early-adopters-of-cool

Early adopters of cool
Loving this shot Sean Connery. Looking a bit frozen of face in his twilight years, if you get us, but forever the quintessential gentlemen. With the Bond franchise in mind, the only actor to come remotely close to out-Bonding to the charming Scot (‘remotely’ being the operative word) has been Daniel Craig. Pierce Brosnan? Please. 

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Early adopters of cool
Jeff Bridges has always been a true gent at heart. Yes, his portrayal as ‘The Dude’ in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski was pretty close to the mark as far as Bridges’ real-life overtly laid-back persona’s concerned. But back in the day, though – and you’ll forgive him for the occasional ill-fitting Eighties suit – the now 62-year-old was one very stylish, dapper chap. Beautifully shot, too. 

Early adopters of cool
Stirling Moss. Now, normally, we wouldn’t regurgitate anything from Wikipedia verbatim, given that, while a great fact-finding starting point, you should always take some of the ‘factual’ information with a grain of salt - a given, really.

That said, we’d be extremely disappointed if this quote from the iconic British motoring great - who, for the record, raced pretty much every classic sports car that mattered - weren’t true:

“For me the fact that I had danger on my shoulder made it much more exciting. It’s rather like if you flirt with a girl, it’s more exciting than paying for a prostitute, because while you know you’re gonna get it, the other one you don’t. And I think with driving a motor car, the danger is a very necessary ingredient. Like if you’re cooking, you need salt. You can cook without salt, but it doesn’t have the flavour. It’s the same with motor racing without danger, for me.”

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Early adopters of cool
The late James Hunt. Possibly the quintessential Seventies race car-faring playboy and likely the man to have sparked the global women’s liberation movement. Wasn’t quite the archetypal gentlemen, but a worthy early adopter of cool all the same. Albeit with some rather questionable values when it came to the notion of women and relationships. Recklessly cool, you might say. 

To be fair, the former world F1 champ wasn’t exactly known for his chivalrous charm. More his brazen alcohol, drug abuse and shagging 30-odd British Airways stewardesses in the fortnight leading up to his title-winning victory over Niki Lauda in Tokyo in 1976. Add to that his renown for having bedded more than 5,000 women during his 45 years. If believed, a figure that makes Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, Lemmy Kilmister and the like look genuinely pansy. To quote Stirling Moss: ‘If you looked like James Hunt, what would you have done?’

Hunt’s quote to friend Richard Burton, who kindly 'bought’ his then wife, ex-model Suzy Miller, sums up the racing legend, really: “Relax, Richard. You’ve done me a wonderful turn by taking on the most alarming expense account in the country.’ Different times, admittedly. But something that, today, would have woman around the world rioting in the streets. And in rightfully so, some might argue. 

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Early adopters of cool
Sean Connery. A given, yes, with the dapper Scot the proprietor of more charm than a Mayfair jeweller. And fitting (pardon the pun) given this year marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise. 

What’s interesting, though, is Connery’s influence on any discerning gent’s suit-ish persuasion, past and present. Thanks largely to London bespoke tailor Anthony Sinclair, the chaps charged with giving 007 his tailored-fabric swagger. And the brainchild of the Conduit Cut (Conduit Street, Mayfair, being Sinclair’s original home). That all Connery’s appearances as the charming British agent were in Sinclair suits speaks for itself, really. Suffice to say we’re fans. 

(Additional photo credit: Harry Myers / Rex Features.)

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Early adopters of cool
Few have since done raffish cool quite like the Rat Pack proper. So much so that you could argue it was the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. (to name but a few) who were the true ‘original adopters of cool’. More cool than permafrost, basically. That they set the template for charm and swagger goes without saying.

Individually, you had possibly the most talented entertainers of the generation. Together, though, it was their comraderie, class and style that forever etched them into popular culture. One could also argue they inadvertently handed Steve McQueen and Sean Connery the mantle. Both going on to become single-handed renegades of chivalrous cool in their own right, as you know.

Different times, we know, but all said chaps had the ultimate freedom in what was, without doubt, the 20th Century’s coming of age. Call it Sunday-induced, wishing-we-lived-in-another-time nostalgia, perhaps.

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Early adopters of cool
Robert De Niro. Forgetting his Meet The Parents-type roles of the last decade for a moment, the now 68-year-old would have to be one of the actors of his generation, bar Al Pacino. Pretty amazing career, when you think about it. And one of the handful of actors over the past 30 years to truly command your attention, on screen.

Easy to understand, too, why he was such a lynchpin for Martin Scorsese’s finest works and the perennial mob aficionado. Best film? Where to start. His early performances in, say, Taxi Driver and Means Streets go without saying, really. For us, though, it’d be between Goodfellas and Heat. The latter being one of director Michael Mann’s quintessential films and ‘vintage’ De Niro.

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Early adopters of cool
Martin Greenfield: NYC male fashion aficionados’ and Boardwalk Empire’s go-to guy, well, tailor, actually, for fetching suits.

The 82-year-old’s client list (past and present) reads like an A-list who’s who: Paul Newman, back in the day, Bill Clinton after he was first inaugurated (not the humble suit’s finest era, coming off the back of Eighties, mind) and, hey, he even managed to make the dentally challenged Steve Buscemi look particularly dapper in Boardwalk (love the bloke, and one of our favourite actors, but, seriously, and let’s be honest, he isn’t exactly the handsomest of chaps). Given his age, you’ll forgive Greenfield’s creative direction (or lack of) regarding his website.

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Early adopters of cool
Steve McQueen looking like a pimping used-luxury-car salesman. Albeit a rather cool, impeccably dressed one. Would highly recommend checking out the aptly named Frédéric Brun’s Steve McQueen: A Need For Speed sometime - worth the stretch, in our opinion. It’s definitely one of the more comprehensive McQueen photo collections you’re likely to come across.

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Early adopters of cool
Enzo Ferrari. Last week saw the opening of the Enzo Ferrari Birthplace Museum in Maranelli, Italy, which you’ll find perched between Milan and Bologna. A proper tribute to the marque’s legendary founder and namesake, the complex takes in the house the man considerd Italy’s ‘Pope of the north’ was born in and adds a Jan Kaplicky-conceived space that’s built around the late designer’s original workshop and which, rather fittingly, sports a decidedly large Modena-like, bonnet-shaped yellow roof. Cool, we know.

What’s cool, though, is that the museum isn’t solely dedicated to simply showcasing Ferraris. In fact, the opening exhibition, which will run for the next two-and-a-bit months, features a heady mix of the Ferraris, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos the late Enzo raced in and built, pre 1947. Come June, the next one looks quite cool, too, paying homage to Ferrari’s fierce local rivalry with Maserati, also based in Ferrari headquarters’ home town, Modena.

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