Michael Caine as Chester King, aka “Arthur”, secret agency chief
London, Spring 2014
Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Martin Nicholls
WARNING! Possible spoilers ahead!
This week’s second consecutive post featuring style from Kingsman: The Secret Service celebrates the 85th birthday of Sir Michael Caine, CBE, the iconic star who established himself in fashionable ’60s fare like Alfie, The Italian Job, and The Ipcress File. In the latter film, a grounded response to the spectacle-laden James Bond franchise, Caine’s bespectacled spy Harry Palmer would provide a template for the distinctive look to be adopted by the agents of Kingsman five decades hence. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Mary Ann, brutal “meat mobster”
Kansas City, summer 1972
Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
Today, March 10, is officially National Ranch Dressing Day. What could possibly be the relevance to menswear, you ask? Well, I managed to find a connection for National Potato Day so let’s use today’s observance to explore and celebrate that oft-tragic American phenomenon, the ranch suit.
Lee Marvin as Charlie Strom, professional mob hitman
Los Angeles, Fall 1963
Film: The Killers
Release Date: July 7, 1964
Director: Don Siegel
Costume Designer: Helen Colvig
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy first day of March! The observance of St. Patrick’s Day this month means plenty of focus on the “luck o’ the Irish”, so today’s post explores a suit sporting the “clover lapel”, a soft type of notch lapel named for its semblance to two leaves of a clover plant.
One character who took advantage of this unique but subtle type of lapel was Charlie Strom, the paid assassin who subverts “movie hitman” tropes by letting his curiosity get the better of him… why did Johnny North give up so easily? Bothered by this incongruity, Charlie and his partner Lee (Clu Gulager) set out to find the truth. Continue reading
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Jean-François Jardie, dashing French pilot and resistance operative
France, Winter 1942
Film: Army of Shadows
(French title: L’armée des ombres)
Release Date: September 12, 1969
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Costume Designer: Colette Baudot
Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 French Resistance epic, released at a volatile time for France and the world at large, was barely seen by the rest of the world until decades later. Army of Shadows officially debuted in the United States in 2006 and quickly shot to the top of many critics’ “best of the year” lists.
Gene Hackman as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, gruff NYPD narcotics detective
New York City, December 1970
Film: The French Connection
Release Date: October 9, 1971
Director: William Friedkin
Costume Designer: Joseph Fretwell III
Happy birthday to Gene Hackman, born this day in 1930! This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced last week, so today’s post explores the birthday boy’s first Oscar-winning performance as NYPD narc “Popeye” Doyle in The French Connection.
Eddie Egan was a real detective with the NYPD who, with his partner Sonny Grosso, was instrumental in a 1961 investigation that dissolved a massive heroin ring. The case would form the basis of a 1969 non-fiction book by Robin Moore that was swiftly adapted into the fictionalized film The French Connection. Gene Hackman, who by now had two Oscar nominations to his credit, was tapped for the role of “Popeye” Doyle, the profane detective modeled after Egan, while Egan himself would serve as technical advisor and play the smaller role of Walt Simonson, Doyle’s supervisor. Continue reading
Frank Sinatra as Tony Rome, private investigator and compulsive gambler
Miami Beach, Spring 1967
Film: Tony Rome
Release Date: November 10, 1967
Director: Gordon Douglas
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Over on my Instagram feed, I like to commemorate #SinatraSaturday each weekend, but today I felt Ol’ Blue Eyes deserved a dedicated post. Frank Sinatra starred as the titular character in Tony Rome, a 1967 adaptation of Marvin H. Albert’s novel Miami Mayhem. Tony Rome was Sinatra’s first cop role, playing a laidback private eye in the tradition of Humphrey Bogart who seems more interested in gambling, drinking, and skirt-chasing than actually solving a case. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Nicolò “Nickie” Ferrante, playboy socialite
Onboard the SS Constitution in the North Atlantic, December 1956
Film: An Affair to Remember
Release Date: July 2, 1957
Director: Leo McCarey
Executive Wardrobe Designer: Charles Le Maire
Happy birthday to Cary Grant, the charming maverick who personifies the intersection of style and screen during the golden age of both. The erstwhile Archie Leach defined men’s style for the better part of the 20th century and his timeless sartorial sensibilities live on through his charismatic performances on screen and, most specifically, via the advice he outlined for This Week magazine (and reprinted in GQ) in the 1960s.
Simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste.
– Cary Grant on style, 1962
One of Cary Grant’s most stylish, romantic, and iconic roles was artistic playboy Nickie Ferrante in An Affair to Remember. Continue reading