Now Showing at Jack Spade

Jack Spade is the store that's most like what you'd want your living room to be. It's got nice, comfily-fucked-up modernist furniture, good books, cool art, kooky collectibles, and crazy shit happening. It certainly did the other night, when I went down to 56 Greene Street for the opening of its motorcycle helmet show. Andy Spade runs the Jack store kind of like a gallery (and a library and a crash pad). There are three sort-of shows going on there concurrently. The motorcycle helmet one is a collection of vintage sixties motorcycle helmets, many metal-flake, all evocative of the Easy Rider-Wild Angels-Born Losers era of incipient compulsory-safety measures.


I had a drink or two before I heard the story, but apparently these helmets have something to do with a famous motorcycle tournament involving hot dogs. The idea was that bike riders, together with old ladies, competed in a hot-dog-biting competition. Each team had to ride by, and the old lady on the back, who was allowed to support herself by standing on the pegs or on the driver of the m.c., would take a bite of a stationary hot dog as they drove by. The winner was the mama who took the biggest bite out of the dog while underway.

The second exhibition is a collection of nine hats formerly owned by Marlon Brando. This collection was owned by Ricky Clifton, the interior design artist and famous bohemian personality, until it was sold to Jack Spade. Apparently the hats are available to the public. Warning: Marlon had a big head.


Thirdly, there's a fantastic show of drawings-on-blackboard by design maven and modernism connoisseur/retailer Steven Sclaroff. The concept is radical stores for children, such as Lane Bryant Baby ("Lane Bryant" is what my grandma called the fat-lady store), Agent Provocateur Enfant, and more. Hilarious.


There was a nice opening for the motorcycle helmet show, even better than a conventional gallery opening because of the small, freshly-grilled burgers and the wine and beer choices. And there was a crowd of distinguished bohemians on hand. For example (below, left to right), Shawn Mortensen, whose extraordinary new book of photographs, Out of Mind, was just released by Harry Abrams; Rachel Williams, a reformed supermodel soon to receive a masters degree in landscape architecture from Columbia University; and Jim Walrod, the notorious interior designer and raconteur:


Mr. Mortensen, just returned from Ethiopia, was wearing a Russian Army tank commander's helmet with his Ethiopian silver jewelry and the boiled-wool valenki boots he discovered on this very "web log."

Here's the globe-trotting photographer again, with decorator-to-the-artists Ricky Clifton wearing a polka-dot railroad engineer cap which was never owned by Marlon Brando.


The Dandiest Shades

For those of you who don't read every magazine, Lapo Elkann is a young man (in lots of mags lately) who is often referred to as "the Fiat heir." Lapo was a golden child, born with a titanium spoon in his mouth, and he had a great career going with that famous company—with projects like reviving the Fiat 500 (in the manner of the Mini and Beetle) and creating cool Fiat brand merch—when he was interrupted by a severe attack of partying, and wound up in rehab mode.

Well, Lapo's back, and we ain't seen nothing yet. The man has big plans, and I have no doubt that he will realize them in a groovy and spectacular manner. The guy is brimming with energy and ideas and he projects a splendid vibe.

It is often pointed out that Lapo inherited some great clothes from his famously suave and sartorially splendid grandfather Gianni Agnelli, but that's not why Lapo is on the ballot for the International Best Dressed List. He's on there because he is very much like his grandfather in his sense of style, and probably in some other excellent ways as well. There aren't too many guys you can talk about tailoring with. I can talk about it with Lapo and our mutual pal Wayne Maser. Lapo is the guy who got Wayne to switch from Anderson & Sheppard of Savile Row to Caraceni of Rome. Now he's working on me.

I was up at Lapo's penthouse on the DMZ between Chinatown and Little Italy the other day, and he showed me a white suit with navy stripes from Caraceni with fantastic details. The button holes were very subtle, almost invisibly sewn with thread in the colors of the Italian flag. It sounds a little twee, but it totally worked, as did the belt in the back of the trousers. I'm ready for a visit to Caraceni myself. I'm thinking about Irish buttonholes. Substitute orange for red.

Anyway, I don't want to talk about Lapo's new company Italia Independent too soon, but my friend Andy Spade and I did get a preview of their new line of carbon fiber sunglasses. They are excellent. Like the rest of the products Lapo has planned these will be offered, with customization, through the Internet. I think Lapo really understands how boring the same old must-have "it" items have become, and that intelligent people want things that reflect their own personality and style and not the glory of some company with a ritzy logo. His amazing shades are just the tip of an iceberg of cool, conceptual products that will eventually roll out of the company. Check out their website. If you have a webcam, you can actually see yourself wearing the product.

Here's Andy Spade, CEO of Jack Spade, wearing eyewear from Italia Independent.


And yours truly:


Lapo is only 28, but I think he shows the potential to become a dandy for our age. He personifies what a dandy can be. A dandy in the true sense, like Beau Brummell or Oscar Wilde or John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, is a philosopher who uses style to express himself, to bring about political and social change. A dandy is not a fop, but an artist of living. Stay tuned to Italia Independent.

Follow Me to the Finals


After Georgetown's amazing come-from-behind, overtime blowout of the University of North Carolina in the "Elite Eight," which left me hoarse and giddy, I had to pull the old Hoya Nike Terminators out of the closet. I'm wearing them until Saturday, when Coach John Thompson III and his stalwart squad will take on Ohio State in the semis. The winner will face the winner of Florida vs. UCLA.

GQ podcast listeners may recall that at the beginning of the basketball season, GQ Style Czar Adam Rapoport asked the Style Guy who he liked in the NBA finals. As a former Knicks fan and ex-season-ticketholder of 19 years who no longer watches NBA basketball, I replied that I liked North Carolina, UCLA, Ohio State, and Georgetown. Somehow in the heat of the moment I forgot Florida. Anyway, this is the most excited I've been for a final four since 1985, when Georgetown and Villanova squared off in the final, with St. John's and Memphis State rounding out the four.

As a prejudiced fan—though one of knowledge and critical faculties—I like my great alma mater Georgetown to take it all; just like the informed Senator Bill Bradley does, who no doubt loves seeing those great, speedy, and sometimes enormous athletes playing that disciplined Pete Carril Princeton offense and scoring all those back-door points. This squad, with the artistic All-American forward Jeff Green; the balletic, 86-inch pivot Roy Hibbert; the canny sophomore guard Jessie Sapp; the icewater-veined 3-point shooter Jonathan Wallace; the freshman phenom forward DaJuan Summers, who scored a season high 20 on U.N,C.; and defensive stopper Patrick Ewing Jr., this squad is as exciting as those of Coach Thompson's dad, which boasted the likes of Patrick Ewing Sr., Reggie Williams, David Wingate, Michael Graham, Bill Martin, and Michael Jackson.

Fellows, this is as close as the Style Guy comes to face painting.

And I have this to say to my friend, the painter James Rizzi. Florida better watch out. The Hoyas are going all the way. We can be friends again next Tuesday.

This is a Tarheel's eye view of me, headed for the Final Four!

New Kicks


I'm not a sneaker person. It's an aesthetic issue. For years I wore almost nothing but New Balance running shoes—not that I ran, unless I was being chased or was trying to get a taxi, but I was a serious walker, happy to stroll from midtown to Noho if I had the time, and, being a Pisces, I'm very concerned with foot comfort. I wore these shoes with everything, including suits.

But as the years passed the sneaker category became generally uglier and more grotesque, a situation not helped by the basketball-shoe craze with its suspension systems, hydraulics, and science-fiction design sense. The nadir of the shoe, for me, was the Jerry Seinfeld-epitomized adoption of the ugly sneaker as diurnal footwear.

I rebelled, and it's only in recent years that I've worn sneaks. I have a pair of plain white canvas Jack Purcells and a few pairs of Vans, which I love because they're comfortable and they're the price sneakers should be, as opposed to the NBA-hyped monstrosities that think they're John Lobbs. My favorite Vans are actually made with a fabric designed by George Nelson in the fifties.

But then last week I saw another pair of gym shoes I had to have at Nom de Guerre, the wonderful underground (literally) men's fashion boutique at Bleecker and Broadway. They are smart navy Jack Purcells with white polka dots. They also have red eyelets on the top, which seems to mean that some of the profits are being donated to some worthy cause. Fine. But they are handsome, inside and out, and to me the Jack Purcell is a shoe that is eternal. It's like a Barcelona table or an Eames chair. And that flat tacky sole gives you traction.

I love the fact that the real Jack Purcell (1903-1991) was a world champion badminton player. He retired undefeated in 1945 at the age of 42. I love badminton and can't wait to play in these shoes. It's spring, and I've got a spring in my step.

Would I Wear This?


How would you describe how you dress? I think I'd have to say that I dress in a classical bohemian manner, but I guess you could also describe my style as baroque preppy or aberrant traditional. I enjoy getting dressed every day. I dress for my mood. But sometimes you just feel like changing, and you shave or cut your hair, or you go out and buy something new. The great thing about clothes is their ability to transform us.

Last night I was watching Turner Classic Movies… William Powell in one of his Philo Vance films… basically he's playing himself, or Nick Charles, the Thin Man, as a bachelor… and I was admiring his style. Then I caught a very strange The Shadow, with Alec Baldwin playing Lamont Cranston, aka The Shadow, the noir hero of the 1930s radio drama of the same name. Alec does some pretty flamboyant costume turns in this weird film, and it started giving me ideas.

What if I suddenly changed my style? What if I suddenly started wearing nothing but John Galliano? I mean, I am not into fashion victim clothes. I don't like things that will look like last season next season. Most forward design leaves me cold; but to me John Galliano transcends the idea of fashion victim and takes extravagance into the territory of genius.

I have long considered the swashbuckling, amusing Mr. Galliano an extraordinary genius when it comes to women's clothes, and I invite you to visit to see the fantastic voyage he put on for Christian Dior, but now I am a convert to his berserk vision of maleness.


The savvy, measured Tim Blanks wrote of Galliano's fall collection: "…confronted by fashion tribalism this savage, the only sensible option was to suspend all critical faculties and savor the ride." And what a ride! Ninja punk shamans, Chinese operatic road warriors, cubist camouflage stormtroopers, Rauschenberg cargo cult witch doctors, leather pirates, intergalactic headhunters…it was a mardi gras for the imagination, a true tour de force extravaganza that made you think differently about what clothes are. Galliano connects with the magic. He approaches garments the way a naked savage from the Amazon might approach Maxfield or Barneys. He puts things together in a way that is entirely dramatic and original. There are so many ideas here—including Rick Moranis's Dark Helmet from Mel Brooks's Spaceballs—that you don't know where to begin.



I want these clothes because I want to walk down the street and amaze people. My only fear is that once I got some I wouldn't be able to go back. I wonder if Galliano would give me a full scholarship. Would I wear this? You bet I would! Well, maybe not the nylon stocking on my head with the smeared lipstick, but I'm ready for the codpiece and the Attila the Hun pants right now. Bravo!

If all men dressed like this there would be no war in Iraq. (Maybe just some ritual rumbling in the neighborhood.)

Dressed for Action

I'm an urban automobilist. I have a really nice car, a Mercedes E500 station wagon with all-wheel drive, and I love it. It's got a power rear door, satellite radio, sun roof, all the goodies. It might look bourgeois and suburban, but trust me, it will blow away most sports cars I encounter on the parkways. If necessary. Having a car in the city is tough. No matter how careful you are, you get dinged. I park in an alley space behind my building, and every few months I find some strange tattoo on my car, a scar from life in the asphalt jungle.

The only cure is having a great body shop and I think I found the best when I ran into the guys from Parkway Collision. They do great work, they are gentlemen, their prices are competitive, they pick up your car, and they do so in a sporting manner. The way they do it: by bicycle.


My man Brian is a fitness freak, and he doesn't do spinning classes. He picks up fine cars with problems on his racing bike, collapses the bike, puts it in the cargo space, and away he goes. And he's no fair-weather cat. He observes the same foul-weather imperatives as the U.S.Postal Service, more or less. And if you're interested in two-wheeling, you'll see what the climate-appropriate bike gear is when Brian shows up.

Anyway, if you ever need a dent fixed or a wreck appraised, call my boys at Parkway, or e-mail

Alternative Film Criticism

This morning, as I was running off to Pilates, I put on my sweats and reached for a T-shirt, and this is what I grabbed. It was made by Gerard Basquiat, the father of my old pal Jean-Michel Basquiat, the painter, musician, and adventurer.

When Julian Schnabel made that film Basquiat—which I called "a pre-emptive strike on art history," in that it depicted Schnabel, played by the thin and distinguished looking Gary Oldman, as a mentor to Basquiat, a state of affairs I would classify as entirely fictional—Gerard's droll response was to manufacture this shirt. The artwork was taken from a series of plates designed by Jean-Michel in 1983-84. They were owned by Andy Warhol and were the subject of a small book published by the Bischofberger Gallery. The series also includes Grandma Moses, Leroy Neiman, and Cimabue.


My next film project, after my Edie Sedgwick vampire movie Factory Ghoul, and the shoemaking comedy/drama I Shod Andy Warhol, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is Schnabel. I'm hoping to get Steven Seagal to take the title role, with Christian Bale as Gary Oldman and Vincent Gallo as Basquiat.

The Streets of Paris, and a River

They say it's good luck when you step in dog shit on the streets of Paris. I say it's good luck if you don't fall down, and it stays on the sole. But that's about the only drawback of strolling in the City of Lights. Paris was made for walking, and that's a good thing, since the taxi situation is so exasperating. You can't hail one—you have to go to a taxi stand, and the French are only slightly better than the Italians at forming a queue.

The Mrs. and I walked almost everywhere, enjoying the nice weather, the beautiful sky, the decoratively egoistic people. A lot of Americans have problems with the French ego, that attitude that's so on the surface. I don't. The night after consuming much wine at the oenophile's birthday reported on earlier, I dragged myself out of bed and to lunch at Fouquet's restaurant. It's a delightful place, with excellent food. Opened in 1901, it has sort of a spiffier, gourmet Sardi's vibe, as it has been a movie trade hangout since the days of Charlie Chaplin. The walls are covered with photographs of stars and directors, from Jean Cocteau to Catherine Deneuve.

I think I was the only guy in the place not wearing a tie. Most of the men were talking business and drinking serious bottles of wine. I needed to end my hangover, so I asked the waiter, "Avez vous Coca Cola?" He replied, "Yes, but it is no good."

It was snotty, but of course he was right.

"I need one," I said. He didn't even roll his eyes. The Coke appeared a few minutes later, and then there was excellent foie gras, smoked salmon, and Dover sole. A nice half bottle of Sancerre and the hangover was gone. But that kind of snottiness has something approaching charm. It says "our culture is strong."


I'm fascinated by Fouqet's, particularly because it is now part of a hotel called Fouquet's Barrière, and that hotel is responsible for one of the best pieces of architecture I've seen in a long time. I didn't know what it was, but I saw a building around the corner that simply knocked me out. It looked like a concrete casting of a typical Hausmann-era, nineteenth-century Paris building with contemporary windows poked into it. Which is exactly what it is. The Fouquet's hotel is one solid block, and where there was no charming building they simply installed one on the rue Bauchart and rue Vernet sides.

Created by the extraordinary "ecological architect" Edouard Francois, to me this building is the answer to all of the problems posed by contemporary architecture. It is about how yesterday and today can meet successfully. I love how the exterior mimics its neighbors in a modern texture while the windows are poked in almost randomly, responding to the hidden structure of the interiors.


I also love how the windows mirror the beautiful Parisian sky against a background of concrete.


I'm always fantasizing about where I would live in Paris. Later we strolled along the Seine on Avenue de New York. I thought that might be a fitting address, and there are some lovely buildings there near the Palais de Tokyo, which houses a great collection of contemporary art and a fun restaurant. And then I got an idea. I saw the Popeye anchored there against the quai. I wonder how much a boat like that would cost.


A Paris Model's Diary

I'm famous in Paris now, thanks to Purple Fashion, the coolest fashion magazine on the planet, putting twelve pages of moi, as fashion model, in the new issue. Last season it was Vinnie Gallo, this season it's me. (I didn't get the cover, like Vincent, but at least I got to wear men's clothes!) It's a great issue, with sexy pictures of Stella Tennant, pieces on William Eggleston and David Lynch, and amazing photos by Terry Richardson of Jared Leto in his underpants which demonstrate the amazing amount of fat he gained to play John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman, and the amazing amount of fat he lost to become Jared Leto again. Anyway, fame is fun. Every fashion show I went to I was interviewed for TV. When I walked into the Martin Margiela men's store a guy came up and thanked me for TV Party.

My first night in Paris I attended the 50th birthday party of the legendary Michel Zumpf. He is an artist and filmmaker (Le Géographe Manuel, 1994) and a fantastic character. He looks like Woody Allen and talks like Salvador Dali. For the last several years Zumpf has been working on a film about winemaking in France, and to celebrate his half-century he pulled out a succession of amazing bottles. When he brought out a jeroboam of Chateau LaTour 1990, I felt even more famous.

Here's a famous French newspaper writer opening the box the LaTour came in, by any means necessary.


And here's the effect the wine had on Zumpf.


The next night it was my turn to celebrate a birthday, which I did with numerous friends at a lovely, tiny Italian organic restaurant named Cibus, near the Palais Royale. Oliver Zahm, the editor of Purple Fashion, selected the place, and I couldn't have been happier. Especially when I tasted their Barolo, and when the chef came out with a truffle the size of a softball that he'd been storing in the Carnaroli rice especially for this occasion.

Among the brilliant, glamorous, and famous ducking out to smoke were Jean-Baptiste Mondino, the great photographer and director, Fabien Baron, the great art director, and Gina Nanni O'Brien, the great wife.


The great conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, the great Mondino's evil twin, the great Glenn O'Brien, and the great illustrator and director Jean-Paul Goude.


Also in attendance were the great illustrator Jean-Philippe Delhomme (who illustrates GQ's Style Guy column); the great creative director Ronnie Newhouse and her husband, the great publisher and martial artist Jonathan Newhouse; the great painter Donald Sultan; the great tailor John Pearse and his great-beauty wife Florence; the great record company (Ze) founder and environmental energy mogul Michael Zilkha and his great wife Nina; and others almost too great and fabulous to mention. And, of course, the great publisher of Purple, fashion model, and contender for the title of the Serge Gainsbourg of the 21st Century, Oliver Zahm.

It's almost a relief to be back in New York where I am not followed around by TV camera crews. Almost. But I think I'd rather be in Paris.

From Paris

Sometimes I find Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" going through my head (the Johnny Hartman-John Coltrane version). Particularly that line, "a week in Paris could ease the bite of it…" And so this year, to ease the bite of aging, I decided to spend my birthday, and a few more days, in Paris. Almost a week. It turned out to be fashion week so that made it a little extra crazy—crowded hotels and booked restaurants and it was even harder to get a taxi than usual as the witching hour approached. One night we hiked all the way from the Palais Royal to L'Etoile in the rain, as a taxi was "impossible" (imagine the French pronunciation.)

Still, it was a fantastic time. Paris was in the fifties, Fahrenheit-wise, and although the flowers weren't out yet, the models were, and lots of other beautiful people, making this most beautiful city very lively indeed. I can't think of anywhere on earth where the sport of people watching is more fun. Everyone seems stylish (or at least people of all ages and from all walks of life), and you see lots of beauties of both genders, often in the act of kissing. For a reason that science may eventually be able to explain, much of this outdoor osculation occurs by the Seine. So I was glad to be in Paris with my wife (pictured here).


I'm usually there on business, solo, and the kissing can be tough to watch. Anyway, I found that many of the most interesting style cases I observed were what we tend to call senior citizens. I loved it. A lifetime of experience and shopping should make style something that gets better and better, but we don't observe a lot of that kind of progression this side of the Atlantic. On Sunday I saw a man whom I assumed to be in his late eighties sitting in a café wearing a gray flannel blazer, a shirt with a silver torso and a tartan collar, and a black tie with a large red abstract shape on it. He looked as bohemian and rarefied as Ezra Pound. He was so spectacular and dignified that I didn't have the nerve to ask if I could take his picture. Besides, I was deliberately not working.

I did have a bit of what they call a busman's holiday, however, taking in a few fashion shows. I went to the Yves Saint Laurent show on top of Le Centre Pompidou, aka the Beaubourg, and that was about as good an entertainment as one can find in this city. It had beauty, inspiring design, and, being that it was the second show of the new YSL designer, who had the difficult task of following Tom Ford and the great maestro, there was lots of drama, too. And it was a triumph, as the show brought back much of what made YSL great in the first place, but with a totally contemporary spirit. No retro, no ghosts, just pure Parisian chic. It was utterly classical, but with a sort of futuristic optimism.


The other show that moved me was that of Antonio Berardi—another Italian who shows in Paris and reflects its zeitgeist more than that of Milan. Unlike most designers today—except the master of sexy, Azzedine Alaïa, whose influence was felt here—Berardi's designs flatter the curvy body and are always suggestive, but never vulgar. Check out this number.


The seams are sewed in such away that bare flesh shows through in all the right places. A wine writer would probably put it this way: notes of Giacometti, Bridget Riley, Ridley Scott, and George Lucas. The most ambitious clothes had elaborately cut layers with notes of Mayan architecture and intergalactic storm troopers. There were high levels of both fashion and show in this fashion show, but the ultimate test is, would you want the girl on your arm to wear this? And the answer was basically, yeah, yeah, yeah…

I went backstage afterwards to congratulate Antonio, whom I've spent a little time with in New York, and I was most amused to see this sign at the spot where the models stepped from backstage to the runway. It's the kind of thing that designers and show producers tell the models and often put down in black and white. Or in this case, black and red.



I think I might put a sign like this inside the door of my apartment so I always hit the street in stride.

More from Paris tomorrow.