MEN’S FASHION: Editor’s letter Fall 2012
It must be that everyman sees himself in James Bond. That’s what happened to me in the course of researching the subject, which arose by way of Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style, the exhibition coming from the Barbican Centre in London to the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto in October.
The more I looked into Bond, the more I saw the secret agent as magnificent lifestyle editor, a material boy engaged with all the things—cars, drink, food, travel, toys—that are covered in a men’s magazine. And so caught up with appearances that, as author Jay McInerney once observed, he was “the only movie hero we had ever seen whose first impulse, after killing a man, was to straighten his tie.”
Of course, Bond came to film from fiction already infatuated with brand names. That was part of the character given to him by his creator, Ian Fleming, who in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service not only specifies Bond’s champagne but also what he uses to wash his hair: Pinaud Elixir, “that prince among shampoos.”
And wouldn’t you know it? Looking for moustache waxes that could come in handy when Movember rolls around, I found myself at Toronto Barber & Beauty Supply, face to face with the Pinaud label on a Classic Vanilla After Shave Lotion. I’m actually drenched in it as I write. No doubt about it: James Bond, c’est moi.
Saying that, however, I scare myself, remembering the monster imagined by Bret Easton Ellis in American Psycho, a man whose every necktie and grooming product are maniacally identified by a label or brand name.
And, yes, fashion branding can be just an excuse for senseless overstyling and criminal overpricing. But there are also labels—lots, really—that warrant attention on the basis of craft, consistency and taste. Such a one would be Dolce & Gabbana. In their fall collection, the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana paid tribute to their roots with dashing wool capes inspired by the mantles worn in their native Sicily.
Naturally, any garment reflects the panache of the guy who has it on. It takes a strong-minded man to pull off a cape in the modern world, which is what Pierre Trudeau managed to do when he wore a cape to the Grey Cup game in 1970. You didn’t have to know who designed it to recognize it as a stylish moment in the history of the trophy, which is being celebrated in November with a full-tilt festival.
Not that Trudeau was indifferent to labels. Adele Freedman recounted to me the anecdote she found in Stephen Brunt’s new book, 100 Grey Cups: This Is Our Game, which she read in preparing her account of her appreciation of Canadian football. At the Grey Cup in 1969, star quarterback Russ Jackson offered to trade his helmet for Trudeau’s newsboy cap. Trudeau said that he couldn’t possibly—the thing had been knit by his wife, Margaret.
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