Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher
Since the days when the Duke of Windsor and Mr Fred Astaire set the sartorial pace, the world's best-dressed men have been wearing double-breasted jackets. This season they're enjoying a level of popularity not seen in a generation, and MR PORTER invited the British actor and film director Mr David Leon to demonstrate both their versatility and unsurpassed appeal.
Mr Leon, 32, is currently starring opposite Ms Brenda Blethyn in the British television series Vera, and got his break as an actor as soon as he left school. "I'd just left the National Youth Theatre and was faced with the choice of taking up a place at drama school or taking a job," he remembers. The job offer was from Hollywood movie director Mr Oliver Stone, who wanted Mr Leon to act in his 2004 film Alexander. "It was a no brainer because as much as I wanted to go to drama school I was going to study for three years to get an opportunity like this. So within 48 hours I was on a flight to Morocco, where I spent six weeks on a set with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell. It was great to watch Oliver Stone work. I didn't have a lot to do in the film - if you blink you'll miss me - but at that stage of my career, to see how it all comes together, was an education you can't pay for."
I like mixing it up, to throw in a nicely cut shirt with a vintage jacket and a pair of boots. Clothes are a way of expressing yourself
It is an education that Mr Leon has been careful not to squander. He played the lead role in The Lives of the Saints, the 2006 debut film by British fashion photographer Rankin, appeared in Mr Guy Ritchie's 2008 film RocknRolla and, as well as taking a leading role in Vera, is also honing his talents behind the camera. "I've been directing for about four years," he explains. "My short film [Man and Boy] won Best Narrative Short at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival last year."
Mr Leon and Ms Zoe Tapper in the 2006 comedy drama, These Foolish Things
Mr Leon plans to build on that success with Driven, which will be his debut feature film. "It's loosely based around my experiences growing up in Newcastle [in the North East of England] in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's a crime thriller set to the backdrop of acid house music." The setting is important to Mr Leon, who speaks fondly of his native North East. "The landscape is wonderful," he says. "The beaches stretch for miles, there's no one around, there are castles and beautiful rural areas. It's a wonderful, welcoming place to film." The film, which is still under development, currently has British actor Mr Damien Lewis, best known for Band of Brothers and Homeland, "attached", to quote Mr Leon.
As an actor Mr Leon is well aware of the power of clothes. "They're a way of reflecting your personality," he says. "Costume is hugely important. If you put on a different set of clothes it makes you walk in a different way and inhabit the character." His own style tends towards the casual - "I like mixing it up, I like to throw in a nicely cut shirt with a vintage jacket and a pair of boots. I believe clothes are a way of expressing yourself."