“Fashion, fade style is eternal” -Yves St. Laurent (1936-2008)
French fashion designer, Yves St. Laurent said it well, “Fashion does often fade but style is eternal.” Is it genetic, innate or created, you chose, but certainly whatever it is, the style icons of yesterday and today will always be remembered for their impeccable style, and their ability to turn heads. The men profiled in this article each have their own unique style. The middle photo is of the “Unforgettable” Nat King Cole, the suit with the crisp white shirt and the cufflinks. He was such a style icon of his day. The next two photos are of the very handsome and debonair Duke Ellington. In Robert Green’s book, The Art of Seduction, he refers to Duke Ellington as a ”dandy.” By definition a dandy is “a man who affects the extreme elegance in clothes and manners.” I definitely think Mr. Ellington personifies elegance and style in his dress. In the one photo he sports a Homburg Hat that was popular in the forties, and became popular again when Al Pacino played Michael Corleone in The Godfather. He sets it off with a velvet jacket and vest with his high draped tweed pants. If you have ever heard Billie Holiday sing “Fine and Mellow,” she mentions high draped pants. Stunning!!! The Maestro looks awesome in his royal blue matching shirt and tie. The next photo is of Mr. Wonderful, Johnny Mathis. Johnny Mathis has always been known for his elegant style. He is wearing a beige khaki suit with a white cowl neck sweater.
Walter Frazier is a poet from the New York City Area. He attributes his style to his father. He says, “I watched him dress and men of his generation. I never started to wear hats until I saw my father wear them.” When asked if he has a favorite designer he said “No, I create my own style.” He says that his signature piece would be his watch. When asked whose style does he most admires, he said “NBA greats Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe.” The advice that he gives to young Black men is “dress with pride and dignity, and keep your pants up.” Walter is wearing a blue linen jacket with a Black pork pie hat, very reminisce of the jazz musicians of the forties. This hat was popularized by the great jazz saxophonist Lester Young. Richard Price is a college professor from the New York City Area.
Professor Price says that his style was mainly influenced by his mother. ”I am one of six and my mother took me to consignment shops for shopping because she had a tight budget.” He says he still loves to shop at consignment shops from time to time. When asked if he had a favorite designer, he cited Tom Ford, Yves St. Laurent, and old Hollywood vintage glamour of the thirties and forties. He also likes Brooks Brothers and Paul Stewart, and watched the style of the men in his neighborhood and his church. He said as far as signature pieces go, he loves bold strips and slipper shoes. He stated that he also admired an Elder named Brother Maddox from his church. His advice to young black men is “as a man of color always look for ways to distinguish yourself from your peers.” Professor Price also has his own personal clothing line called Striver’s Row NYC. The clothes are made to order by appointment only. Professor Price is wearing custom tailored cuffed trousers (Striver’s Row NYC), a doubled breasted pin stripe tweed jacket and black suede slipper shoes and a vintage Louis Vuitton briefcase. A true style Icon! We will definitely be hearing more from this brother!
The Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, lll is a very prominent figure in the Harlem community. He is Pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York,and I was honored that he consented be a part of this article. When asked who influenced his style Dr. Butts said, it was his father that inspired his style. He said the didn’t have a favorite designer, however he does have a signature piece which happens to be a pocket watch which he’s had for decades, and is very dear to him.
When asked whose style does he most admires he says, Nat King Cole , Henry Ford Sr., and Dr. Benjamin Mays. The advice that he gives to young Black men is “A man’s appearance is his first line of defense against disrespect. Personal hygiene is of the utmost importance, keep your shoes shined and your shirt clean.” A definite style icon!
I‘d like to end this article with generations of style from the men in my family. The pictures below are of my father Joseph H. Green Sr., my grandson Dylan Jason Ellison, my nephew Joseph I. Green (he is the one in the middle with the scarf around his neck). Style has always been and always will be a part of the Black community, and we must teach our young Black men the elements of style!
About the Author: La Juana Green is a native of Washington, D.C. and has an English Degree from The University of the District of Columbia. She is a screenwriter, and her screenplay “ Through the Looking Glass “won an Honorable Mention in the 78th Writer’s Digest Writer’s Competition. Her name can be found in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Collection published by Outskirts Press. Most recently, she was the finalist in the Fresh Pitch Contest for her screenplay” ROE “ about an African-American policy runner during the Capone era, based on a true story. Ms. Green makes her home in Harlem, and is currently working a collection of short stories and a screenplay titled “Sisters”.