Saturday, 23 July 2011

Style Icon - Don Draper

My published editorial -

 Never before has TSK featured a Icon who well, simply isn’t for want of a better word, real. Dynamic and mysterious, yes, but fictitious? No.

Every now and then a character so inspiring because of his wit and whole misdemeanour as well as a devilishly sharp and polished style has to make it though the sartorial net – who better to do so that the maddest of all Mad Men, Don Draper. To coincide with the launch of the BBC’s The Hour, which aired last night and is a spin off of the successful US franchise, we thought it only the done and proper thing to salute a masculine style icon who has epitomised an era in time and captivated audiences so successfully.

Those of you who don’t know (the rest of us will try to forgive you – but it’s really your own ignorant fault) Don Draper is the lead protagonist in  the American TV drama based in early 1960’s Manhattan in a top dog-eat-dog Madison Avenue Ad Agency. The show itself is flawless and captures the 60’s in all it’s political, social and visual glory. Blatant sexism, homophobia and racism go hand in hand with post war optimism, hedonism and an overwhelmingly sexually charged environment where the new and old orders collide. Mix with heavy drinking night and day, endless smoking and a wardrobe to die for and you have a sartorial recipe for success.


At the centre of it all played by the handsome, dishevelled and puppy like Jon Hamm is Donald Draper who in contrast is a constantly internally conflicted but outwardly confident (even arrogant) brooding, smouldering man. On the surface Draper is devastatingly attractive with deep sparkling eyes, a gravely rich voice, confrontational stare and an impeccable sharp suit proving the embodiment of the strong, silent type. His chauvinistic manner and disregard for human frailty combining with a manipulative animalistic urge to get what he wants is matched with an irresistible charismatic charming, over powering sexual magnetism and fear of his own shadow.

The real power of the Hamm/Draper colab is that combined, they have made all men fall in love with the suit again. A neglected wardrobe essential for the discerning man who takes his attire seriously the suit has become a focal point for men to show off the physique, personal style and appreciation of fine tailoring and design classics. When we look at Draper though, we don’t just want to look like him, but we pine for the past that he emulates. A past that for most of us has only been attainable though vintage advertising or family photos and news reels.

Draper evokes a time were men dressed like men and were proud of it. From a tailored suit (grey, single breasted with that classic streamlined 60’s cut- very Ivy League), freshly starched shirt and impeccably polished shoes to the additional, but essential personal nuances; a pocket square, knitted tie, tie clips and a desk draw packed with fresh shirts in case you’re faced with an all-nighter, waking up in the loving arm of a women who’s not your wife.

That’s another reason we love Draper – he’s a cad and a complete womanising scoundrel. Despite this, women love him. Because he’s fictional Draper can get away with things most men wouldn’t dream of and because of this, men love him too. He’s every man’s alter-ego, the fantasy us we could never be but hope our Grandfather’s were. Women want him and we want to be him.

In this case fiction proves too irresistible to refuse – particularly when he’s sipping a strong drink, looking seamless and brutish in a moody bar.

By Sam Outing