Wolf + Panther’s Style Session #2 turns the spot light on Barry Parasram, a Public Relations (PR) savvy guru who works at the National Basketball Association (NBA). Barry is effortlessly stylish. Crisp and polished yet always ready to cut loose. This man truly understands the art of presentation.
W+P: Describe your job?
I work for the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the Marketing Communications department. My job’s focus is to create awareness for the league and the players from an off-the-court perspective, bringing to life their presence in the following industries, entertainment, fashion, lifestyle and philanthropic efforts.
W+P: When did your style become your own? Did it coincide with a particular event/ life change?
My style became my own the moment I started elementary school – sporting United Colors of Benetton and Le Tigre. Then it evolved over the years to include proper accessories. Now my standard classic style is complimented with a stylish timepiece, tie bar, pocket square, and shoes. It is all about the details.
W+P: Who are your favorite designers?
W+P: Who are your style icons?
My style icons include Ralph Lauren, Steve McQueen, Marlon Brando, and Cary Grant.
W+P: Who is the best dressed in the NBA?
The NBA has probably the best dressed athletes in all sports and they are constantly leading the charge creating new fashion trends. My personal view of the best dressed NBA players includes LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul.
W+P: What is the song that gets you ready for work/ hyped for a party?
My “Get Hyped” top five (5) playlist – “FutureSex/LoveSound” by Justin Timberlake, “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z, – Public Service Announcement by Jay-Z, “Headlines” by Drake, and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates
W+P: What is your style philosophy?
Orson Welles said it best “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
Photos by Shaun Mader Studios for Wolf and Panther
Men’s watch black face brown strap: House of Horology
Suit: Black Lapel
Grey lapel flower : J and HP
Neckwear : Hugo Boss
Wolf + Panther spoke to Denim & Supply - Ralph Lauren Senior Design Director John Bakel about how to define style, his personal philosophy of fashion and where to look to get inspired for that new swag you want to try out; after all, who better than a designer to give tips on evolving your personal fashion?
W+P: Why is that most guys don’t seem to have a strong sense of personal style?
“Men and women are very different in certain ways. In one way men have a more hunter mentality and women tend to be more gathers. Men aren’t going to go window shopping, I’m a designer and even I don’t go window shopping. Guys want to find something they love. They’ll research it and then they’ll go get it. What’s missing for most guys is that it’s not just about finding pieces of clothing. Because if the things you buy don’t add up to anything and you don’t feel good in it, then it doesn’t say anything about you. Without a bigger context of what you’re looking for, you’re going to look like your closet threw up on you.”
W+P: How does a man discover the direction he wants to go? How does a guy who wants to identify his fashion voice find it?
“Some people’s personalities are very preppy. If you know that about yourself, the starting point could be looking at images of preppy guys and that could spark something in you, that leads to the question: “Where is a good place to get gingham shirts?” And then begins the search of “I don’t like this” and “I really like the fit of that.” And then the hunting begins and you start incorporating a look that matters to you. The look is always evolving.”
W+P: Ok, that makes sense but can we go a little further? How do you find those pieces that continue the evolution of your look?
“Say if you are a more rock and roll kinda spirit, or have a more downtown vibe and you’re looking for clothes in a place that sells more conservative, Wall Streety things. You could find some good pieces, something universal like blazers, but if it doesn’t really speak to what you want and you don’t really have a context for why you’re buying these things beyond buying something just because you needed it, then you’re just throwing clothes on you’re back. You’re not creating a personal style. Fashion is taking clothing a step beyond it’s utilitarian purpose and style is how you express that, pull it together and make it personal.“
W+P: How do you edit your wardrobe? It’s easy for people to get heady with the research and the thrill of the hunt. How do you keep from going too far and stay true to your style?
“Guys are simple… a guy’s wardrobe can be really paired down. You don’t need to have a lot of shoes, you just need shoes you love. If you’re wearing cowboy boots and they have a pointy toe and they’re alligator skin and you’re a preppy you’re just never going to be happy in those. Or what a lot of guys do is buy generic, in between kinda stuff and it just adds to this kind of feeling that they’re average, or that life is average and they get stuck in this weird little bubble.”
W+P: Any advice for someone who finds themselves in such a bubble?
“Context is a big thing and you’ve really got to figure out what looks inspire you. And it’s easy. You might watch a movie that inspires you. I love James Bond, it’s a sharp tailored kinda thing. I love Steve McQueen, which is more rugged, and those things can be combined together. There’s different parts of your personality where the James Bond thing might make sense, and parts where the Steve McQueen thing might make sense, and you add the two together and it becomes something unique to you and it’s exciting. Fashion has to be fun, but not goofy. Fashion is always an ongoing learning process.”
W+P: How did you get started in fashion?
“I went to school for physics, history and arabic. It just all kind of happened for me. Rogan Gregory was my neighbor and he got me an internship at Tommy Hilfiger. I was working for his sister and got a job soon after.
W+P: Wait, you were at Tommy when is was at its height. Mid/Late 90′s right? When it was huge in hip hop?
“Yeah. And further down the line, after I left Tommy, I got to be involved in the denim resurgence and its return to quality.”
W+P: So where are you finding your personal inspiration as an artist. How do you get started with the visual story you are trying to tell in the pieces you design?
“I’m looking around at what’s happening, what people are wearing, and seeing what the conversation is. Vintage is a big part of it for me. I look at vintage to see how things are really made. I can also see what someone has done with a garment when they’ve owned a piece for a long time. Maybe, they cut off the sleeves. It’s all in the details. As an artist, it’s also important to decide what you’re not going to do. Even before that, you gotta know how you want things to look. You are creating a message and it needs to be compelling. You should feel something inside when you’re creating clothes and be clear about what you’d like to say.”
W+P: Clear about what you are trying to say?
“You should never have to explain a design to the customer. They should be moved by it when they see it. They should really want it. Or they put it on and never want to take it off.”
W+P: How do you use your day and how are you left feeling at the end of it?
“Most of my day is spent sketching, fitting, bouncing around and following up on things. Its an awesome job that I love. You impact people. Challenges end up being awesome and when it’s over I say ‘Wow! I’m glad I did that.’ ”
W+P: Personal Influences?
W+P: ‘Nuff said.
Photography by Joe Tanis. Check him out at www.joetanisphotography.com
Models provided by Red NYC
Wardrobe is a combination of John’s own hand tailored suits, vintage, and a variety of brands including Denim & Supply
Wolf + Panther pretty much only goes to department stores when we can drink in them. Our last flit with great clothes and refreshing drinks was at Bloomingdale’s to check in with good ol’ Mr. Natty. Check that story here. This time we took it upstairs to Bergdorf Goodman’s 2nd floor for the launch of I am Dandy: The Return of The Elegant Gentleman.
The book is the combination of Rose Callahan’s photography from her blog The Dandy Portraits and text by Nathaniel Adams, manager of the NYC Atelier: Against Nature. I am Dandy collects portraits of fantastic and elaborately dressed gentlemen as bell weathers of the current resurgence of what one of our personal favorite dandies, Marc Williams of JJ Hat Center, calls “men who dress.”
The evening was in fact both fine and dandy. Champagne was in abundance, being poured at every turn by servers sharply dressed in Brioni, the evening’s sponsor. Live music supplied by one of the most crisply dressed bands out there, fronted by Dandy Wellington who appears in the book himself.
Bergdorf’s was founded in 1899 and created it’s Men’s Store (across the street from the main store) in 1990. For a place with so much history the store has done an impressive job of staying fresh. In fact, seeing the Dandy’s from the book with their throw-back threads milling about in front of displays of the latest Tom Browne, Rick Owens, Tom Ford, and similar made it clear just how fresh they keep it. And they stock skull handled umbrellas. Dandy as Fuck!
The portraits are on view at the National Arts Club until Friday (Nov 22).
Buy the book on Amazon here.
Elliott Sailors is Wolf + Panther’s kind of gal. You’ve seen her handsome mug on the blog before, she was the face of our Fourth of July article. She’s a strong and beautiful woman who’s been successfully modeling for years in womenswear. Now, in the next step of her career, Elliott has taken on modeling menswear. What we love about this, is that Elliott’s choice shows all of the divisions and boundaries that exist in fashion aren’t real. They are just things someone made up, got some others to agree to and then as time past the world starts relating to these opinions as law. A woman modeling menswear as a man? Why not? If she looks as good as one and the clothes look great then it’s a job well done.
Seizing an amazing opportunity to hang out with the super styled Elliott earlier this year, W + P not only had a great interview with her, but we also had a chance to do an exclusive photo shoot as a young bootlegger. Pulling from our menswear stock, Nicky Styles dressed Elliott in a slate grey/hunter green wool reproduction of a Prohibition era three piece suit. No young bootlegger would be complete with out vintage Italian brown leather boots, also from the W + P Vintage stock. W + P photographer Joe Goodman and hair and make-up artist AnaMarie Salamat helped to make this vintage photoshoot look on point.
W + P: What’s an appealing aspect of a woman wearing menswear for you? What do you like about putting on the suit and tailored pants?
For me I feel a lot more freedom in menswear. In womenswear, I like it and its pretty, but I like it when there is someone else there to make sure that its fitting me the right way, it’s moving the right way, like if there is a fan on the dress… There is a self-consciousness there. I mean there isn’t when modeling nude; my body is my body. So, in menswear there is an unlearning curve for me. There are certain stances that I can’t use in menswear that I would in womenswear… not that I can’t but they just don’t work as well. There is also a comfort now… before there were things I was asked to hide… how big my shoulders are, or how big my traps are, or contour how large my chin is. Where as now, I don’t feel the need to hide anything!
W + P: Do you think shooting menswear is helping you embrace some of the things you would try to hide when modeling womenswear?
Absolutely! There were when times when shooting womenswear I had thought I looked like a guy trying to look like a woman. So in seeing that I felt “shouldn’t I just look like a guy?”
W + P: Speaking of that how is the experience of seeing yourself in menswear as a woman who is actually married to a man?
I love it! It’s like getting to experience a whole other version of myself as a model. For so many years I have seen tons of other ways to recreate the way that I look in front of the camera; this is just a version that I haven’t explored. I haven’t been this excited about a new career move in, I don’t know how long! It’s really cool to be a part of something that is actually newer to fashion; a woman actually working as a male model is still a newer concept.
W + P: So why switch from what is obviously a super successful modeling career as traditional female model to working in menswear?
A number of things: I can work out the way I want to and not have to worry about being too muscular. Also, I don’t WANT to admit this, but I’m getting older. Most models are women with long hair and as a woman with long blonde hair the 18-24 year olds are gonna beat me out pretty much every time. What I like is, as a guy I can photograph about 10 years younger.
W + P: Do you prepare differently when you’re wearing menswear versus being photographed as a woman?
Totally! I didn’t even shave my legs today!! A lot more goes into preparing as a girl, for a photo shoot.
W+P: What’s the difference?
Well, with my hair being shorter, I don’t worry if I doing a treatment ahead of time in case they use too many heat products. On a day to day basis I don’t even think about my hair anymore, which is really nice. Though I do go every couple weeks to Decatur and Sons to get it buzzed.
W + P: What are the classic looks in menswear that you appreciate?
I completely love the whole Mad Men era. It think its really attractive. I am also a big fan of guys with the perfect stubble. The cowboy, rustic version of that is hot, or the gentlemen version with a suit and a button up. I think I also like it because its the thing I can’t do. I’m seen as a pretty boy.
W + P: What men in your life have great style?
My husband is definitely one of my favorite dressers in the world. He is the king of the whole vest look… with lots of three piece suits and the whole vest thing, sleeves rolled up… tie or not, he always looks good.
W + P: Would you share clothes with your husband?
I wear his jeans sometimes, he has more of a booty than I do. He is bigger than I am so his shirts don’t really fit me.
W + P: You said love the Mad Men era, is that your favorite design decade?
If I had to pick one for men’s and women’s fashion, the whole look including beauty, I would have to go 80′s.
It’s not so much the shoulder pads. I really like the natural eyebrows. I like how colorful it was, I like that men were still allowed to wear short shorts sometimes. The leather is my favorite part of the 80′s.
W+P: Leather on leather?
Yeah! I love rock music so the whole glam rock thing WORKS!
W+P: Do you listen to music before you prepare for a shoot? What do you need to get ready beforehand?
Not really, I don’t have a specific one thing that I listen too. It’s not a necessity. I do like to know what I am getting into. I like to know the mood, like when I did the photo shoot for Bacardi and the party was set in 1957, I literally just enrolled everyone to think we were shooting Mad Men for that day. It was pretty fun!
To get more of the amazingness that is Ms. Elliott Sailors like her Facebook page and follow her @elliottsailors on Twitter and Instagram. Her Throwback Thursdays are pretty dope.
The team we assembled for this shoot are always up to other cool things too. Find out what by following their Instagram’s @begborrowstealfilms (Joe Goodman, Photos) and @amsalamat (AnaMarie Salamat, Hair and Make Up).
And if one photo shoot isn’t enough and you’d like to see Nicky style Elliott as a woman for Cake Magazine then check this out.
We love Kone Sidou. He’s fam and we dig his style. We recently shot Kone (with W+P Photographer Shaun Mader) for our Portrait Series (coming in October) to show off Kone’s sense of easy, sporty elegance and effortless cool.
Now, our boy also happens to be a model. Like, a serious one. He was the face of Cole Haan this season (is that why I bought a pair?). So when we were thinking about what Wolf + Panther would report on for New York Fashion Week (NYFW) we thought it would be interesting to take a different angle on Fashion Week reporting by bringing you the story of Jonah in the belly of the whale A.K.A. a male model at Fashion Week. We were curious what it’s like to be paradoxically at the center of the whirlwind and yet also removed from it the way model’s seem to be (they are the literal focus point, but they’re not the ones having the conversation – that’s the designers and the media).
First up for Kone was walking in the Grey Line Map show. Model Call was at 10am for the Chelsea Piers show. Because Kone has short hair and damn near perfect skin, he told us he often doesn’t need hair or make-up, so he got to skip those chairs in favor of hanging out on pleather sofa (with quite a nice view of the Hudson). Plenty of time to enjoy the bagels and fruit salad (they DO feed the models!) and, just like the rest of us, dick around on your phone. How much of your time in this job is spent waiting like this? Kone: “Yeah, it’s a lot of time spent waiting. Mostly my job takes 15 minutes, I put on the clothes and then walk.”
While Kone waited and the other models got their hair done, clothes were unpacked and ironed and finishing touches were being put on many of the garments. To keep things organized, each model’s look was assembled on a hanger with a photo of what it looks like on. Miguel Pena, the designer for Grey Line Map, did his thing with gust and style making last minute adjustments. The footwear for the show was surprisingly badass looking wingtip boots by Dr. Schole’s (what!? I know!!) When asked the prerequisite question of “are they comfortable?”, Miguel’s excited response of “So comfortable! Super light wait, I couldn’t believe it. Dr. Scholes!!” I need a pair..like yesterday.
Twenty minutes before showtime the models practice their walk while production tests the lights and music. Looking around, everyone is on beat and ready to rock. As a flurry of bodies, lint rollers and clothes move in a choreographed dance the models are dressed and lined up. The show’s production was recognizably smooth, organized and on point. Kone told us about some other ones (often bigger names) that weren’t quite as clean.
“The job is very simple if things are organized, when it’s not then it get’s very stressful. A model is supposed make a face that looks strong, but when you’re stressed you look angry.”
Of course when Kone said this his face split into that amazing smile of his. Nothing to be angry about at this show. A zen-like calm describes the mood backstage as Simon Alcantara adds his super cool necklaces and jewelry as a final touch to the looks.
And then it starts. The EDM gets pumping, the lights get cool and the models do that thing they do. Kone wore an irridescent white short-sleeve button down with harem pants that become tapered to tights at mid thigh. He strides down the catwalk, turns and heads back. Changes out of the clothes and he’s done. Off to his other job. Did we tell you Kone’s a chef? Like, a serious one at Colonie on Atlantic Ave. We love this guy.
W+P’s review of the show:
Grey Line Map’s S/S 2013 line looks good. Lots of formally structured button-downs in iridescent fabrics, sleeve-less sweaters, sheer tanks, shorts and calf-length pants with brightly colored socks. With fun details like longer-in-the-back shirt tails kept the structure and formality of the looks light and laid back.
He said: The short sleeve sailing jacket in black paired with the capri-length black pants and yellow socks was my favorite look. Crisp, but relaxed and fun at the same time.
She said: I really digged the use of color in the socks. And of my favorite looks were the sleeveless knit wear with the crispness of the tailored shorts. Did I mention that the Dr. Scholl’s shoes were everything?
A hat is a next level accessory. You don’t need one, so it’s a deliberate move and clear statement if you choose to rock one. ”It’s the cherry atop the sundae” according to Marc Williamson, the sharply dressed manager of NYC’s oldest (open since 1911) and illest hat shop, JJ Hat Center.
W +P asked the question what kind of a guy wears a hat? Marc’s answer was “a confident guy.” Marc is specific, making the point that he wouldn’t say it is a “well dressed guy” since “well” is a matter of taste. Marc builds upon his distinction that a “man who dresses” is someone who thinks about their clothing as opposed to the majority of guys whom Marc says “don’t dress at all.”
Today wearing a fedora or stingy brim is considered the edgier fashion choice, a stark contrast of when a man wouldn’t be caught dead without a proper hat. JJ Hat center has been around that entire time. What changed? Marc points to the Flower Power revolution of the 60′s which was an anti-establishment rejection of the trappings of tradition – the formality of suits, ties, and hats were given over to casual ease of jeans, beards, and t-shirts.
Marc is the kind of person that makes you want to buy a hat, his style is effortlessly cool and hats look straight up fly on him. He’s owns over 30 and when asked how he finds the right one ”the mirror is the best salesmen in the house… It’s that nod of approval that you give yourself.”
When asked where his swagger came up Marc answered: “I grew up in the hip hop culture of Queens. Baggy pants, one leg up, spotless Tim’s, gaudy gold jewelry… breaking out of that came with time. I admired it when I wasn’t doing it, but it wasn’t until, number one: having the call, and two: I didn’t want to do it temporarily. Dress one way one day, than back to the other the rest. I wanted to wait until I could do it all the way. Not wear the clothes until I had a closet full of them.” He says one’s fashion game comes up “when life calls for it.”
Once life calls for it there are some details to learn. Here is Marc’s advice on headgear wear and care:
Seasonality: “Traditionally it’s felt in winter, straw in summer. Me? I’ve been wearing my felt all year. It’s great to have tradition. Tradition teaches and it trains you to not be traditional, so it’s good to have both.”
Care: ”Treat a hat like a pair of shoes, don’t wear it in a torrential downpour, if it’s worn in light drizzle let it dry away from heat. For straw hats don’t grab the pinch, even felt hats get worn out at the pinch. Use a lint roller or packing tape to get the dust off the surface and a horse hair paintbrush to keep it fresh by brushing it counter clockwise.”
Etiquette: ”It has gotten a little looser than it was 50-60 years ago. If you’re in a restaurant take off your hat. If you’re in a bar, no. If you’re sitting at the bar in a restaurant, no. I don’t think you have to take your hat off if you’re in an elevator with a lady. If you know enough about fashion to be wearing a hat you should just know in your heart when you should take it off.”
Do you have to be dressed up to wear a hat? ”I’m a believer that the hat you get you should be able to dress it up or dress it down and that’s for stingy brim or wide brim. I’ll wear the same hat with a blazer or with cargo pants and a denim shirt. Historically that’s been the case. You had farmers or construction workers wearing a fedora with their coveralls and then wear the same hat with a suit to church on Sundays.”
JJ Hat Center also owns Pork Pie Hatters. Check them both out here.
He said: Hats, like all traditional fashion pieces, were originally created as performance gear. A straw hat keeps the sun off you in the summertime and felt keeps you warm in the winter and I find hats quite effective in this role.
She Said: There are few things sexier than a man who knows how to wear a hat. It takes style and confidence to add that as the final accessory. Personally, I prefer wearing mens hats with my own outfits. It adds sex appeal to any wearer.
Sneaking going into the main tent with proper credentials to see a show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is unlike any other New York City tradition. Catching the shows are only part of the experience. Seeing, being seen and wearing sunglasses indoor is the main event. The tent dwellers are the epitome of free-form fashion self expression. Wolf + Panther dove into the melee to find some examples of solid style amid the circus. Thumb through the photo book and have a look at the suits, the style, and the swagger. Next NYC tradition: Fleet Week #justkidding.
Why don’t they serve free drinks at Bloomingdale’s all the time? Last night GQ x Bloomingdale’s British Invasion brought booze, food and some interesting opportunities. Of the offerings Harry’s of London and Mr. Natty were the favorites.
Harry’s of London specializes in italian made leather shoes with Vibram soles. If you bought a pair last night Harry’s was offering to custom dye them any color you wanted on the spot, right there in the store while you load up on shrimp.
The other interesting option, and the reason W+P stopped by, was the Bloomingdale’s launch of Mr. Natty’s line of grooming products. To celebrate the duo behind the brand, Matt Brook and Matt Raine, were on hand to offer the traditional experience of a straight razor shave. Yes, it was the kind of night where you can wander into a storied department store, get a hot shave, down some WhistlePig Rye, and try on formal wear that is lined with images from the covers of Beatles albums.
Stay tuned for a full interview with Mr. Natty where we will get the details on how they combined refined with gruff to create the kind of products guys have been waiting for (seriously, where has this Beard Elixir been all my post-pubescent life?) and find out if in fact everyone involved is named Matt.