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The Family Way

Is style hereditary? These icons of familial savoir faire would suggest the answer is yes

  • Mr Pablo Picasso and son Claude, France, 1957 Photo Globe Photos/ Zuma Press

“You know how it is with fathers,” wrote Mr John Updike in his book Rabbit, Run. “You never escape the idea that maybe after all they’re right.” Of course, it’s much easier to accept the notion of paternal virtuousness if they lead from the front when it comes to style. Investigating this point, MR PORTER has been leafing through a selection of family albums wherein the usual cringe-inducing snaps are banished in favour of dynastic studies in sartorial splendour.

Here are patriarchs passing on life lessons that go a little further than the regular shaving how-to or the birds-and-the-bees talk. How to master formal wear, for instance, or big-sky attire, or even how to nail coordinated resort chic. Though this makes for a sense of style that is essentially inherited, much like a prominent nose or an aversion to peanuts, the personal examples these men set their own progeny can nonetheless be of universal benefit to anyone looking to present a familial façade that’s premiere- or Riviera-appropriate. In these examples, you can give way to Mr Updike’s conviction with a glad heart… because dad really does know best.


  • The McCartneys on a private jet during the Wings Over the World tour, 1976 © 1976 MPL Communications Ltd / Photographer: Robert Ellis. All rights reserved

On their customised British Aircraft Corporation 1-11 during the Wings Over America tour in 1976, Sir Paul McCartney and family nail 1970s supergroup chic: baseball jackets, heavy-duty indigo jeans, chunky Wallabees, gingham dresses, sandals-and-ankle-sock combos, proper linen, cutlery and mini-cruet sets, and even specially adapted headphones to enjoy a silent-disco bass solo with dinner (not pictured: the private jet’s actual mini-disco, complete with fluorescent lights, at the rear). Today’s musical families (the Carter-Knowles clan, the West-Kardashians) should look and learn; this is the way to, as Sir Paul put it, “live like gypsies, a bunch of nutters on the road”.

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  • Mr Charlie Casely-Hayford and father Joe, London, 2013 Morgan O’Donovan

In everything but their stature (the son has a good five inches on his father), Messrs Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford are spookily in sync. They share the same birthday (30 years apart), they download the same tracks (King Krule is a favourite, though it was Joe who introduced son Charlie to his charms rather than vice versa), and they even holiday together in Italy. They also collaborate on the streetwear-meets-Savile Row menswear line that bears their name, “a mix of English sartorial elegance and British anarchy,” according to Joe, though he brings as much of the latter as his sometime-model son. This, after all, is the man who, when creative director of Gieves & Hawkes, introduced a brogue that looked as if it had been peppered with buckshot. Could they be the apotheosis of father-son style?

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  • The Beckhams attend the world premiere of The Class of 92, London, 2013 Dave J Hogan/ Getty Images

When your father is regularly extolled as the world’s most stylish man, the temptation might be to stage a normcore rebellion. Thankfully for Mr David Beckham, his sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz have taken to the fashion field with gusto, matching him point-for-point when it comes to grooming (quiffed hair, perfect teeth), dressing up (well-cut suits, gleaming Oxfords), and dressing down (beanies, chambray shirts, Air Jordans). In further apple-staying-in-tight-proximity-to-tree evidence, Brooklyn has already landed numerous style-magazine covers while Romeo threw some crazy trenchcoated shapes as the youngest-ever Burberry model. With matriarch Ms Victoria Beckham posting Instagram shots of daughter Harper blazing a chic trail for pre-schoolers, the motto for the Beckham crest is clear: the family that styles together smiles together.

What to wear

  • John Lobb City II Burnished-Leather Oxford Shoes


  • Mr Jean Paul Belmondo with his son Paul in Saint-Tropez, 1964 Patrice Habans/ Paris Match via Getty Images 

Does anything conjure up the devil-may-care spirit of the French Nouvelle Vague more comprehensively than this study of Mr Jean-Paul Belmondo, craggy star of À Bout de Souffle, muse of Messrs Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Melville and the Gallic answer to Mr Humphrey Bogart, having a larksome (if potentially asphyxiation-inducing) moment with his son Paul in Saint-Tropez in 1964? It should ideally be soundtracked by Ms Brigitte Bardot crooning “Le Soleil”, and will surely reaffirm, for students of beach deportment, the eternal verities of the Speedo-like trunk, the all-over tan and the maintenance of an insouciant demeanour even as your progeny assail you.

What to wear

  • Orlebar Brown Setter Slim-Fit Short-Length Striped Swim Shorts

  • Castañer Pablo Canvas Espadrilles


  • Mr Picasso, son Claude and his partner Ms Françoise Gilot, Côte d'Azur, 1948 © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography/ Magnum Photos

Mr Pablo Picasso burned through as many wives and mistresses as he did periods and “isms” in his long and venerable career. But his strongest brush with bourgeois paterfamilias contentment came with his post-war sojourn on the Côte d’Azur alongside Ms Françoise Gilot, an art student some four decades his junior, and their children Claude and Paloma. The Mediterranean idyll is captured both in his paintings of the time, replete with nymphs, satyrs and fauns, and the photos of la famille Picasso perambulating between chateau and Croisette with languorous ease. He also embodied the haute-Boho-Riviera look: slashed short-sleeve print shirts, baggy Breton tees, cuffed linen shorts and fraying straw hats that look as if they’ve come straight from the Concorso d’Eleganza.

What to wear

  • Incotex Slim-Fit Linen and Cotton-Blend Shorts


  • Ms Stephanie Seymour with Messrs Peter and Harry Brant at the opening of the new Dolce & Gabbana Fifth Avenue flagship boutique, New York, 2013  Joe Shildhorn/

“We’re, like, a very aesthetic family,” says Mr Peter Brant II. He’s not kidding. His father, media mogul Mr Peter Brant I, runs an art foundation on the 53-acre family farm in Connecticut (one of the first things Peter sees when drawing back his curtains is Mr Jeff Koons’ gleaming “Balloon Dog [Orange]” in the grounds), while his mother, Ms Stephanie Seymour, was once photographed by Mr Juergen Teller reclining atop one of Mr Koons’ giant floral puppies. Meanwhile, young Peter and his brother, Mr Harry Brant, have become the dandy boulevardiers of New York society – Little Lord Flauntleroys, as one magazine described them – joining their mother on photoshoots and introducing their 80,000-plus Twitter and Instagram followers to the daringly fashion-forward delights of silk scarves, guyliner, cropped matador jackets and chunky Art Deco jewellery.

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  • Ms Eugenie and Mr Stavros Niarchos with their children (left to right) Spyros, Constantine, Isabella and Philip, at their villa on the Greek island of Spetsopoula, 1968 Pierre Boulat/ The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images

In the protracted game of billionaire one-upmanship that Mr Stavros Niarchos fought with his fellow Greek shipping magnate Mr Aristotle Onassis, whether in the matter of super-yachts (Mr Onassis had the 325ft Christina O: Mr Niarchos responded with the 375ft Atlantis), or private islands (Mr Onassis was the seigneur of Skorpios, but Mr Niarchos stocked his own Spetsopoula with rare plants and game, making it a jet-set hunters’ paradise), it looked as if Mr Onassis had played his trump card when marrying Ms Jacqueline Kennedy. However, Mr Niarchos’ two marriages resulted in a fountain of photogenic offspring, and provided opportunities for numerous humblebrag snaps wherein, as here, Mr Niarchos played the gratified patriarch and, by the by, ushered in the art of painstakingly coordinated familial resort-wear, still hommaged by today’s super-rich and super-stylish.

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  • Mr Ernest Hemingway with his sons and wife Ms Martha Gellhorn, Idaho, 1941 © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography/ Magnum Photos

“To be a successful father, there’s one absolute rule,” wrote Mr Ernest Hemingway. “When you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.” Later, however, he became the attentive “Papa” to a fault. He dressed his sons Patrick and Gregory in miniature versions of his own mid-century macho look – pressed khakis, distressed leather jackets, deerstalker caps – and set the template for all future adventure, away-day chic, appropriate for stalking big or small game or, as here, enjoying a boozy team-building Idaho picnic (with Mr Hemingway’s third wife Ms Martha Gellhorn bringing her own frontierswoman style to the table). Things may have gone tragically awry later – divorce and suicides – but this was a brief chance to observe a top-of-the-food-chain unit at the peak of its prowess.

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