Friday, December 22, 2006
GET CARRIED AWAY
George Clooney just gave this stylish book to his Ocean's Thirteen castmates (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc.)--and if you have yet to nail the right gift for the hard-to-shop-for man in your life, this book might be just the ticket. It's available on Amazon, so there's still time to give an elegant New Year's gift. Click here to view.
This is my last post until January, so I thought I'd leave you with this wonderful little chat I just had with author and illustrator, Richard Torregrossa.
Richard at his book launch party sponsored by Giorgio Armani and Town & Country magazine.
In my spare moments I've been reading his book, Cary Grant, A Celebration of Style, which demands more attention than your ordinary beautiful coffee table book. At the very least, it's a detailed account of how Cary Grant transformed himself into one of the world's greatest style icons in a time before stylists made the man.
By learning to wear the right suits, understanding the fine art of mismatching prints, going to the right tailors, hiding his flaws with turned up collars and padded shoulders, Cary Grant cultivated an air of ease and grace. Richard says that there is a deeper meaning to the book. "Style is a reflection of the inner person, a manifestation of character. Grant's sense of correctness extended to all areas of his life, not only how he wore his suits but how he behaved socially and professionally. Cary Grant made good manners sexy."
Giorgio Armani writes the forward, Michael Kors writes the book's afterward, and Richard also interviews Tom Wolfe, Eva Marie Saint, Helen Gurley Brown, and Peter Bogdanovich, as well as Grant's former Savile Row tailor, to create the overall picture of how Cary Grant's style came to be so copied and admired.
mj: What was your experience with Giorgio Armani like?
richard: Mr. Armani's work ethic and passion for what he does was an inspiration to me. He's not a very big man, but he has a big charismatic, perhaps even intimidating presence, a kind of stature that's hard to describe. You feel it. And it permeates every aspect of what he does. There's a consistency and quality of vision in his work that is rare in the world of fashion. With all of his responsibilities, I was awed by the attention he gave to my book and the thought he put into the Foreword. He is truly a Cary Grant fan, and when you think about it, it makes sense because they are both minimalists with an appreciation of understated elegance in and over-stated world.
Richard has illustrated several of his own books as well as illustrated Daily Meditations for Women Who Love Too Much by bestselling author Robin Norwood. He was kind enough to share some of his illustrations with TrustYourStyle--thanks Richard!
mj: How would you describe your own style?
richard: Classic with an occasional trendy flourish. Style is serious business, the right ties and shirts to go with my worsted wool mid-gray suits, but occasionally you gotta have a little fun with fashion, kick it up a notch with, say, a Tear Drop Fedora or a Pork Pie hat, or some of the accessories that seem to be all the rage, such as a bright red butonniere, a pair of killer cuff links, or a vest or sweater in argyle, the come-back pattern of the moment.
mj: How did you get into fashion journalism?
richard: Men and women who have a keen sense of personal style have always fascinated me. They seem more confident and, well, strange to say perhaps, but happier than other people. So I began to study how they achieved this sense of ease and elegance; it's harder than you might think. It takes a lot of discipline and knowledge, but it's tremendously empowering. Since I always try to write about what I enjoy, it was just a natural next step for me to start making my own journalistic statements about fashion and style.
mj: What tips would you give to others to develop their own style?
1. Dress your age. 2. Emulate a person or style you admire but put your own stamp on it. 3. Black is NOT slimming; black makes you look older. At least if you wear all black. Black is only slimming if it's part of your ensemble. 3. Get a full length mirror. Women already know the importance of this wardrobe essential. Men seem to take pretty good care of themselves until they get to about the knees. I see a lot of men in smart suits, shirts and ties, but they ruin the effect by wearing bad shoes. If they had a full-length mirror that flaw would be glaring and I'd bet they'd correct it. Also, you need a full-length mirror to see how well your clothes drape from head to toe. It will also help you discover unsightly bulges caused by pockets stuffed with wallets or keys. Men from the Golden Era of Hollywood like Cary Grant wouldn't even carry a coin in their pocket because they knew it would mar the flowing line of their silhouette.
mj: Do you have new projects that you're working on?
richard: Yes, my next book. It's called Secrets of Savile Row: An Anecdotal History of The World's Most Stylish Street. I'm having enormous fun collecting tales about everybody from Beau Brummell to Ozwald Boateng. Most people think Savile Row is a men's Mecca, but historically it's been just as popular with women, as it is today, so the book will contain tart and tasty tales about everybody from Queen Elizabeth to Ava Gardner, Princess Diana to Nicole Kidman.
mj: What would your ideal project be?
richard: Actually, the one I'm working on now, my book about Savile Row. I believe that in the future Savile Row will be a style leader in the way fashion designers are today. Savile Row is going through a resurgence, a rethinking of itself that will result in something new and powerful because it will blend the best of the past with a modern fashion-forward creativity.
Here's A FEW THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT RICHARD TORREGROSSA:
A) THE FOUR MOST STYLISH PEOPLE THAT INFLUENCED ME:
1 Cary Grant
2 Giorgio Armani
3 Zachary Scott
4 Johnny Depp
B) FOUR WAYS THAT STYLE MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE:
1 Style is empowering.
2 Style, if done well, transcends the commercial aspects of fashion and becomes an art form.
3 It gives us a voice, a liberating means to express ourselves.
4 Style gives us the inspiration and tools to be the person we want to be.
C) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE DESIGNERS:
1 Giorgio Armani
2 Yves Saint Laurent
3 Alan Flusser
4 Hardy Amies
D) FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE:
1 Personal trainer
2 London Tour Guide
4 Male model
E) FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER (AND DO):
1 The Pope of Greenwich Village
2 A Hard Day's Night
3 Woman In the Window (with Edward G. Robinson, direected by Fritz Lang)
4 Portrait of Jenny (with Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones)
F) FOUR PLACES WHERE I HAVE LIVED:
1 Brooklyn, New York
2 London, England
3 Los Angeles, CA
4 San Diego
G) FOUR TV SHOWS I LOVE TO WATCH:
1. ESPN's Sports Center (and Cold Pizza)
2. The King of Queens
3. Blind Date
4. A&E's "Breakfast with the Arts"
H) FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN ON VACATION IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS:
1 Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
2 The San Juan Islands
3 Staten Island, NY
4 Aspen, CO
I) FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY (Or at least Weekly):
J) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS:
1 Toast and tea
2 A Tanqueray No. Ten martini with a shrimp cocktail (the perfect meal)
3 Grilled Halibut at the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge
4 Anything at the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge
K) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
There's no place I'd rather be than right here at my desk, writing. Writing is an unrivaled joy. To write well is a huge pleasure, and even though it's hard work, I never feel better than when I'm at it.