Monday, January 9, 2017

meet DAVID COGGINS .. stylistically individual



There is very little than can be said about a man who you consider  to be an observer, a curator, a historian, a writer/author, a collector,  a raconteur, a style maven, a world traveler and an active participant in the worlds of fashion and style. Add to that mix that he lives by his words; honesty, no pronouncements just assessments, an individualist, an independent thinker and all of it with no pretense to his writing nor with any authoritative tone such as “ do it my way or no way as it’s the only way.”
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David Coggins new book, Men and Style: Essays, Interviews, and Considerations, is a work written by someone who actually understands the difference between fashion and style as well as how our past and present affect how we dress and what we think about appearances and our wardrobes. He is wiser than most and realizes that there is so much more to both fashion and style than just trend and being of the moment or some walking advertisement for a particular brand. One might say he is a sage of style or possibly a fashion arbiter of the rarest variety. He is the keen reporter of so many things that make up who we are but can’t readily see that is so much a part of us or possibly even know these influences exist.
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In essence, David Coggins is a gentleman who should be read and listened to and so here we can “listen” in his own words or if you are so inclined, run out and buy his book!... and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the Fall ‘17 men’s fashion cycle!

Jeffrey Felner: What was your favorite assignment and why? And what would be your dream assignment and why?
David Coggins: Well I love to travel and I love tailoring. This past summer I got to write about having a suit made in Naples at Rubinacci, a legendary tailor there. They made it very quickly so I met with the head cutter every day for a week. It was terrific seeing the work they did and these object some to life. Their skill is just amazing. You can read about it here: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-rubinacci-bespoke-suit
It’s good to spend some time in a city and then write about it. Anytime I can write about Japan I’m also happy—the restaurants, the stores, the culture of service and hospitality are all so amazing. I’m always happy to be there, and very happy to write about it. Of course, if I could go write about fly fishing in the Bahamas I would love to do that too. I’m a trout fisherman who’s currently obsessed with bonefish. And it’s really distracting me!
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JF: What is your opinion of men’s fashion these days when so much tends to look alike and seems geared to the young? Favorites? Extreme dislikes?
DC: Well, I think it’s a danger to encourage men to buy more and more clothes they don’t need, as opposed to fewer, better-made clothes they can have for a long time. The creation of trends, in general, is not good for men and certainly not ideal for men’s style. It encourages a disposable sensibility, instead of an enduring one. So I try to take the long view. Something should have looked good a decade ago and should look good a decade from now. There’s a danger in seeming too much of the moment, because the moment, of course, will always pass. Certain things have endured because they cannot be improved upon. So the idea of making a lot of new clothes just to feed the beast can be a perilous thing.
            The best thing that’s happening now is that men are more and more aware about where their clothes are made and by whom. So that inspires good companies to start doing things the right way. And there are a lot of good small companies right now doing good work.
            As far as extreme dislikes, I’m very nervous about “luxury sportswear”—two words I dislike coming together to make something even worse. And anything that involves sweatpants in public is very upsetting to me. All sweatpants should be buried. All of them. 
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JF: Do you consider fashion an art form or rather a means of self-expression and why?
DC: Well it’s only an art form for a very few. Those are visionary people, often known by single name, who changed the way we think about ourselves and our relation to society. Though I think dressing as a form of self-expression is still a rare and difficult thing, and nothing to take for granted. When I see a well-dressed man I feel very happy and reassured about the state of civilization. When I see a truly well-dressed man I feel the same way, but sometimes also uneasy because he’s making me ask questions I didn’t know to ask.
 
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JF: Can you tell us of your style icons, mentors or just those you admire most? And why?
DC: Well I love the way old Italian men dress. They love tailoring and appreciate how it can flatter a man. They also love color and texture and combining those two things. So somebody like Luciano Barbera has always been exciting to me. He also looks happy in photographs, which is a good reminder that he keeps in mind the bigger picture.
 
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JF: If you could have a dinner party and invite 5 guests, who would they be and why?
DC: Ah, the world’s most difficult question. I’ll keep it to the living, to make it easier. I would want a good mix, right? Let’s start with John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer and a man who’s lived very well and is a great storyteller. How about John Burns, the great retired New York Times writer, who’s written from war zones all over the world? He was also London bureau chief and is extremely good. Laurence Osborne, a great English writer who used to live in Bangkok. He likes to drink his martini at exactly 6.15pm, so he could be the first to arrive. For glamour let’s say Helen Mirren. She’s the type of person that you would let smoke in your apartment even though you don’t let people smoke in your apartment. How can you say No to her? You need one wild card in there. So how about Cat Power? You never know how she’s going to behave. She might not even show up!