It’s not really a question of one man but anyone you want to be. It is not about a specific age, not about a race, or a nationality. It is not about body, but about spirit. His allure is that brilliant, enduring spirit born in the sartorial Golden Age of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. A time with the rigors of Victorian dress were tested by sport, weathered by battle, challenged by technology, then stripped to the bare essentials: suit, shirt, sweater, trousers and jacket, refined and relaxed, all the makings of modern classics.
It was simplicity at its finest, and also provided men with a wardrobe appealing to the opposite sex. What better example is there than a relationship of Hugh Grosvenor and Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, the storied romance of a man born a duke and a woman raised an orphan that began at Bourdon House - the now London Home of Alfred Dunhill - in 1925. Talk about opposites attracting, but who better that a Frenchwoman of legendary style to recognise the masculine mystique as being just as powerful and elusive as her own.
Separate but equally elegant, this brand of masculinity was personified and immortalized by the greatest literary figures of the 20th century, from E.M. Forester to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway to Evelyn Waugh, and Henry Green to Graham Greene. Demonstrating the guiding principle of bespoke, to know thy self, these authors defined an era when men dressed not for showmanship, but for ownership.
After all, what’s more seductive than the confidence of a man who is truly comfortable in his own skin? And what season is that more evident than in summertime, when the sunshine and light layers reveal his body in motion or at repose. Whatever the setting, green lawn, clay court, sandy beach or lake pier, he wears tennis whites and black tie with the same sense of purpose and ease. Yet, in his attention to time-honoured details, he brings new life to the old standards. Be that the subtle fold of a shawl collar or the shoulder seams of a dinner jacket tailored with precision.
Given that there is a time and place for everything, he also appreciates when less is more - and always uses it to his advantage. See him standing by the window, dressed down in a fitted white shirt and twill trousers, the very definition of ‘back to basics’. On one hand, he appears completely unassuming, and on the other, with his sleeves so thoughtfully rolled, he clearly understands the provocation of a bare forearm and naked wrist. Spirited, indeed. And now, here once more, a woman must ask, Who is he?, despite knowing that question can only be answered by the man himself.
Story by Courtney Eldridge.