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15. November 2020

Upstairs Downstairs. Or, how to wear jeans with Mr Fred Hughes


Maximilian Mogg

Andy Warhol.

I know that you know. Indulge me. Andy Warhol is one of the most famous artists of all time, one of the founders of the pop art movement, and an indisputable cultural icon.

Moreover, beyond his Marilyns Monroe, his tomato soup cans, and the song David Bowie dedicated to him, Warhol left us tailors one major thing to remember him by. That signature Warhol-Look: black loafers, white button-down shirt, club tie, single-breasted club blazer, and high-rise jeans. What a revolution it was at the time to combine the preppiest of the preppy and the most emblematic piece of the working class uniform. (Although, it should be noted that the twill structure of denim and Oxford cloth really do harmonise beautifully.) However, he is not the originator of this upstairs-downstairs dress sense. Good artists copy, while great artists steal.

All of this, ladies and gentlemen, to introduce you to one of my style idols: Mr Fred Hughes.

Born and raised in Texas, Hughes worked at Warhol’s infamous factory for over 25 years and was, so they say, an expert in all things art, clothing, and interior decoration. As his colleague Mr Vincent Fremont once put it:

Fred had taste and he could find beauty in a flea market or the best furniture stores. High to low.“

During my research for this article, I came across innumerable fantastic anecdotes about Fred. Unfortunately, most cannot be shared in polite society (I recommend that our more mischievous readers seek them out for themselves. Bob Colacello’s Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up is a perfect starting point.) and, besides, my primary focus today will be Fred’s fashion choices. Why focus on Fred, you ask? Well, allow me to quote Colacello on that:

“All the kids at the Factory, everyone who was younger than Fred wanted to dress like Fred”.

To get a sense of someone’s dress sense, it is always instructive to look at their inspirations. In Fred’s case, key figures are the Duke of Windsor, Umberto II of Italy, and the Hollywood legend Fred Astaire. And, indeed, he followed them to some of the world’s finest craftspeople. Anderson & Sheppard for suits, Turnbull & Asser for shirts, and John Lobb for shoes. I was also very happy to hear that he commissioned a couple of suits with Tommy Nutter in his day. Rumour has it that his love of tailoring went so far that he would have his Levi’s 501s re-tailored on Savile Row. The key feature to be added was a front crease, pressed just so.

Back in New York, Hughes would stroll into the factory wearing his freshly-pressed jeans with bespoke jackets and shirts. And so, a new look was born. For Warhol, it was love at first sight. He immediately began to copy it and the press soon dubbed it the ‘Warhol Look’. The rest is history.

If I may be brutally honest, dear reader, I truly detest the Warhol look on Warhol. However, Hughes’ original is fantastic. What makes it work is the simple fact that Hughes managed to maintain the English sense of proportion and elegance.

Now, for the good news. I have a secret to tell you, dear reader. Come closer (NOT TOO CLOSE. Or, at the very least, put on a mask.) and I’ll tell you. I’m telling you that jeans don’t only work with casual jackets like navy blazers or tweed jackets. I’m talking about matching a pair of beautifully-made, high-rise indigo jeans with a double-breasted dinner jacket, white dinner shirt, black tie, and opera pumps. I’m talking about matching your jeans with a mid-grey chalk stripe flannel jacket, white dress shirt, a black knit tie, and black Oxfords. It just has that certain Je ne sais quoi!

I see you hiding behind the sofa and I believe I heard at least one of you whimper: ‘I’ll leave that to the experts’. Well, dear reader, if you’ve made it this far, please do allow me to say that I trust our customers to make this look work. Inspired by Fred Hughes, just as we were when designing our jeans, they’re going to make their jeans work with tailoring. Together, we’re going to create a brand new Factory look. MM/DPFC