The Classicist: Celebrating a Century of Style Icons
Cary Grant, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Tom Ford and David Beckham have all had an undeniably important influence on the world of men's style – but what about Truman Capote, Che Guevara, the Sex Pistols and Jarvis Cocker? They all deserve credit as well, argues Simone Werle in a cool, lavishly illustrated new book called Fashionisto: A Century of Style Icons from Prestel. Werle names 50 figures from the last 100 years who have had an impact not only on the way men choose to adorn themselves but how they act and as well. She dubs them "fashionistos", the male equivalent of the famous fashionista. What makes a man a fashionisto? "Swagger, elegance, daring, perhaps a really well cut suit," the author notes, but not always – see Oscar Wilde, Johnny Depp and Kurt Cobain.
Each icon is featured in a double page spread with glossy full-color photographs and Werle's acute observations, anecdotes, and historical insight. While you may not have personally felt the sartorial influence of Boy George or Bootsy Collins, Werle makes a compelling case for their inclusion. She divides the book into sections according to the various styles or fashion phylum represented: The Gentlemen, The Rebels, The Dandies, The Rock Stars, The Classics, The Fashion Designers, The Beautiful People, The Bands and The Extraterrestrials.
"Fashionistos like fashionistas choose clothing that accentuates their best parts, not only of their bodies but also their personalities," Werle writes. "Both know when to follow the rules of style and when to break them. And both have the courage to stay who they are. But all the same, there is a huge difference. Men have a much easier time in fashion – and yet a much more difficult one." How so, you ask? "Classic men's fashion has very clear-cut rules; if you follow them, you can't go wrong. The man who doesn't look good in a custom-made suit of ﬁne fabric has yet to be born," she notes. "But to make a mark on the history of style, more is needed – and this is where it gets tricky. Men's fashion does not suffer rebels gladly. If you have the courage to rebel, you need self-conﬁdence – and more than that, a sense of style."
Just as every fashionisto is truly individual, Werle notes, so is his wardrobe. "Elegance can blend with defiance, just as effeminate chic can blend with a rock-star attitude. Everything is permitted, as long as the mix is characteristic of its wearer – and, ideally, of the zeitgeist. If that is the case, the result is an intangible ﬂair that elevates a respectably dressed man to a man with true style." The Classicist concurs and suggests you acquire a copy for your style library.