Here at The Department of Style, we consider ourselves lucky. We get to travel to interesting places, meet people from all walks of life, and be exposed to classic style in all its various forms with joyful regularity. And every now and then, we get to meet a true legend. Gay Talese is one, not only for his writing but also for his remarkable clothes.
Talese is a man in whose footsteps followed Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, and George Plimpton.
A writer for more than sixty years and arguably the first “New Journalist”, Talese is a man who keeps his eye on the story while never forgetting that – as a human being – his voice matters too. He has told in exacting and colourful detail the stories of athletes, mobsters, the sex lives of Americans, the growth of cities, even his own family history. And all the while doing it in high sartorial style.
He comes by it honestly. His father was a tailor, his mother ran a dress shop. To this day his cousins run the Cristiani Tailors in Paris. His fastidiously organized closet still contains many Cristianis, but also hallmark brands such as Giorgio Beverly Hills, Meledandri, and Smalto.
Talese changes his clothes three times a day. Dressing for dinner is especially important. It’s a lost grace that he exercises even when going to a modest neighbourhood restaurant. And yet what for some would be an extravagance , for Talese it’s an opportunity for creative frugality. He still regularly wears suits and jackets that he has owned for half a century, patching and embellishing the garments as they have worn thin.
As it turns out, Talese is as generous with his time as he is particular about his clothes. He allowed The Department of Style access his collected clothes, hats, and shoes, and to interview him about his philosophy of writing, of dressing, and of living. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.