grant. Style was like a skin.” Whether that skin was custom Kilgour or off-the-rack Brooks Brothers, the legendary actor wore it effortlessly. He became the twentieth century’s model of polished masculinity—all worsteds, understated silks, and unparalleled ease. But before he arrived in Hollywood in 1932, Grant was known as Archibald Leach, a vaudevillian acrobat who remade himself, disguising his thick neck and uneven shoulders with upturned collars and high-cut armholes that he requested of tailors everywhere from L.A. to Hong Kong. As Grant once said, “I don’t dress for the moment.” Which is why, more than two decades after his death, he remains a dominant presence in our sartorial imagination.

A light gray suit is your best bet to looking like Cary Grant. And keep the pairings simple—white shirt, dark tie, great shoes.

Photo: 2007 Mark Shaw/MPTV

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Robert Redford
Take away the matinee-idol looks (and what might be the best head of hair Hollywood’s ever seen) and Robert Redford would still earn his reputation as the quintessential all-American boy. Not some spit-polish-clean kid, but a true American. His finest work as an actor and director—movies like Three Days of the Condor, All the President’s Men, Quiz Show—has represented an America in turmoil and reflected, in some way, the importance of truth and the disastrous consequences that arise when the truth is suppressed. “Bob is all about freedom,” says Lois Smith, Redford’s publicist and friend for more than thirty-five years. “It’s part of who he is, with the Sundance Institute and his involvement with environmental causes.” Redford’s all-American sensibility also translated to his fashion sense—the tweed blazers, jeans, and mirrored aviators. Says Smith, “We used to joke that Ralph Lauren made an entire career of copying his dress.”

Wire-rimmed aviators are an essential accessory. They’re cool and refined, meaning they look right dressed up or dressed down.

Photo: Terry O’Neill/Getty Images

Jack Nicholson
About five years ago, during one of the Yankees’ late-October playoff runs, Jack Nicholson walked into Manhattan’s Pastis restaurant in the middle of the lunch rush. He was dressed in a Sopranos-grade tracksuit, a stiff Yankees cap, and a pair of black shades. The restaurant froze. Jack made his way through the tightly packed dining room and a table of five blonds whipped their necks around to stare. Without breaking stride, Jack cracked a grin and, in that raspy drawl, asked loud enough for more than a few tables to hear, “Ladies! How we doin’?” It was vintage Jack—pervy enough to appreciate their attention, cocky enough to leave them hanging, and smart enough not to let them interrupt his date with a steak sandwich. Not many of us grow up saying we want to be a heavyset divorcé who started losing his hair in his midthirties. But who wouldn’t want to be Jack? All charisma and swagger, he’s a man beyond clothes, trends, and hairdos. He’s a man, period.

A denim shirt is brilliantly, unimpeachably American. And just like a pair of jeans, it gets better the more you wear it.

Photo: David Bailey

Mick and Keith
It’s hard to imagine life before the Stones were the Stones, before they were The World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band™. But go ahead and try. Think back to Swingin’ London, a time and place that shaped them even as they shaped it. “On Carnaby Street, these kinds of clothes were available for the first time—suede jackets, Chelsea boots,” explains Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the filmmaker behind The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. “And these young musicians—who were earning money—they bought clothes.” The scarves and dangerously tight trousers that Jagger and Richards favored became the look of the moment—and of the next half century for rockers everywhere. The boys courted their bad-boy image, which culminated in several dubious drug busts. (The photo here shows Mick and Keith in July 1967, after their release by British authorities.) After that, like Lord Byron and other great British romantic heroes, Mick and Keith codified a perfect combination of dangerous and dandy. “Their look began at a time when the world was changing,” says Lindsay-Hogg. “And their look was the one you aspired to if you wanted to be Byronic, to get laid, or to be rebellious.” The rest is history.

It’s called attitude. Nothing finishes off an outfit better than a sharp dose of confidence. How else do grown men get away with wearing silk scarves and ruffled shirts?

Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

Jean-Claude Killy
“How I dress is very important,” Jean-Claude Killy says, calling from his home in Switzerland. “Like how I behave. Or how I speak.” Raised in a tiny village atop the French Alps, this son of a shop owner learned to ski shortly after he learned to walk, and shortly after that he began winning medals, finally taking three golds at the 1968 Olympic Games, which rocketed him at age 25, ready or not, into worldwide stardom. Killy looked like he was cast for the part, like Robert Redford in 1969’s Downhill Racer, only fiercer—tight wool ski pants slashed with racing stripes, mock turtlenecks tucked beneath formfitting sweaters, black leather lace-up boots, and a head of windswept hair. Killy taught us that it wasn’t enough to be an Olympic hero; you needed to look like one, too.

A truly stylish man is stylish all the time—whether he’s on the mountain, the court, or the golf course. Looking good isn’t reserved for when you’re throwing on a tie.

Photo: Presses Sports/Sports Illustrated

François Truffaut
The great French director François Truffaut was a master at blending the surprising and the mundane, artiness and earnestness, innocence and mischief. And it was that same, quintessentially French spirit—call it élégance naturelle—that informed the way he dressed. His clothes weren’t flashy, but they fit him perfectly. “He had that French chic about him,” recalls Bruce Robinson, who starred in Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H and went on to direct the cult classic Withnail & I. As a director, Robinson has tried to emulate not only Truffaut’s on-set “gentleness—his gentleman-ness, if you like,” but also his subtle fashion sense. “I used to copy the way he wore his scarf—a long scarf with a big loop, tucked inside his leather jacket. Truffaut had tremendous flair.”

Dress for the elements—in style. Flip your collar, tie your scarf with confidence, and avoid looking like the Michelin Man.

Photo: Rue Des Archives/The Granger Collection, NY