How To Nail Mr Richard Madden’s Rakish Rocketman Look
Mr Taron Egerton, Ms Bryce Dallas Howard and Mr Richard Madden in Rocketman, 2019. Photograph © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
We’re afraid that there’s no nice way of putting this: Mr John Reid, the one-time manager and lover of Sir Elton John, as portrayed by Mr Richard Madden in the biopic, Rocketman, is a complete and utter horror. A sexy, devastatingly handsome, well-dressed horror, but, in the film at least, a horror nevertheless.
That deep Scottish baritone, Mr Madden’s well-honed physique, coupled with a deliciously cruel streak, makes him one of cinema’s more memorable bad guys. Despite being utterly toxic in the film, Mr Reid, is of course, totally irresistible to our damaged and insecure Sir Elton. And as is so often the case in the movies, the bad guy gets to wear some of the best outfits. After years of dressing spy (anti)heroes in the Kingsman franchise, this time we want you to channel your inner bad guy with our exclusive 16-piece capsule collection based on the clothing worn by Sir Elton’s manager, Mr John Reid.
The period and location that the story of Rocketman takes place in – primarily London in 1960s and 1970s – was a pivotal one for British men’s style. The image and style of Sir Elton and Mr Reid contrast starkly. This is partly an expression of their differing characters, but also, a reflection of the two opposing forces that dominated men’s fashion of that era: the sleekly tailored modernism of mod vs the ruffled flamboyance of the peacock.
The brooding Scot prefers a lean and mean silhouette for his double-breasted suits in dark, somber colours. If he wasn’t a music manager, he could well have been a gangster. Indeed, in the 1960s and 1970s, the two professions were practically interchangeable. Tailoring was a blood sport and everyone was dressed to kill. The overall effect of this sleek look serves to heighten the tall, dark and handsome figure of Mr Madden.
While conservative in many ways, the look was anything but old fashioned. By the 1960s, tailoring in Britain had been totally transformed. The voluminous silhouette and rather heavy look of traditional Savile Row suits now felt dowdy and more suited to army officers or civil servants, rather than ambitious working-class men with a newfound taste for the good life as refracted through New Wave cinema of Mr Federico Fellini and Mr Jean-Luc Godard. Mr Reid’s look fuses Savile Row quality with an Italian lightness of touch and slimline silhouette.
Sir Elton, on the other hand, totally embraced the peacock revolution that had emerged in London in the mid-1960s, and then dialled it up to 11 throughout the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, men in the worlds of fashion and music adopted a foppish new mode of self-expression involving frills, velvet, and floral and paisley prints, items that were previously deemed to be too feminine.
In the film, Sir Elton’s wild outfits are shown as a means by which he could overcome his innate shyness and lack of confidence. He goes from wearing feather boas to an adidas tracksuit as he slowly reveals more of himself in therapy.
Mr Richard Madden in Rocketman, 2019. Photograph © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
But his style was also perhaps a reaction to a childhood spent in the dreary suburbia of post-war Britain, in which homophobia was rife. It must have been as though a black-and-white world had suddenly burst into technicolour – a total celebration that was very much of its time, place and person. Because, let’s face it, only Sir Elton can really get away with dressing like that. This is a man who once literally dressed as a peacock on stage.
Mr Reid’s attire, on the other hand, like so much of the mod wardrobe, has aged very well. Its simplicity, as the name suggests, remains very modern. Almost everyone looks better in a well-cut suit. Yet in many ways, this was the original streetwear, designed for dancing in nightclubs, hopping on and off scooters, and yes, fighting.
“Almost everyone looks better in a well-cut suit. Yet in many ways, this was the original streetwear, designed for dancing in nightclubs, hopping on and off scooters, and yes, fighting”
The key piece in the Rocketman collection is the double-breasted suit offered in charcoal grey flannel and navy-blue wool. The way in which the buttons are sequenced on a double-breasted jacket sets the tone and style of the piece. Here, they are arranged in parallel formation with all six showing. This gives it the youthful, raffish, and slightly more casual air of a reefer jacket or peacoat. It’s the kind of thing a young Mr Brian Jones would have happily worn. Slim-cut, flat-front trousers with side adjusters continue the long and lean line of the jacket, and is also in keeping with the style of the period.
This pared back elegance is further accentuated by black Chelsea boots, made exclusively for Kingsman by George Cleverley. You should know by now that all the well-shod men of London wear Cleverley. The shoemaker’s take on this most dandyish item of footwear features an elongated toe, two-inch cuban heel and elasticated sides. Authentically 1960s winkle-pickers like those we see on The Beatles often had a central seam running down the middle in order to make more economic use of leather. The George Cleverley version is cut from one single piece of leather create a smooth, unbroken line. It also features a fiddleback waist on the sole, something which traditionally we only see in very fine shoes, and represents another upgrade from the old version.
The boldly striped shirts, which were made in conjunction with Turnbull & Asser, feature a more generously cut collar than we’re used to in modern shirts, not only as a period detail, but also because it feels more louche and sexy. Jacquard print ties in paisley patterns are a small nod to the Bohemianism of the period and add a touch of colour in amid the dark and dangerous backdrop of that sharply cut suit.
There’s a still from Rocketman doing the rounds that shows Mr Reid having a fight with Sir Elton outside the Royal Albert Hall. He is of course being utterly beastly to poor Sir Elton. But doesn’t he look marvellous? Damn them, the baddies always do.