Monday, 29 October 2012

Rise of True Style Icons

As many of you point out without fail or misinformation, many of our style icons in the eponymous series suffer from the fatal flaw of being styled by someone other than themselves. This new series is guaranteed to represent purely original and eclectic style, with each true style icon an encouragement to us to follow suit, and form your identity from your own background, jobs, past times and interests. After all, that is what true style is, isn’t it?

Thankfully, there are men with serious style credentials who fit this bill. Whereas in the past, actors, musicians and artists found themselves being the poster boy for many a fashion house or … these ‘real’ style icons, who include Sam Lambert and Lino Ieluzzi, are known first and foremost for their unique sense of style, and as a result are photographed no matter their location or purpose.

Blogs, the source of these men’s fame, have been on a meteoric rise in terms of influence on the industry. They give people without the connections and/or looks, a chance to comment on anything related to fashion, imparting knowledge to the ignorant male keen to learn more. In turn, those already with their own perspective on style and trends engage in a diverse battle entailing the influence of culture and background, origins of style and ambiguous definitions. Such commentary requires confidence, charisma and of course, a great deal of style. People like Joshua Kiss of Street Etiquette, embody these characteristics and are responsible for a community of admirers and inspired men.

Of course, blogs inspire possible outfits with pictures of clothes worn in an unprecedented manner, with imaginative combinations, as noted by Scott Schuman with his new feature ‘If you’re thinking about...’. The accessible nature of blogging on the net has undoubtedly played a huge part in encouraging different approaches to dressing and observing that of others, as well as supporting the wider menswear industry with the rise of stylish and knowledgeable men keen to play a part in the future of menswear.

Style is a visual medium that means people have to see an outfit they like to be inspired by it. Furthermore, style as a concept (I know, ugly word) is a very personal thing, and as such, men with style easily channel their personality through their clothes, meaning that we never see two stylish men dressed the same. The same cannot be said for celebrities dressed by overpaid, overhyped, demi-celeb stylists.

Therefore, honest interviews about their inspirations from everyday life – hearsay or not, it is feasible that clotted cream inspired O’Shea to don the much forgotten cream coloured shirt – coupled with photographs of them with their distinct posture and expression, makes them far more relatable to us. Sure, many of them, like celebrities, aren’t going to be worrying about the increase in energy bills, but at least they live in our world and make their own mistakes.

Furthermore, people like Lino Ieluzzi, Shaka Maidoh and Angelo Flaccavento look as comfortable as they do impeccably dressed, not because they’re wearing the softest wools, but for the simple fact that they are in their own clothes! We can relate to these guys in the liberating confines of freedom of thought and expression.

They try to look at ease as previously foreign cameras start clicking and videos rolling, in fact, these guys do look at ease as cameras click and videos roll on. That is because they are wearing clothes they want to wear, dress that reflects who they are and by extension, their ideals and standards. Those who think such a description may be a tad superfluous, are ignoring, by enlarge, the well-trodden path of young men still exploring themselves from teens to their 30’s, where they tend to have a rather eclectic taste in clothes, as well as art and music. 

Conversely, men who have established their own style of dress, taste in art and music, tend to be in their 40’s and continue to replicate such facets of personal style in subsequent decades.
These faces appear on many blogs and runways, deservedly replacing those green-eyed stylists, and will continue to do so for a number of years to come. The real breakthrough will be when magazines, with many more commitments and tenuous ties to capitalist establishments than the user friendly, unbiased world wide web, expose these men to the printing press with the same relish as they flag up the latest exploits of relatives up and coming in the industry.

Originality is a much-used word when talking about menswear, and fashion in general, but isn’t it strange that there are still so many references, even actual garments, embracing nostalgic icons like James Dean and Paul Newman as if no one had any new ideas of their own? Now these guys have earned the aesthetical respect society so lavishly gives them, but it is time that we appreciate equally as impressively styled men, with their own mode of style that at least means that the boys of this world can grow up excited to be in this period of menswear.

After all, you must realise that these guys are held to such a high standard because they were breaking boundaries at the time with attitudes befitting their attire. Fortunately, there are real men keen to rise out of the ashes of those intimidating yet inert forces that are partially responsible for such a stagnant period in men’s style. I will write a few words to sum up the man and his style of four of my favourite ‘real’ style icons.

The Fantastic Four

Lino Ieluzzi:
A sought after subject of photographers world over, Lino is renowned for his double breasted jackets and ties with the number seven sown into them. As an Italian it is no surprise that he has a love of tailoring, preferably separates, and consistently turns out in the most classic pieces menswear has to offer, all perfectly fitted and finished off typically with a sumptuous pair of double monk straps. Colours tend to be understated with little details providing points of interest.

Sam Lambert:
Best known for always wearing a hat as well as a beard, Sam Lambert is the jovial face of smart dressing with a twist. He always imbues his outfits with a little of his personality that, matched with a little sartorial know how, breaks boundaries in a distinctive but not ostentatious way: an enviable combination.

Angelo Flaccavento:
He says himself that his “choices have become stricter, but tailoring softer”, as he approaches forty. Even so, his style is eclectic in its silhouette, colour and juxtaposition of fabric, but altogether he tends to dress in a quirky fusion of classic style and individual preferences, such as short trousers with a wider hem. Just like our other real style icons, he is a firm believer in one not looking like her tried to dress to impress.

Justin O’Shea:
Probably the most rebellious dresser out of the four, O’Shea channels a rock n roll meets biker vibe that means roll-up t-shirts and dark raw denim are the essential elements of his wardrobe. Facial hair and muted colours play on the darker themes of his attire, and he mixes up casual and formal outfits depending on his mood, rather than his location which says a lot about the power of the man.

These real style icons are the result, as much as they are the means, of a booming interest in menswear interest and profits. Such men are set to have growing interest in the direction of men’s fashion for the foreseeable future, having laid the foundations for a more stylish and perceptive menswear community as we speak. It’s safe to say, we are in good hands.

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