As I write this text, my ears are not entirely with me. They are currently being whisked away by one of my all-time favourite songs from one of my all-time favourite artists, namely Bryan Ferry. The song is Avalon, from back when Ferry was still the lead singer of Roxy Music. If I was attempting to write down all of the things for which I admire Bryan Ferry in just this one article, it would be like trying to compress Moby Dick into The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Thankfully, I am allowed to focus on his style and its characteristic mix of British charm and unabashed coolness.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon a fantastic documentary about Ferry from German broadcast arte entitled Don’t Stop the Music recently. Not for the first time, I was instantly drawn in by Ferry’s inimitable sense of style. But just what makes it so special? How does he manage to hold your attention, without ever seeming to have asked for it? Couldn’t we all just dress like Bryan Ferry? These are the questions that I am confronted with when I see Ferry command his audience in black leather trousers and a white shirt or leaning casually against a fireplace in a grey double-breasted suit (presumably in a tropical wool) with his hair falling just so.
Upon closer inspection, the formula isn’t as complicated as it might first seem. Ferry is a master in the art of the Stilbruch, the break in style, the intentional incongruity in an otherwise harmonious look. He has a very clear formal understanding of what he is wearing at all times. And from that position of harmony, he balances out the look (whether overly casual or overly formal) with a seemingly throw-away detail or gesture. Sometimes, it’s a strictly coiffed hairstyle or a denim shirt with a white flannel suit or simply just his decision to put his hands in his pockets. He knows just how people would like him to dress but doesn’t quite want to conform to that idea. He adds that Bryan Ferry touch to whatever he’s wearing. Hence his clothing never looks like a costume but rather always serves to underline his character or express a certain emotion. It is, to put it simply, purely authentic!
If you still need more evidence, look no further than Ferry’s lilac or neon-green single-breasted mohair suits. What will the neighbours say?! Of course, they do draw attention. However, Ferry is so conservative with the rest of the look that no one could accuse him of affectation. In fact, what he demonstrates more than anything else is a timeless sense of the spirit of the times.
Now, for the most interesting part: How would we dress Mr Bryan Ferry? Given his propensity for stylistic experimentation, it should be a fun experience. We would likely move away from his softer drapier suits to focus more on our traditional house style which is reminiscent of the suits Ferry wore in the 1970s. The key would be in playing with textures. The black mohair trousers would be wide-legged with a high rise and pleats, while the jacket would be a 2X1 double-breasted jacket in a subtly silver wool-silk-linen blend. The lapels would be characteristically wide and full-bellied. A pair of pink OTC socks and black horse-bit loafers would give the look an added sense of cool. To finish off the look, a white voile shirt, a black knit tie, and brushed back hair. The night is young, the look is monochrome, the air is smoky and light. In the background, all that you can hear is Slave to Love. MM/DC