In the second of our posts from our talented Fashion Writing Series Finalists, we asked Simon Goncalves for his take on ‘Menswear and its Icons’
Simon says that “Writing has always been my preferred form of self-expression. I had always considered a career in creative writing to be somewhat unrealistic for a man of a working-class background and so pushed my desires aside for a while. This year, however, while endeavoring to explain my dissatisfaction with the appointment of Hedi Slimane as Creative Director at Saint Laurent to my colleagues at the local city council, I decided to start a blog”.
An icon is something or someone regarded as a representative or symbol. A style icon, then, is someone who encapsulated an era or period of time simply by their choice of clothing and grooming. Because of that, what we label a style icon is ever changing. Ask a fashionisto peacock waiting outside a show wearing a shearling jacket and steel framed sunglasses and he might profess his style icon to be a motorcycle-mounted Steve McQueen, riding down the 101 with the only care on his mind that of affixing a countenance that expresses carelessness and pensiveness simultaneously. Then, go to the streets of New York and approach a faded-Levi’s wearing normcore scenester to enquire of their fashion icon and they might nonchalantly mutter “Jerry Seinfeld”. Who are we to argue otherwise? Yes, if what we term ‘stylish’ is the descriptor of a distinctive appearance that is specific to a certain time period and/or context, then style icons are symbols or representatives that are just as ever-changing or progressive as time itself.
There has been a change of late, though, as to whom we choose for fashion inspiration and veneration. No longer are we limited to a selection of musicians, actors or athletes who possess an office of celebrity. Sure, David Bowie was the New Romantic Glam idol of the 80s, Kurt Cobain the teen Grunge-god of the 90s, David Beckham the dapper soccer star of the noughties, but now the camera lens has panned; its focus is on a different collective. Photographers like Tommy Ton, The Sartorialist and Yvan the Facehunter have shown that the amateurs are now the muses – not only for fashion followers and consumers, but even for fashion designers themselves. From the fashion fair and runway show frequenters, to the scenester streetkids and models (not on the runway, but pre or post-show, when they’re off duty of course), our attention has turned to the non-celebrity for fashion arousal.
It is without further delay, then, that you are presented with only four of a plethora of well-dressed non-celebrity men that are regularly snapped for their exceptional ensembles and style.
Nick Wooster – with a crown of grey and a hairline so straight you could rule a page with it, this guy is sharper than the scissors his tailor uses to cut the fabric for his suits. Wooster manages to enjoy good fashion play without looking like a try-hard teen. His style is ageless and edgy. He’s one of the few who can go from a cropped Thom Browne suit to a drop-crotched Rick Owens getup in the blink of an eye and with the grace of a man who truly understands the mechanics of menswear.
Justin O’Shea – to ensure muscular hypertrophy of the upper body and atrophy of the lower body (specifically legs), O’Shea undoubtedly omits “Leg Day” in his gym regimen. This is to ensure he can still wear his super tailored suit pants but pull out his guns, if he so wishes. A noble cause? Hardly! But, where most attempt to appear effortless, O’Shea is the opposite. He puts great effort into tailoring, selection of fabrics and choice of colours. He is the definition of dapper, the personification of debonair and, because of this, a resident target of the street photographer’s focal point.
Benjamin Jarvis – With a shock of platinum blonde atop the wiriest of 6’2” frames, this 19 year old is no stranger to menswear. He has featured in campaigns for Topman, DKNY and Opening Ceremony and has walked for countless shows in all the major fashion weeks. Off the runway, his presence is equally sought after. Where most other off-duty models aim for ease, Jarvis aims for avant garde. That he can don an oversized bomber, window-pane check pants and Raf Simons sneakers shows that he’s constantly pushing the boundaries of casual wear and pulling it off.
Dominic Haydn Rawle – Hailing from Kent, England and being raised in beachy Manly on Sydney’s North Shore, Rawle’s style has the perfect balance of high-end style trends and surf-drenched rocker vibes, all of which oozes a chic, laid-back spirit that perhaps only Australia could breed in an English-born photographer. Constantly flanked by his Swiss lover, Ursina Gysi, Rawle’s outfits are diverse and dynamic. Whether in a traditional suit, luxe biker jacket or sheer short-sleeved shirt, he’s always hitting the sweet spot with his ensembles, keeping the audience interested and inspired.
As part of his prize, Simon will be mentored by veteran journalist Janice Breen Burns, editor of Voxfrock, the fashion and pop culture blogzine she founded in 2013. For 19 years she was a renowned columnist, features writer, news reporter and fashion editor for Melbourne’s The Age newspaper as it evolved from a traditional print, to multi-platform news source. For her deep industry knowledge and experience, she is frequently invited to comment for print, online, radio and television broadcasts on fashion related news.