Kevin Davies

Kevin Davies

Photographer and subject have a distinct relationship that is based on the sharing of ideas in mutual exploration of that which does not yet exist until the two come together to bring forth the work, the image that holds the wall or rests, nestled inside the book. The photograph is the space where two become one and what we see is the way in which they create something the world has never seen before.

“Every hat I have ever made has begun in my mind as a photograph. I can see it on the model, at the right angle, before I even begin. I can see what the girl’s going to look like and how it’s going to be worn. But it’s something that’s just for me,” writes celebrated milliner Philip Treacy at the introduction to Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies (Phaidon), an intimate and breathtaking retrospective of Mr. Treacy and Mt. Davies’ two decade-long partnership.

Mr. Treacy continues, “Photography, like design, is an obsession: an obsession with the final image. And most photographers, like most designers, are control freaks, because they care so much that it all looks incredible in the end. We believe in it. Whether you’re a make-up artist, stylist, designer, architect, photographer or anyone working in the creative industries, your work is a point of view. It’s your point of view.”

Mr. Treacy’s hats recall nothing so much as a time long gone, a time when men and women dressed head-to-toe before stepping out of the house. Hats are the last hurrah of a bygone era, a time when attention to detail was as important as expression of self. Mr. Treacy’s hats remind us that glamour is a state of mind, for to carry off one of his superb chapeaus one must have presence, power, and fearlessness.

Kevin Davies’ photographs of the hats themselves are a spectacle of the simplest effect. Set upon a faceless mannequin head, set against a white backdrop, there is nothing to see except the hats themselves. Photography is a comfortable reminder that this is likely as close as we shall ever get, but this closeness will set your heart aflame. That the hats can be worn seems almost too grand. To simply gaze upon their eloquent and effortless form would be enough.

Mr. Davies speaks with THE CHIC about his partnership with Philip Treacy as it developed throughout the years. Read the full story at THE CHIC.

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If you weren’t surprised by your life you wouldn’t be alive.
Life is surprise.

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In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents.
Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen.

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Happiness is a byproduct of function, purpose, and conflict;
those who seek happiness for itself seek victory without war.

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There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.

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Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.

~*~
Photographs by Sean Kinney
Quotes by William S. Burroughs

Ernst Haeckel illustration from Art Forms of Nature, 1904

Ernst Haeckel illustration from Art Forms of Nature, 1904

Claude Monet, The Boat Studio on the Seine, 1875

Claude Monet, The Boat Studio on the Seine, 1875

I am not afraid of storms,
for I am learning to sail my ship.

~ Aeschylus

( the secret to it )

July 4, 2014

Edward Hopper: Second Story Sunlight

Edward Hopper: Second Story Sunlight

Believe in fate, but lean forward where fate can see you.
~Quentin Crisp

Photograph: Kelty, E.J., Hunt's 3 Ring Circus 1921

Photograph: Kelty, E.J., Hunt’s 3 Ring Circus 1921

W.M. Hunt is renovating his Upper Westside apartment. We stroll through the rooms, perusing the collection of art that exists in two dimensions and in three. Everything appears to be as he describes a photography collection to be: “I like pictures that are incredibly orderly and incredibly chaotic.” This effect is echoed in the renovations going on outside a humble room filled with gens. Flat photographs laid out, stacked, rolled, stored, safe and secure. The photographs represent Mr. Hunt’s two collections: Blind Pirate and Dancing Bear.

From these collections, primarily the former, an exhibition will reveal itself, an exhibition like no other that opens Monday, July 7 at the Rencontres D’Arles in the South of France. Mr. Hunt returns to his old stomping grounds with “Foule: Hunt’s Three Ring Circus” which will run through September 21, 2014. “Foule” features more than 250 works dated from the late 19 century through 1950, in large banquet or panorama style, several of which are more than two meters in length.

Mr. Hunt reveals, “I collected pictures in which you cannot see the person’s eyes. That first collection began forty years ago at an auction. It was a portrait of a veiled woman. It went for $325. I went and bought another one in a gallery. When it was pure instinct, I never made a mistake. Knowledge became the great stumbling block.”

“It took awhile in my own collecting to have the confidence in my own ‘eye’ to be image driven as opposed to being caught up in the reputation of the artist.  A long time ago, I taught some classes about collecting. People seemed to burden themselves with knowledge. You ought to have some connoisseurship to collect but the best thing to bring to it is nerve.  A little knowledge goes far.  Educated decisions are not as instructive. The hardest thing is to get back to reacting to what’s immediate, to walk in and be present and have it hit you. Everyone is going to insist everything is great—but it ain’t. If you see a couple of really good photographs a year, celebrate that.  Dance around with it. Whatever the neurosis is about collecting, I worked my way through it. The picture that makes you fart lightning… Who knew your nipples could see?”

Indeed. Not we, that is, until Mr. Hunt sat down with us to speak about photography. Read the full interview at THE CLICK.

Nick Knight: Flora

July 2, 2014

LILIACEAE Gloriosa verschuurii

LILIACEAE
Gloriosa verschuurii

PASSIFLORACEAE Passiflora alato-caerulea

PASSIFLORACEAE
Passiflora alato-caerulea

Passion is a flower, a strange and exotic thing, an energy that burns deep within and underneath and through it all, the candle that lights the dark, the darkness forevermore vanquished, vanished, or at least it seems to be, for once we can see, we believe we know.

The photograph does this, reminds us time and again. The more passionate the photograph the more we return to it. And so it is that a specimen arrived the other day, between two long slips of hardboard were pages sewn together at the spine, and between these two large slips of board the pages turned. Long white layers upon which a flower appeared, not just any flower but dozens I had never seen until I laid my eyes upon Flora by Nick Knight (Schirmer/Mosel).

Flora is a garden of earthly delights, an archive of pressed flowers, each photographed like a portrait. Each plant is from the herbarium of the Natural History Museum in London, a collection which contains more than six million plants from all corners of the world. The book, first published in 1997. is being reissued on the occasion of the publisher’s 40 anniversary. And rightfully so, for Flora is a treasure trove, a magical portal, a veritable repository of soul.

In the book’s preface Mr. Knight observes, “I was struck by the fact that these plants didn’t look dead. Life was very apparent. I could see the movement of the wind blowing through their leaves ad petals. Sense the water flowing through their vessels and their flowers straining to turn and open into the suns’ rays. But these plants had one important difference—the fragility, the tragic urgency that had gone and they had taken on a new certainty of being; a statement like boldness. They have escaped their fate.

“There are few things that make me happier than discovering a new way of seeing the familiar. Seeing in a way I could not have imagined. It is a very liberating seeing and one that makes me feel very optimistic.”

Indeed, for a photographer, the act of seeing is the act itself. To be able to see anew, again and again, to take it all in, to set it down, on paper slipped between boards, to edit from a collection of hundreds until the final 46 came forth. Forty-fix flora taken at full size, collected in this bouquet unlike any other. To see is to believe is to know that we need to feed our eyes to serve the soul. We consume, effortlessly, endlessly in all that exists, but to charge one’s self with looking—that is the next level. Mr. Knight knows life, and now he knows death. The flora here are eternal, preserved forever more as we peruse the pages of Flora.

SCHIZAEACEAE Lygodium palmatum

SCHIZAEACEAE
Lygodium palmatum

Knight_Flora_2014_Cover_full

Valentina Ilardi Martin, portrait courtesy of Citizen Couture

Valentina Ilardi Martin, portrait courtesy of Citizen Couture

Valentina Ilardi Martin is the Editor in Chief of GREY Magazine, a sumptuous compendium of fashion photography, fiction and poetry that has been published in a hardcover periodical every spring and every fall since 2009 featuring photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki, William Eggleston, Nan Goldin, Sarah Moon, Martin Parr, Robert Polidori, and Ellen von Unwerth among many more.

The photograph comes first for Ms. Ilardi Martin, whose native Roman passion for the grandeur of everyday beauty belies each story produced in the book. She is nothing if not a womanist by nature, honoring the power and influence of the female mind, body, and heart.

GREY maintains a structural integrity to the construction of the photographs, collaborating in the creation of a shared reality that integrates the clothing into the photograph as though it were not so much a matter of fashion as it were the architecture of the life of the body. How we sheath and clothe, hide and seek, play dress up, how we dress to express, to impress, to pretend, to reveal who we see ourselves as.

Ms. Ilardi Martin recalls, “When I was young, I was illustrating, then I decided to become a painter. My parents were both more structured people; they woke up every morning at 7 a.m. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be an artist because I thought they could do whatever they want, whenever they want.

“Then I moved forward. (Laughs). I followed my parents’ advice and went to business school. Then I had a really big accident with a motorbike. I was in a coma for two days. When I came out of it, I said to my father, ‘I’m leaving business school and I am going to art school instead.’ They said yes.”

“I have always had a visual life. I feed myself with my eyes. When I am in places where I cannot feed my eyes, I feel really sick. I would not be able to work in an office which does not have a view,” Ms. Ilardi Martin mentions as the breeze wafts through the window of her ninth-floor home.

Read the Full Story at THE CHIC.

Michael Cambetes

Michael Cambetes

Poetry isn’t as much an art as it is an act. It is a way of being, a way of seeing, a way of feeling life. It is respiration. Breath drawn in, words expelled. Words that float through the mind and burst upon the lips, fingertips, the pen to paper or the stroke to key, and with each and every moment, the rhythm hits me, then you, then we. Poetry, it is it’s own means, but there is no end, but rather a flow along which we go, should we wish to share the experience.

Daria Ann-Martineau publishes her poem, “Mine” at Narrative today. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Martineau recently received her MFA in Poetry from New York University. We met at a reading, where she looked resplendent in a wispy peach shift, something like a Bellini, crisp and sparkling. She takes a moment today to chat about the place of poetry in her life…

Miss Rosen: It is evident from the moment anyone lays eyes upon you that you are meant to be a muse as well as a poet alike. Your energy is deliciously elegant while also cutting edge. Please speak about the early period, when you discovered the word and the way in which it could be used as a pillow—or a sword.

Daria-Ann Martineau: First of all, thank you for that incredible compliment. It is a lot to live up to. I do not know that there was a specific moment of discovery for me. The way poetry found me was more gradual and cumulative—almost like a poem: there are lots of tiny details (teachers, books, performances) that build to this bigger idea.

I grew up with two lawyers for parents and I think complex, nuanced language was almost revered in my house. My mother collects dictionaries. I think I inherited a craving from her for the depth and meaning of language. I wrote a lot of bad “secret diary” kind of poems growing up. Nothing serious but I started taking Creative Writing at university and by my senior year, I was ready to dedicate my life.

As for the pillow/ sword thing: I think the night I saw Patricia Smith perform “Skinhead” on television was a moment I saw what crazy things a poem could do. I was about ten when that happened. I didn’t understand the moment’s gravity until much later.

How do poems arrive ? I ask as I have heard verse. Like one time I was making the bed and a voice was like, “Stop. Now write this down.” It doesn’t always happen like that, but when I am in the flow it is as if I can hear words being said. And when I read certain people’s verse, I feel that same intuitive rhythm. Do poems come to you ? Do you go to them ? Do you meet in the park by the big oak ? Or over a cone of ice cream ?

Some poems come quite naturally. Some I chase them and hunt them down. I think my most successful poems usually start off with a perceived connection between two seemingly disparate things. This idea, this association of them sits in my brain like a seed, often for months or years, before I finally get a poem from it. The poem “Mine” started when I saw the word “canary” one day and I thought about it as a colour and a bird: how to link its purpose in either context. I had just one line for months and months and that never even made it into the poem. Then one day, I sat down and wrote it in minutes.

What is the experience for you of reading your poems aloud ? How important is it to liberate them from the page ?

I hadn’t thought about it with my poems too much. Yusef Komunyakaa says the ear is the best editor and of course I will read a line over to make sure it “sounds right.” I think, though, when I read my whole poems aloud they sound more or less as I have predicted they would. There are exceptions of course, like the time I burst into tears while sharing a piece I’d written without much thought.

I love the communal feeling of sharing my work and listening to others share theirs. It’s quite thrilling. I think I get more from hearing other people’s work. When I read a Komunyakaa poem for example, I can see and feel the music without ever opening my mouth. He’s so known for that. But when I read it out loud I hear it even more and when he reads his poems out loud, it’s almost quaking. This year I’ve also been lucky enough to perform with Pop-Up-Poets, memorizing and performing famous poems. It’s this great, expansive, bodily experience. The best way for me to understand the depth of a poem is to memorize it. Recite it like a prayer.

Read “Mine” at Narrative Magazine

Alger - Jardin d’Essai

Alger – Jardin d’Essai

Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.
~Charles Franklin Kettering.

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Photo by Marcia Wilson/Widevision Photography

When I began my career as a book publicist, Calvin Reid was the first journalist I met in person. His warmth and wit, his disarming charm, and his knowledge of the book publishing industry cannot be underestimated. As Senior News Editor of Publishers Weekly, the premier trade publication, Mr. Reid has been at the forefront of the major changes in book publishing for the past thirty years.

More than a reporter, Mr. Reid is a businessman. He understands the nature of the medium to the point that he has been a central figure in the rise and success of graphic novels as a genre of publishing. But more than that Mr. Reid is an artist himself, which came as a wonderful surprise to me as we spoke at length for The Click.

Mr. Reid observes, “I always loved books as a kid. As a job, it was a pure accident. They used to call book publishing, ‘The Accidental Profession.’ A lot of people entered the profession from very disparate fields. Often they started in business, and couldn’t bear it any longer. They made career turns and lucked into publishing. I came about it the same way.

“My background is as an artist. I have a BFA in Art Education with a minor in Photography from Howard University, and an MFA in Printmaking from the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. I came to New York to be an artist. I arrived June 7, 1981. I continued to produce etchings and lithographs as well as drawings after I moved to New York and I have exhibited widely in New York and in shows around the country. Moving to New York and meeting and marrying my wife were the two best decisions of my life. My plan was to find a way to work and to do the artist thing. I got a job as a temp; I was a “Kelly Girl” (laughs). I worked for Kelly Services in different places including Matthew Bender, which is a legal publisher. Later I switched jobs and became a typist at Library Journal, which eventually led to me becoming a journalist.”

Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.

Guzman: Black Rose

June 26, 2014

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Transition is always a relief. Destination means death to me.
If I could figure out a way to remain forever in transition,
in the disconnected and unfamiliar, I could remain in a state of perpetual freedom.

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Sometimes I come to hate people because they can’t see where I am.
I’ve gone empty, completely empty and all they see is the visual form:
my arms and legs, my face, my height and posture, the sounds that come from my throat.
But I’m fucking empty. The person I was just one year ago no longer exists,
drifts spinning slowly into the ether somewhere way back there.

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I lean back and tilt my head so all I see are the clouds in the sky.
I’m looking back inside my head with my eyes wide open.
I still don’t know where I’m going; I decided I’m not crazy or alien.
It’s just that I’m more like one of those kids they find in remote jungles or forests.
A wolf child. And they’ve dragged me into this fucking schizo-culture,
snarling and spitting and walking around on curled knuckles.

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Darkness has completely descended onto the landscape and I stood up
and stretched my arms above my head and I wondered what it would be like
if it were a perfect world. Only god knows. And he is dead.

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Bottom line, each and every gesture carries  a reverberation that is meaningful in its diversity;  bottom line, we have to find our own forms of gesture and communication. You can never depend on the mass media to reflect us or our needs or our states of mind; bottom line, with enough gestures we can deafen the satellites and lift the curtains surrounding the control room.

Photographs by Guzman
Quotes by David Wojnarowicz

PUNK: An Aesthetic

June 25, 2014

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Do It Yourself. The ethos of the punk movement that began in the 1970s with a kind of we-ain’t-got-no-money joie de vivre. Style is using what you have at your disposal and putting it to work; being crafty, creative, criminal if need be. Turning everything on end to what end? Perhaps just notoriety. But is that such a bad thing? Asking questions, turning heads, upsetting applecarts—in many ways the punk aesthetic forever altered our assumptions about progress by taking back the means of production and giving it to the artist themselves. Whether music, fashion, graphic design, photography, typology, illustration—so many categories revitalized by the outpouring of art students in our brave new world.

Punk: An Aesthetic, edited by Johan Kugelberg and Jon Savage (Rizzoli International Publications) is a beautifully produced collection showcasing the development of a visual language that has become a lexicon of street style that has been standardized by youth culture around the globe. Here, Kugelberg and Savage present some of the most famous and infamous examples of the punk aesthetic. It is all here: the record covers, posters, newspapers & magazines, flyers, t-shirts, comic strips, collages, and all sorts of ephemera of the era, including a manuscript page from The Great Rock & Roll Swindle screenplay (1977). Here, page after page features photographs of all sorts: concerts, promos, portraits, and snapshots, energies filled with casual glamour and teen angst, a theatrical display of sight and sound that, when it first appeared, shocked polite society.

As Kugelberg writes in the book’s introduction, “Punk, like hip hop, in an odd way was about performance—about Saturday night, getting loaded, elegant swagger, and the unfiltered nihilism of romance.…. The legacy of punk is simple: the immediate implementation of D.I.Y. grassroots culture among the young. No distance. Form a band, start a blog, become an artist, a DJ, a guitar player, and editor. There is no meaning stemming from authenticity: an authentic experience occurs, regardless of whether or not the art produced id authentic.”

The photographs featured in Punk: An Aesthetic reveal an exciting dialogue between design, type, and imagery that is one of the hallmarks of the movement’s style. Among the most notorious images is Jamie Reid’s Sex Pistols poster for God Save the Queen: here Queen Elizabeth II’s face is covered by text and set against the Union Jack, at once exalting her, defacing her, and questioning our assumptions about the monarchy. In this image we see the royal portrait subverted in the service of a greater purpose and here punk shows its true colors. Punk: An Aesthetic reminds us that creativity is heightened when economy is bad because we must look inside ourselves in order to speak truth to power about the times in which we live.

In Jamie Reid’s “Death Culture Stalks the Suburbs” we see the style at its height, appropriating the 1950s happy home and turning it on its head, literally, with a skull at the center of the sunken living room, where a coffee table should be. And the couple speaks to each other, in comic book bubbles, with words written on a typewriter in capital letters, and then at the bottom, a summary of the story of Nigel and Cecilia and the skull, which had first appeared as, “a blurred image on the thick pile carpet, but as the weeks progressed it materialized and solidified behind the crushed velvet pouffe.”

Heavenly creatures, each of these pieces turns out to be, each with its own story and style, taking on the here and now, the supernatural, the unnatural, the years of past, present, and future. Punk is the liberation of imagination, the independence from becoming a market acquisition, by becoming the object itself and thus it must be experienced—rather than consumed, as a capitalist market would demand.

Here, as with the performance of music, experience of dance, and the appearance of style and fashion, we give of our time and energies to be part of the scene, to connect with the people and the art being produced in the most intimate of manners. Punk breaks down the barrier between audience and art, and encourages the audience to participate so that everywhere we turn, everyone and everything becomes a part of the greater whole. Punk is art in its purest sense; it is about taking what you already have and fashioning it into an expression of self.

First Published 19 October 2012
LE JOURNAL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE

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The poet's hand by Ralph Gibson, 2005

The poet’s hand by Ralph Gibson, 2005

Max Blagg arrives, apologizing for being but a few minutes late, his British accent quite debonair. He steps into the salon, sitting on the sofa, allowing Glitterati mascot Alfrieda the basset hound to snuggle on up, as he recounts the adventures of an Englishman in New York.

“I was the youngest of twelve children. We lived in a small town in the English Midlands. We were working class. There was lots of love. It was a great family. But I was the only one with the inclination to read books.

“I started writing at 15, a gift that was triggered by my sister dying of breast cancer, a slow motion event that happened at home. It was truly awful. Writing poems about her pain seemed to give me some relief. At the same time, I was becoming interested in girls. A bizarre collision of sex and death. Looking back, I wrote a lot of pretty bad poetry back then. But I also played soccer for the school team. I had a double life.

“In my house, higher learning was not encouraged. It was that working class mentality: Don’t expect to rise above your station. At 17 I passed the A level exams and qualified for college. My mother had no intention of letting me go away, but I secretly applied and got into a college in London with a very generous government grant. The poorer your parents were, the more money you got. That would never happen today.

“I wasn’t that comfortable in London, it’s under the sign of Capricorn. But after almost getting a B.A. degree I met a lovely girl at a jumble sale who gave me lots of American poetry to read. I was so entranced by Frank O’Hara that I quit my job as a bricklayer’s laborer and bought a one-way ticket to NYC. I had one address, 118 Spring Street. I want to put a little plaque on that building. I showed up there, and Ignacio and Caroline, kind folks I hardly knew, put me up for months. We’re still close friends. Soho back then was deserted, a playground for artists. I got a job in construction on 53 Street, Street, across from MOMA where Frank O’Hara had worked. New York, miraculous place. Instantly felt like home.”

Read about Mr. Blagg’s life as an Englishman in New York at THE CHIC.

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Janette Beckman and I meet Dapper Dan in his brownstone in Harlem on a sunny day in April. We are in the sitting room; the wood is dark, the ceilings are tall, the art is African. On a bench laid before us is a child’s suit in red and white leather, boasting the name ERIKA. Beside it, red and gold cap is perched, with the double FF logo of the great Italian fashion house Fendi prominently displayed. The cap is an inverted trapezoid, in the style made famous by 80s emcee Just-Ice. The gold F shines bright, catching my eye over and over again, until Dapper Dan enters the room and commands my full attention. Dap wears a long sleeve shirt, vest, and slacks with spats all in shades of cream and brown; against a skin of rich mahogany, Dap carries the look effortlessly, befitting a man of his stature and renown.

For those in the know, Dapper Dan is a name of distinction. It stands for quality and style. It stands for a way of living that is equal parts art and business. It is the name that defined the sartorial style of uptown in the 1980s. Dapper Dan is Harlem, from his cap to his spats to the way he stands straight. Dapper Dan is the man who Africanized Europe’s luxury brands. Gucci. MCM. Louis Vuitton. These were the logos and insignias he silkscreened on skins in the studio above his shop, which was open 24/7 on 125 Street for ten years.

After printing the skins himself, Dapper Dan employed a team of Senegalese to create custom apparel for the body, as well as for the car. A haberdasher to the stars of Harlem World, everyone from the streets came calling, whether hustlers, gangsters, Hip Hop artists, athletes, or simply those with an eye for the flyest, freshest, most cutting-edge styles. Dapper Dan’s work was worn by everyone from Mike Tyson, Run-DMC, and Bobby Brown to LL Cool J, Salt N’ Pepa, and Eric B. & Rakim. Paid in Full, indeed, ‘cause Dap gave no discounts whatsoever on the merchandise.

Dapper Dan’s pieces were as original as his techniques. His most famous piece, a parka known as the Alpo Coat, was made for Alberto Martinez, one of the most famous drug dealers of the era. It featured double pockets in the front, all the better to hide or dispose of something, like a gun. Violent crime in New York was skyrocketing, with the murder rate hitting an all-time high in 1991. Crack was the nexus between money and murder in those days, and as a result, some customers had special needs. Kevlar lining was added to the lining of coats at a client’s request.

As Fat Joe recalled in The New Yorker, “I remember going to a club in Manhattan and walking in with my Dapper Dan suit, the red-and-white Gucci, with my jewelry. They were looking at me, like, ‘Who is this? He gotta be somebody.’ And I wasn’t famous—I was just a nigga with a Dapper Dan suit. And that suit made me famous.”

Mark Twain memorably said, “Clothes make the man,” and if there was one man who defined the styles of the times, that man was Dapper Dan. I asked Dap about how Twain’s words made him feel, to which he replied with great heart, “Yo! That’s my thing. You hit it right on the head now! To make people. They knew that. To create something that’s going to make you. You see it every day in Hollywood. They looking for that thing that’s going to make them. You see that Busta Rhymes come here, and Puff Daddy come here, and they say, “I want that 80s look!’ They are looking for that sensation, that crack. They are looking for that crack. I want to give them that crack and they feel like, ‘Whoa, I am here.” Like that Cadillac.”….

The full story appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Jocks & Nerds.

Kenton Nelson, Saving Grace

Kenton Nelson, Saving Grace

Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it?
I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.

~Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

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