1950’s BRIONI ROMAN STYLE TAKES TINSELTOWN | SACKING IVY STYLE

Tailor Nazareno Fonticoli & socialite Gaetano Savini founded one of Italy’s most iconic fashion brands in Rome, 1945.  The pair wanted a name that would evoke both the ultimate in luxury, as well as being short and memorable for the American, fashion-forward men they were targeting. They chose “Brioni” — a small island off the coast of Croatia (once owned by Italy), that was playground to the rich and famous.

Fonticoli’s sartorial skill and Savini’s social networking prowess proved to be a potent one-two punch that rocked the boxy Ivy League sack suit, and stuffy Savile Row, back on their heels.  Their reputation and legend grew strictly by word of mouth, as Hollywood’s biggest stars (Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne to name just a few) became faithful customers and highly visible spokesmen for Brioni– a brand that would not see the need or desire to advertise in the traditional sense until some 40+ years later.

Along the way, they set the gold standard by preserving and innovating the art of fine Italian tailoring. In 1978, Brioni opened what is now one of Italy’s most highly regarded tailoring schools– offering a four-year program that not only keeps Brioni’s own talent teeming, but also the world’s best fashion houses and clothiers.  Bravo!



Brioni Roman Style S.p.A. co-founder, Gaetano Savini with handsome Hollywood icon, John Wayne.

In 1960, the young tailor from Abruzzo and the entrepreneur from Umbria made their mark as the world’s ambassadors of Italian Sartorial excellence.  Brioni melded ancient sartorial principles with modern industrial organization, thus staying ahead of evolving fashion trends and technology. via

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BEFORE ELVIS THERE WAS NOTHING.

Saying that Elvis is an icon doesn’t quite cut it. There’s really never been anyone else who’s come along since that could fill his mammoth shoes in terms of talent, looks, style, presence and star power– and likely never will be. Don’t even think the words “Michael Jackson,” no way. Not. Even. Close. Jackson took a lot of style cues from Elvis, from his trim black pants, white socks, and black loafers– and obviously his slick dance moves were a tribute to the King’s infamous gyrations first unleashed back in ’56 on “The Milton Berle Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Those infamous performances (for which he was paid handsomely for, and drew ratings that were off the charts) instantly made him public enemy #1 with parents (who feared the effect that his racy “colored” music would have on their kids) as well as self-appointed decency censors and morality police across the nation.

Looking back on these epic Images of “The King of Rock & Roll”– it’s easy to see what all the fuss was about. Electrifying music, intense energy & sexuality– complete with bad boy sneer & stellar style. Elvis created a bold & sexy Rock Star image unrivaled by anyone– back when the fashion landscape was sterile and buttoned-up. And he did it all through sheer originality, determination and attitude.  The signature slick-backed hair was died so black– it actually had a blue tint.  The clothes went from fierce, flashy Rockabilly Badass to uber-Vegas Lizard King– yet through it all he was and still is, the one and only “King of Rock & Roll”– warts and all.

photo by the multi-talented Kate McQueen

“I happened to come along in the music business when there was no trend. “


The hair, the eyes, the sneer, the pelvis… Elvis

Memphis, 1956– Elvis Presley outside Jim’s Barber Shop on South Main Street. Looks like he’s gettin’ a ticket and funnin’ with the cop as only Elvis could.

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THE FILTH & THE FASHION | VIVIENNE WESTWOOD’S ’70s SEX RAG REVOLUTION

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Jordan- the sassy sado SEX clerk that would accomodate your purchase at the King’s Road Boutique.

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Malcolm McLaren gets a lot of credit for carefully crafting The Sex Pistols’ schtick, sound, and look.  His real-life partner and cohort in concocting, not only the look of The Sex Pistols, but the Punk movement at large was, as we all know– Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Her tartan bondage suits, leather studs, and shocking tees (I won’t get into the naughty bits) were the, eh-hem, uniform for the 1970’s punk movement that lashed-out against hygiene, authority, rules, corporate rock, and mainstream society as a whole.  It was a cultural correction– a necessary reset that would inspire and create great music, art, and fashion to this day.  It was quite a scene back then, with no shortage of characters in the Malcolm/Westwood mix– The Sex Pistols of course, as well as Siouxsie Sioux, and Chrissie Hynde, among others… oh, and of course Jordan.  Oh my.

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(Lt.) Jordan stands seductively in front of the King’s Road SEX boutique.  (Rt.) McLaren & Westwood.

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McLaren & Westwood’s SEX boutique on King’s Road in Chelsea started out in ’71 as a small record shop where McLaren and a friend peddled vinyl, magazines and rock memorabilia.   It soon grew into Let It Rock– a hip “Teddy Boy” shop that sold used, as well as new fashions (designed by Malcolm’s school teacher gal-pal Westwood), that soon became all the rage for their creepers & pegged pants.  It changed fashion direction in ’72 and was renamed Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die until 1974, when it once again got a facelift.

Christened with 4 ft. tall hot pink foam letters mounted directly to the graffiti-covered storefront spelling-out the new shop’s namesake– SEX carried innovative and provocative fashions designed by Vivienne Westwood, as well as authentic bondage & fetish gear– creating a look called Punk. The list of names that frequented and/or worked at SEX reads like a “who’s who” of early Punk Rock history.  Punk now had a name, a sound, and finally– an official shop, which would soon spawn imitators (BOY) ready to cash-in.

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The infamous SEX boutique of Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood on King’s Road, Chelsea. via

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JACKIE STEWART | THE FLYING SCOT’S OLD SCHOOL FORMULA ONE STYLE

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1971, Montjuich, Spain — Chris Amon, driving for Matra, and Jackie Stewart, driving for Tyrrell-Ford, celebrate their 3rd and 1st place finishes at the 1971 Spanish Grand Prix. — Image by © Schlegelmilch/ Corbis

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

When I am having a rough one at work, I sit back in my chair, sigh deeply, close my eyes and pretend I am in swinging London in the Sixties, driving on the Formula One circuit, beautiful women and a magnum of Dom waiting for me in the winner’s circle, and I am always driving the Tyrrell 03 Cosworth Elf Car like my idol Sir John Young Stewart, otherwise known as Jackie.

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1971, Zeltweg, Austria — Jo Siffert in the BRM (No. 14), pole position, took the lead at the start of the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix. Beside him Jackie Stewart in the Tyrrell Ford-Cosworth. Behind them Francois Cevert in the 2nd Tyrrell and Clay Regazzoni in the Ferrari. — Image by © Schlegelmilch/Corbis

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | JAMES DEAN CULTURAL GIANT OF THE REBEL SET

The irony is that James Dean was considered anything but stylish by many of his Hollywood peers of the day. He turned heads and created a legend, not by dressing up– but by dressing down.  Established style icon Humphrey Bogart looked down his nose at Dean, considering him a punk and a slob.  On Jimmy’s passing, Bogart had this to say– “Dean died at just the right time. He left behind a legend. If he’d lived, he’d never have been able to live up to the publicity.” Bogart was right in that Dean was difficult, and definitely not a natty dresser– but his impact on style can never be diminished.

James Dean cemented the rebel uniform for his generation of youth, and for many to come, through his very personal portrayal of Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause. Immortalized onscreen in Technicolor wearing the now iconic red jacket, white tee, Lee 101 Jeans, and engineer boots, Dean seemed to hold the world breathless, and became the first actor to speak for the silent anguished teen– he gave them a voice they had been lacking. Before James Dean, onscreen you were either a boy or a man. Dean’s influence on countless great actors that followed him created some incredible performances, like Martin Sheen in Badlands, who owes Jimmy everything he knows about acting.

“Jimmy Dean and Elvis were the spokesmen for an entire generation. When I was in acting school in New York, years ago, there was a saying that if Marlon Brando changed the way people acted, then James Dean changed the way people lived. He was the greatest actor who ever lived. He was simply a genius.” – Martin Sheen

James Dean on the set of George Steven’s epic 1956 masterpiece, Giant. It was Jimmy’s last film, and was released after his tragic death behind the wheel of the infamous “Little Bastard'” Porsche Spyder. Jimmy was on his way with mechanic Rolf Wütherich to Salinas to pursue his other passion– racing cars. James Dean received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor posthumously, the only person to this day to ever do so– in 1955 for East of Eden, and again in 1956 for Giant.  — image via Hulton archive

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In 2006, the original Lee 101z Rider jeans worn by James Dean (pictured above) were auctioned off for $35,850. Lee Japan has introduced a replica of these same 101Z Rider jeans worn by James dean in Giant for the Lee Archives in 13,25oz narrow loom, Sanforized indigo cast denim with its characteristic one-side selvedge.

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James Dean as the surly and misunderstood Jett Rink in George Steven’s epic masterpiece, “Giant.”

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PHOTOGRAPHY OF HENRY HORENSTEIN AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE — HONKY TONK

Jesus, take the wheel– Country music has done run itself off into a ditch.

The hollow Country/Pop crossover stars of today are more L.A. than Nashville. They make Garth Brooks look like Hank Williams. Video killed the AM radio star. Henry Horenstein’s Portraits of Country Music 1972-1981 is a hugely inspiring photographic archive that perfectly captures the days when Country was C-O-U-N-T-R-Y. The artists talked the talk, and walked the walk. They had personality, talent, were characters, and yes– could be a bit corny as well. But in retrospect, that too is part of the charm and allure. So take a spin. Each brilliant Horenstein capture is better than the last, and makes me pine for simpler times– not to mention an icy cold can of Schlitz.

15 July 1972, Billerica, MA — Don Stover was a bluegrass banjo picker from White Oak, West Virginia. He came to Boston in 1952 with the Lilly Brothers from nearby Beckley and they played together for over eighteen years at Boston’s Hillbilly Ranch. Stover had great influence on a generation of important young banjo pickers. He influenced Bill Keith who introduced chromatic scales to bluegrass as a member of Bill Monroe’s band and Bela Fleck, a bluegrass and jazz-fusion star. — Image by © Henry Horenstein

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1972, Boston, MA — Porter Wagoner Sitting on a Piano Playing Guitar (nice Nudie suit Porter) — Image by © Henry Horenstein

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15 July 1978, Boston, MA — Lilly Brothers reunion show at the Hillbilly Ranch. The term “Honky Tonk” strictly refers to the type of bar that became popular after prohibition ended in the mid 1930’s. These bars were a little seedy and usually located on the outskirts of town. Honky tonks were a haven where a band could learn and hone its skills. — Image by © Henry Horenstein*

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | TOM WOLFE THE ORIGINAL THIN, WHITE DUKE

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“There are just two classes of men in the world, men with suits whose buttons are just sewn onto the sleeve, just some kind of cheapie decoration, or—yes!—men who can unbutton the sleeve at the wrist because they have real buttonholes and the sleeve really buttons up.”

The Secret Vice, by Tom Wolfe

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In 1952, a promising young pitching prospect out of Washington and Lee University showed up for a tryout with the New York Giants (the baseball Giants, that is– they hadn’t yet decamped for San Francisco).  The prospect made a decent showing: three innings, three men on base, no runs scored.  Good screwball, nice sinker, not much heat.  “If somebody had offered me a Class D professional contract,” says the prospect– whose name was Tom Wolfe– many decades later, “I would have gladly put off writing for a couple of decades.”  But the Giants cut Wolfe after two days, and he became a giant of another kind. (Via)

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

Recently, in the wake of the recession, Wall Street greed, and the wreckage of Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns et al, the term “Master of The Universe” keeps getting thrown around to describe these fallen titans of Lower Manhattan.  Whenever I hear this term I always think of the man who penned it, my nominee for the TSY Style Hall of Fame, Tom Wolfe.

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1970s, New York City — Author Tom Wolfe — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis

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Cultural Chronicler is another term that also gets thrown around a lot– I mean one well reviewed novel and Bret Easton Ellis was the voice of his generation (I remember I lived through it), but few American wordsmiths can actually lay claim to writing about the people and events that shaped a lot of the last 50 years of the 20th Century as a largely inside observer, and in the process coining some phrases that became part of the popular lexicon.

Tom Wolfe always managed to get underneath the surface of events and reveal the most primal of human emotions-greed, arrogance, courage, humor, longing-and come up with phrases like “Radical Chic”, “The Me Generation”, “Social X-Ray”, “The Right Stuff”, and one of his favorites “Good Ol Boy” which he used to describe the racecar driver Junior Johnson.

Other than being an avid reader of Wolfe’s work I have a somewhat personal connection.  For a few years we lived in the same NYC neighborhood and while I can never say I spoke to him, he was impossible to miss.  A tall man, with an aquiline nose Wolfe was always decked in an immaculate white suit, high collar Jermyn Street custom dress shirt, splendid tie, pocket square that screamed dandy, white shoes, and occasionally white hat.  His style was very much like his writing, elegant but with a sense of humor and irony.  I mean who dresses like that anymore!  Yet Tom Wolfe looked crisp on the hottest of days.

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Tom Wolfe — the American journalist, pop critic and novelist, 1980. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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THE TRENCH COAT MAFIA | ICONIC OUTERWEAR THAT’S ALWAYS IN STYLE

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“The trench coat is the only thing that has kept its head above water.”

–Jack Lipman

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Having spent years ridin’ the rails on the commuter train in-and-out of Manhattan, there are clearly two leading outerwear icons that are inescapable– the Barbour Beaufort, and the timeless Burberry Trench. Both are must-haves for the Northeastern climate in terms of their functionality, versatility and style.  It’s not uncommon at all the see a Barbour over a sportcoat or suit, although I oft feel the length and proportions are somewhat off– not to mention I like to keep the Barbour waxed within an inch of it’s life, and therefore it’s not exactly the best companion for co-mingling with tailored clothing.  For me, there’s nothing better than seeing a seasoned, well put-together professional sporting the old school classic essentials– Ghurka bag, Burberry trench, J. Press suit, and cordovans.  The trench is tearin’ up the runway right now, but don’t buy it for the reviews– wear it for its epic merits.

Now, if only proper headwear would make a comeback– and I’m not talking about knit caps.

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1985– Artist David Hockney Smoking Cigar Outside Barn. –Image by © Michael Childers/Corbis

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | FRENCHMAN JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmon*

JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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Jean-Paul “Bébel” Belmondo, sometimes hailed as France’s answer to Humphrey Bogart or Steve McQueen, took the international film scene by storm in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic Breathless. Check out a primer of his best films here. Belmondo, the sexy and stylish star of the Nouvelle Vague (the new wave of cult French cinema), worked with leading directors from Louis Malle to Truffaut, and was widely heralded for his comedic and action star talents (he routinely performed his own stunts)– but for some reason, he never really connected with the mainstream American audience.

Jean-Paul Belmondo’s seemingly carefree chic and sensational style were no accident– he had an innate sartorial talent that was light years ahead of his peers, and remains the benchmark for classic French street style.  In fact, he’s easily one of the most legendary style icons of our time– no doubt about it.

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Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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