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A Gentleman’s Guide

What The Art Crowd Wore To Frieze 2018

Eight takeaway looks from the London art fair that are as pretty as a picture

Is fashion art? It’s a question you could debate until the end of time. So, you’ll be pleased to know, we have no intention of tackling it here. What we can say with authority, though, is that the gentlemen who turned up to the Frieze art fair in Regent’s Park in London last week pushed the envelope on dressing as an art form. They all seemed to have developed their own dressing practice or method, to use words beloved of gallerists, and you can imagine these looks seeing them through this current period of their lives. Well, at least until the next event. Here, we explore key looks from London’s biggest art fair.

01. Mixed media

Outfits that bring together pattern, colour and texture are always a bit of a gamble. One always runs the risk of going over the top and looking like a children’s TV presenter circa 1994. But get it right and you look ice-cool. Approach it like this pro and start with garments in flattering cuts. Take away the colour and fabrication here and you’re left with a crisp but relaxed silhouette. So far, so good. Then play matchmaker with the different elements. Partner an irregular material such as fleece with something that says order and consistency – striped cotton trousers, for example. And there you have it – a playful yet sophisticated look that Mr David Hockney might have worn in his pomp.

  • Loewe Leather-Trimmed Shearling Jacket

  • President's Striped Cotton Drawstring Trousers

02. Casual tailoring

The approach to tailoring here is roguish, a bit Mr Damien Hirst, if you, like him, are a lover of both sportswear and dishevelled suits. Pairing a black cotton hoodie with a plaid Balenciaga blazer (left) may seem like a bold move, but the combo bridges the gap between formal and casual perfectly, which is useful if you move from art-buying days to gallery-party nights. As for the oversized two-piece suit (right), the wool’s subtle lustre gives it a sophisticated depth (no one wants to be seen in a dowdy dad suit) while the half-buttoned shirt adds a louche touch.

  • Balenciaga Green Oversized Double-Breasted Checked Virgin Wool Blazer

  • Dries Van Noten Navy Unstructured Wool-Blend Flannel Blazer

03. Nineties nostalgia

From Jackie O shades to distressed denim and knitwear, oversized silhouettes to that unmistakable mop of bleach-blond hair, fashion has a lot to thank Mr Kurt Cobain for. The late Nirvana frontman, who is credited with popularising the grunge aesthetic, also tried and tested this technique of layering bright printed shirts, typically camp collar, over band T-shirts. This gentleman has made his look that little bit more objet d’art with a panther shirt from Gucci. The bold contrasts between green, black and red are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the sun-bleached hues favoured by Mr Cobain. Still, we love it all the same.

  • Gucci Camp-Collar Printed Silk-Twill Shirt

  • Blackmeans Slim-Fit Printed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt

04. Urban explorer

Art aficionados are the great explorers of the cultural unknown. Rather than seeking out uncharted land, they have to trawl hundreds of stalls in large tents in big cities, which couldn’t be more tiring. This gent combines both pursuits in one look. An anorak designed to combat the elements would look cumbersome and out of place in an urban environment, but the high-visibility orange panelling of this number brings it determinedly into the city. The light padding provides adequate insulation without making him look like the Michelin Man. What really makes this art fair-friendly, though, is the black lapels that bring a sharp, tailored edge to an otherwise rugged look.

  • Junya Watanabe Colour-Block Nylon Hooded Jacket

  • Prada Cotton-Twill Trousers

05. Polo club

Since time immemorial, many a stylish man – Mr Francis Bacon, for one – has found his signature style in the polo-neck sweater and coat/jacket combo. Why is this look such a timeless hit? Pairing with tailoring, such as a bottle-green velvet blazer (left), breathes an air of informality into a look. And while a shirt may look uptight and stuffy and a T-shirt could prove shapeless and even sloppy, the rollneck occupies a happy space inbetween. Meanwhile, when a more athletic jacket is layered over a white polo-neck from Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, as it is on the right, it brings structure and definition not only to the outfit, but an entire look. Plus, there’s nothing like a polo-neck for sharpening the jawline.

  • De Bonne Facture Wool-Piqué Rollneck Sweater

  • CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Slim-Fit Embroidered Cotton-Jersey Rollneck T-Shirt

06. The new dandy

This gentleman knows how to subliminally subvert the laws of classic tailoring, much like American artist Mr Matthew Barney. Who says a blazer has to be cut to fit and pressed to perfection? The weathered, just-thrown-on vibe lends a feeling of authenticity. And it’s a message that doesn’t stop at the waist. Tapered suit trousers would look plain odd here, so he has paired the blazer with khaki cargo pants for a truly robust look. By layering an inky-blue cardigan over an embroidered white shirt buttoned to the neck, he is maintaining the perfect tension between ease and elegance.

  • Officine Generale Olive Slim-Fit Unstructured Herringbone Linen-Blend Suit Jacket

  • John Smedley Petworth Merino Wool Cardigan

07. Colour blocking

Through his seminal Homage To The Square series of the late 1960s, Mr Josef Albers cemented his name as the king of colour, and this man seems to have torn a leaf out of his book. From his charcoal raincoat to his beige trousers and brown pouch, right down to his teal socks, no two items are the same colour. The key to success with this approach is choosing muted tones, which work together in harmony. Then throw in a bright-white tee and black leather brogues with a bit of lustre to prevent the outfit edging into drabness.

  • Burberry Oversized Cotton-Gabardine Coat

  • Common Projects Leather Pouch

08. Timeless patterns

Southwestern prints are a steadfast design trope employed by everyone from RRL to brands such as Alanui (coming soon) and Faherty. By pairing the pattern with a leaf-print shirt and taupe jeans, this chap has created a pleasing nature narrative consisting of organic motifs and earthy hues. We heartily approve.

  • RRL Shawl-Collar Intarsia Wool-Blend Cardigan

  • Beams Indigo-Dyed Striped Cotton T-Shirt

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