7 July 2011

Style Inspiration: Serpico

Serpico (1973)
(screencaps my own)

Al Pacino "Why did you do it?"
Frank Serpico "...if I didn't, who would I be when I listened to a piece of music?"

What with my hair being in that awkward in-between stage of growing out (and it probably will be for the next several months), and my beard still being in the early stages of bearddom (not actually a word, but it should be), a hat seems to be a rather desirable option at the moment.  I suppose it is a desire aimed to fulfil the psychological comfort of having my hair covered during times I deem it to be displayed in an unacceptable manner.  That being said, even when I had an army crop, the idea of a hat was still appealing, so it not just a reflexive desire to an increasing number of bad hair days.  And there lots.  Part of it is no doubt about being covered, and thus protected, whether it be from the elements or just in general.  However in truth it is an accessory I have had scant interaction with, and indeed although I am rather disappointed by the fact that gentlemen no longer sport proper (if any) hats as the norm, I have always found it hard finding suitable headwear for myself.   

At the moment the only hat I own is a black nylon bucket hat, inspired by a certain plum hat from Comme des Garçons that my brother was after.  I suppose once it gets to Autumn you are meant to invest in something rather more substantial.  But unfortunately most knit hats tend to fit far too snug for my liking, leaving curls puffing out on all sides, and thus creating an awkward silhouette.  I tried on a thick cableknit Margiela hat from the new collection, and yet in spite of the thicker gauge of the wool and slightly looser fit, it still resulted in that same odd silhouette.  On the other end of the scale, I tried on two knitted hats from Miyashita's label The Soloist, and both engulfed my head - and there it ought to be noted that I actually have a head circumference on the larger side.  Hats are one of those things you really have to try on in person, and preferably have someone with you to assess from all angles. 

I think I probably have two options as far as expanding my headwear collection is concerned (ok, so technically one hat does not constitute a collection, but it's a work in progress) - an oversize knit cap and a wide brim hat.  In terms of the knit cap, I am thinking a fine jersey that is loose enough to compliment the silhouette of curls falling out of the cap, such as those from Damir Doma's Silent line (their cottons are fantastic).  For a slightly less sporty feel I am liking the idea of a wide brim hat, preferably with a large floppy brim.  I could go for something slightly more structured such as one of the classic black hats from Ann Demeulemeester, or something softer, such as the perforated suede hats from Missoni's Fall collection.  I am actually rather tempted by the idea of going to a Jewish outfitters and buying one of the classic large brim Italian hats.  I suppose it is about trying things on and finding both a design I love, and a silhouette that works for my head, hair and look as a whole. 

When it comes to hats (and beards), I always find inspiration in watching Sidney Lumet's Serpico.  The costume designer Anna Hill Johnstone, who was also designer for the Godfather trilogy and The Stepford Wives, did an absolutely fantastic job in outfitting the lively and unique character of Frank Serpico.  Serpico was notorious for his style - standing out amongst the conservative dressers in the station, but blending in perfectly on the street.  Indeed even now, with the occasional public appearance, his style is interesting to see.  But of course Hollywood has a way of making the real ostensibly more real in our minds (yet being simultaneously thoroughly fabricated), and so when I think of Serpico, I think of the film and Al Pacino.  And damn did he look cool in that film. 



  1. I'm going to start saying "bearddom". I don't know how or when it will fit into conversation, but I will make it happen.

  2. I'm not familiar with the movie, but there definitely is a distinctive style to him.

  3. i always think my beard is going good until i see in on photos and then realise it doesn't exist really. hmm. i agree with hats though, i love "the wrong man" and watching that film always makes me want one of those hats

  4. This had to be Al's finest beard. My Mom used to have his "serpico" poster in her room. I've only seen it in old photos, but she carried that thing to college with her, too. & then she met a guy who had a pretty much hairy face and hair as wild as Serpico's. I'm thinking this character's look had a lot to do with who my Mom hooked up with now.

    Now..my brother who couldn't wait to have sideburns has a pretty much never ending beard. My Dad swears its the French in him that gave off such good hairy genes.

  5. I think we're on the same path to that jewish hat outfitters. There's one here in Hasidic Williamsburg I'm dying to go to but also piss terrified. Need to go with a friend me thinks...

    In terms of knit hats, it depends. Sometimes I like the awkward tight thick knit watch caps but they aren't so easy for those of us with a curlier nature...

    As per our earlier tweetversation: "What would Rei do?"

  6. AND how could I forget how amazing is Serpico's floppy hat?!

  7. Serpico sure knows how to rock a hat... and beard. I've never been much of a hat person myself, though I so wish I could be (but hat hair has always stopped me). I don't suppose any of the vintage stores around London would have anything you'd be looking for, but I actually think going to a Jewish outfitters might be a great idea.

  8. His beard is crazy! But he it looks so good to him though ;)

  9. you're amazing. the writing on your blog is, has been, and probably always will be my favorite. how has you health been lately? good, i hope. best of luck with your beardom (: