The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman

Sartorialist

I’ve been a fan of The Sartorialist blog for a long time.  So when a companion book was published collecting  some of the great photography from the site, I rushed out to buy it – literally was at the bookshop looking for it the day it was released.  Why am I a fan?  Because you won’t find a lot of super models in Scott Schuman’s book or on his blog.   The Sartorialist is less about fashion, more about style.

The photographs are of random (and some familiar) people he sees on the street – taken on the spot in a composition style that always reminded me of August Sander.   And it says a lot about his work that designers use Schuman’s street photos for inspiration – versus his doing photo shoots with models dressed head to toe in the latest look (though he does some of that too).

And now The Sartorialist, in book form,  gives you 512 pages of people looking fabulous without having to turn on your computer.

I could gush about Scott Schuman’s work for hours, but he explains what he’s doing better than I ever could:

I saw this gentleman on Fifth Avenue around 56th Street.  Instantly I could tell from the Italian cut and sophisticated colour and fabric of his jacket that he was special.  I stopped him and asked if I could take  his photo, and he looked at me suspiciously and replied, ‘Why do you want to take a picture of me? I am a bald fat man.’  Now, I am a very polite and positive person, so I started to reply that, ‘No, you are not …’; but then I caught myself and instead replied, ‘Yes, but you are a well-dressed bald, fat man.’

That caught him off guard.  I followed up my first response with, ‘So, is that southern Italian tailoring?’  It was, and I knew it was, and my recognition of that was what won him over.  A longtime friend of mine, David Allen, once told me that one of the basic needs of people is to be understood.  I think that the fact that I seemed to understand this man and what he was trying to communicate through his style is why he agreed to let me take his photo.

He goes on to talk about how he received an overwhelming response to the photos of this well dressed man after posting them.  Other men, with similar body types, were printing the photos off their computers and taking them to stores because they wanted style – but didn’t have a blueprint to follow.

Normally, I’d post some of my favorites here.  Instead, check out The Sartorialist and find your own.  Scott Schuman also has a monthly article in GQ Magazine, with more of the same.  My favorite, though, is still the blog.

It’s Monday! What am I reading? The J. Crew Catalog!

J. Crew Catalog

First, here’s the link back to J. Kaye’s meme.

Second, I’m obsessed with the J. Crew Catalog.  And what does that have to do with books?  I’m so glad you asked!

About my obsession…  It started a few months ago.  Not with the first family’s fashion sense, but when Domino Magazine (moment of silence) featured the home of J. Crew’s creative director.  There was something quirky and smart about it that drew me in.  When I saw Lauren Hutton featured in a style shoot I was completely hooked.

Then came the August issue and the two page spread shown above.  J. Crew had (obviously unknowingly, unintentionally & with no prior knowledge of this blog’s existence – can’t accuse me of grandiosity!) bought into why I started BookSexy.  Because I honestly believe (as cheesey as it sounds) that style is something internalized, not just about how you present yourself externally.  Style has to do with ideas and interests and genuine curiosity.  It’s about having something to add to a conversation.  Which is why it makes perfect sense to me that J. Crew featured an obscure Steinbeck novel in with their List of Necessities.  And that their new  Tribeca Men’s Shop sells vintage books like the one featured above along with standard merchandise.  (They also hold celebrity readings at the Soho Shop).

I like this new literary world where the President of the United States’ Summer reading list makes Letterman.

Do I wish they’d looked a little farther afield than Steinbeck?  Well, yes.  Personally I’d have liked to have seen a Michael Chabon novel or something from McSweeney’s.  Maybe even a graphic novel drawn by Dave McKean.  But this is a start.   Don’t forget that J. Crew is still a fashion company.

Even if it’s a fashion company that puts its clothes on Alex Katz.

For a different take, check out this post at wordcandy.net.  And if you have an opinion, I’m interested in hearing it.  Please leave a comment.