With the current awards season coming to a close after the Oscars, I am reminded how much film and movie stars have had an influence across menswear. If today, to grab attention beyond a screen performance, an actor’s personal style is often heavily guided by professional stylists, the personal style of a few actors, prior to the era of stylist-controlled red carpets, has always inspired me and my work in menswear. Today movie stars seem to try a little too hard for me in attempt to create their style, but the following actors I have always considered naturally stylish and my own personal stand out icons, that I consider the all-time go-to for timeless menswear style.
Cary Grant always cut a tall, slender figure when on the screen from his early appearances and into the later part of his career. His work with Hitchcock in To Catch a Thief with Grace Kelly is a particularly good moment for Mr. Grant’s timeless style. His mid-grey cut suits worn with plain black accessories, were at the time were very modern, and you can see the influence on many other films and television series such as Mad Men. The starched white shirt framed and lit his chiseled chin perfectly, which matched his always-groomed dark hair creating the perfect cinematography for his good looks.
Mr. Fred Astaire had an innate style that came from his natural elegance of movements not only when he danced carelessly across the screen but also for acting scenes in front of the camera. Often seen in top hats and tails tap dancing across the stage, I personally loved his more nonchalant style in a tweed sportscoats and flannels. He could tilt a hat and carry off a boutonniere unlike any other for me and I have always studied his style as a reference to menswear.
Mr. Paul Newman has always been known for his striking eyes and moody screen presence. I have always found him great inspiration for casual style from his early films such as HUD or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof he could portray more gritty characters in such a believable way and knew the importance of his costumes and how they enhanced his on-screen character. He had a big influence in fashion of the time wearing denim and western style shirts. Off-screen, he was an avid racer of cars which added to his bad boy allure and, ultimately, his iconic movie star status. Whether he wore a plaid shirt with a pair of worn jeans or a beautifully cut sportscoat, he could dominate the screen in a way that few have been able to match.
Marcello Mastroianni was Italy’s favorite leading man and appeared in many European films of the period. He helped define the contemporary Latin lover and consequently contemporary menswear. His black suit and knitted tie worn with thick-rimmed spectacles or sunglasses are still an influence to designers such as Tom Ford and Prada. Mastroianni often played alongside Sophia Loren or famously with Anita Ekberg in the Fellini classic La Dolce Vita. He wore trench coats and structured sartorial menswear by Brioni bringing the roman tailor to notoriety around the world.
Alan Delon, the French film star, was lesser known stateside, but in Europe, his success came from an early age from the 1950s through the 1970s. He could wear an open-neck shirt unlike any other, and his shirtless figure was often used to promote films he starred in. He is seen as a French national treasure, and his roles in Visconti movies or alongside Romy Schneider and Bridget Bardot cemented him as style royalty among fashion followers. When I think of the French Riviera or the Cannes Film Festival, I picture Alan Delon hanging out in an outdoor cafe sipping Pastis and lighting an ever-present Gitanes as the symbol of smoldering summer style.
There are many more movie stars, that I admire and watch for styling guidance across the ages of cinema, but I owe these gentlemen a large debt of gratitude for helping me understand men’s style and influencing my work across my career.