Over the past year or so there’s been a lot of chatter within the ever-introspective menswear community as to whether or not tumblr has made blogging or worse, and while I for one adhere to the principle that some people on tumblr do it right, and most people do it horribly wrong, there is one man who does it unbelievably well. While we’ve all been busy debating the merits of the microblogging platform, Milstil a self described “Dutch, classic menswear dilettante” has created a full-blown empire of single-source menswear tumblrs that could make any diehard wordpress fan (myself included) blush.
While all of Milstil’s blogs are worth checking out from his main site of “no look books, no brand or shop reviews, no WIWT, no pitti, just trite old shit I like,” to his Ralph Lipschitz and Gianni Agnelli blogs which are, you guessed it nothing but photos of Ralph Lauren, and Agnelli respectively. But my personal favorite in the Milstil repertoire is “Italian Industrialists and Intellectuals.” The side-scrolling site is packed with photo after photo of well-dressed Italian businessmen, with the occasional politician tossed in there for there measure. They’re all wearing the country’s familiar threads, typically some variation on soft-shouldered sportcoats, blue and white striped spread collar shirts, cashmere sweaters, and washed denim. What I find so appealing about the site is that it highlights guy’s who dress well daily, they aren’t playing dress up for Pitti Uomo, they’re just getting up in the morning and throwing on their normal outfits. Which just so happen to be nicer than what about ninety-nine percent of the world wears on the daily.
All these photos of Italian Industrialists did leave me with one question, what is the U.S. equivalent of an Italian industrialist? I’m not naive, American businessmen aren’t exactly the epitome of style these days and we aren’t going to have any traditional CEO’s with sprezzatura coursing through their veins, but what we do have is that hint of eccentricity that pushes an outfit from middling to memorable, and that trait lies in our nation’s men of the written word. There’s the old stalwarts, the Tom Wolfe’s and the Dominick Dunne’s, but if I had to pick a contemporary American Editor counterpart to Luca Cordero’s Italian Industrialists style I’d have to single out Graydon Carter.
And yes, I do realize Carter was born in Canada, but as the editor of Vanity Fair, a quintessential American publication that certainly doesn’t need my words as an introduction, I think we can forgive him that much. And yes, I do also realize that Carter with his Willy Wonka haircut, isn’t exactly the conventional icon, but who needs convention these days, especially when foppish figures like Carter are a dying breed in American society. With the publishing world losing more and more of it’s legends with each passing issue, Carter remains a fixture of both journalism and of this city. Between editing Vanity Fair for over two decades and co-owning the Waverly Inn in the West Village and the venerable Monkey Bar in Midtown, (one of my favorite restaurants despite what a certain curmudgeon says,) I like to think of Carter as the natural progression down from Conde Montrose Nast. An editor with as much (if not more) personality as the characters that his magazine profiles.
We’re not Italy, we don’t have chairmen in Neapolitan suits presiding over boardrooms, but what we do have is writers and publishers that echo that same sense of commanding cool over the written record. And so, Carter’s style is expectedly more informal than these Italian Industrialists, favoring a common uniform that includes the signature soft shouldered jackets of Anderson & Sheppard (a company he’s so enamored by that he published a book on them a year ago), shirts from English brand Hilditch & Key, odd trousers or jeans, topping it all off with shoes from Edward Green or Crockett & Jones. It’s a look that could be compared to the style of Vanity Fair itself – sophisticated, familiar, and a touch careless.