Legendary Style Icon Bunny Roger fiercely donned. He invented the tight-cut Capri trousers while on holiday on the island in 1949, and by the 1950s he was sponsoring a neo-Edwardian silhouette – four-button jackets with generous shoulders and mean waists, lapelled waistcoats, high-cut trousers – for plain, checked and striped suits. Accessories, whether a high-crowned bowler or ruby cuff-links, were indispensable.
As a menswear nut, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit fawning over the sartorial splendor of the innovative, meticulous (and arguably neurotic) Prince of Wales. And if you’re a true fan of the man credited with such style staples as turn-ups (trouser cuffs) and the Windsor knot (neckwear), you’d definitely be remiss in not knowing about the one and only– Bunny Roger. Quite honestly, he’s definitely an acquired taste, and the dandy of all dandies– and now fabulously back in the spotlight with a recent inspiration nod from John Galliano. Bunny Roger, with his epic style and fabled colorful persona is the definitely the yin to the Princes’ yang. Bunny possessed a bold flair for tailoring and attitude that rivals his regal peer in terms of eccentricity, inspiration, and attention to detail. To simply say he’s an original does not do the man justice.
Circa 1951– Neil Munro (Bunny) Roger, (1911–1997), by Francis Goodman © reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London
Bunny Roger was probably not the most fearsome soldier the allied army has ever had in its ranks. Fighting for the British Rifle Brigade during the second world war, he went to battle wearing a chiffon scarf and brandishing a copy of Vogue. Once, when his sergeant asked him what should be done about the advancing enemy troops, Roger, who liked to wear rouge even with his khakis, replied, “When in doubt, powder heavily.” When he ran into an old friend in the hellish, bombed-out monestary of Monte Cassino in Italy he responded to his pal’s incredulous “What on earth are you doing here?” greeting with one word: “Shopping”. As dandies go, Roger wasn’t a massive spender – he bought a mere 15 suits a year from his London tailor, Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes, but, boy, was he ever particular. He liked exquisitely cut tartans, Edwardian-style jackets in pale shades of cerulean blue, lilac and shell pink, sharply tapered at the middle to show off his astonishing 29-inch waist. Roger, like all proper dandies, rivaled Oscar Wilde in the one-liner department. When a gobby cab driver yelled from his window, “Watch out, you’ve dropped your diamond necklace, love,” Roger replied, in a flash, “Diamonds with tweed? Never!”
Shots From the Sotheby’s catalog– Bunny’s (along with his brother’s) belongings were auctioned off back in ’98 where several of Bunny’s neckties were snatched up by none other that uber-smooth crooner Bryan Ferry.
Bunny Roger’s signature look was a Herbert Johnson high-crowned bowler hat coupled with extraordinary spectator shoes – in a myriad of color combinations, which he polished himself using homemade stains concocted from beeswax and natural dyes. Bunny enjoyed customizing his footwear, famously adding red laces to compliment his favorite ruby cufflinks. His Northampton-made footwear wardrobe was vast. For each of his suits he had four pairs of shoes or boots made, in order to maximize the number of looks for each trouser/jacket combination. Considering he owned over 150 Savile Row suits, this was no small footwear collection. Bunny often had several pairs of the same shoe made when he found a favourite leather colour or type and owned no less than 14 pairs of pale blue and white kid spectator brogues. He was a great fan of Whisky Cordovan, the palest shade of shell cordovan and notoriously difficult to obtain due to the difficulty in tanning such a light ‘tea’ hue. Unbelievable.
John Galliano’s Fall 2010 nod to the renowned dandy Bunny Roger.
Read more on Bunny here and here
Thank you so much for sharing this. I was glad to see the photos and to read the links. He led quite a life, one that many modern dandies should envy.
I wonder if the Teds, later on in the 50’s, where inspired by his taste of Edwardian?
Thanks so much for sharing.
That’s one serious dandy. 😉
Good God, 600 pairs of shoes. Fourteen pairs of blue-and-white spectators.
“Powder heavily.” The Bulletproof Fop.
He also threw the most incredible and notorious parties…
Is that car really upholstered or just painted that way? The fringe over the wheel wells makes it hard to tell.
oh this is great… and that car!!
Good styleforum thread on him: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=50106
Modern day dandy Hamish Bowles also reportedly purchased several things from Roger’s estate auction.
He had his suits done at the Savile Row firm of Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes and the shoes were by Poulsen, Skone & Co. His sharply upturned bowlers were by Herbert Johnson. The catalog notes that every year, he would order about 15 new suits, each costing up to 2,000 pounds back in the ’60s.
He favored an extremely fitted Edwardian shape with turn-up sleeve cuffs, and tapered military trousers which suited his Chelsea boots and faux-spatted button boots. When he was vacationing in Capri, he kept telling the Italian tailors he was commissioning some pants from, “stretta, stretta” until the narrow fit was achieved. Another one of his signatures was a carnation that coordinated with whatever color he was wearing at the time. He also abhorred turn-ups on trousers.
His day-suits usually had three waist seams to achieve the desired curve. Among the more interesting items was a lurex psychedelic Nehru suit for evening wear, like something Austin Powers might wear for a ball.
When he was in the Rifle Brigade, he saved a fallen cadre in no-man’s land, whilst rogued and wearing a chiffon scarf with his uniform.
His measurements, as noted by Sotheby’s, were:
Wow, this guy is a total fop.
So this is where Nick Cave got the name for his latest novel, The Death of Bunny Munro. Interesting.
I do imagine that the Teddy Boys were greatly influenced by Bunny.
Oh, without a doubt.
”Bunny enjoyed customizing his footwear, famously adding red laces to compliment his favorite ruby cufflinks.”
Beyond, beyond brilliant!
The Selvedge Yard is unmatched.
On the rare whisky shell cordovan leather shoes, Alden’s lightest brown is referred to as “Whiskey Cordovan”. I’ve seen it at their shop in San Francisco, and it is oddly pale. I believe Horween is the only company even attempting to make it today. (Personally, I go for the classic dark burgundy color, though.)
Hardy Amies predicted Bunny’s cut for the future of mens suits in his ‘ABC of Men’s Fashion’ published in ’64 with a recent publishing in 2007. Amies writes that the slim silhouette with a calf length boots (Bunny’s look in late 40’s / early 50’s) and snap brim hatswas gonna be the look of the mid 60’s.
It’s a great style but I would say limited to assless Brits who are tall and tall and skinny. Nicky Haslam seems the heir apparent.
I just noticed that you ascribe the creation of the Windsor knot to the former Edward VIII. I recall reading that he disavowed any such creation, saying he favored a large four-in-hand knot (see Prince Michael of Kent for a modern example of this trend among British royals). As I understand it, someone else created it in the attempt to make a large knot without resorting to bespoke neckwear (as the Duke did).
And that is the gayest car I have ever seen. Liberace would be embarrassed.
Bunny Rogers was one very Cool Dude ,,,,,,They don’t turn them out as well Today ,,, I give ” it ” a go trow’in the Shapes ,,,Being a Period Retro Neo Edwardian ,,,,But I can only cast a pale shadow ,,,,,in the bright light of greatness..!
He also held the Military Cross for Galantry! Last seen charging forward machine gun blazing and wildly throwing hand grenades after he realised “his boys” were in trouble and not expected to be seen alive again. when everyone eventually advanced forward he was found occupying a german position surrounded by dead bodies and commented “daddy will have to buy me a new mink for this” he did not get the mink but did get the MC at Buckingham palace.
My mother had worked for him as a model in the early 50s and I was lucky enough to meet him in his early 70’s I will never forget him coming to the car dealership where I worked in Kensington on way to his 70th Birthday as he jumped out of cab in purple sequined cat suit and called to all the mechanics “Hello Boys bunnys here” my jaw dropped, he had promised to show al lthe mechanics in the garage his party frock before racing off to his party.
He was such a gentleman, people of that quality are few and far between now.