With the movie industry’s obsession with style and the visual aesthetic, the close and complex relationship it holds with the world of fashion comes as no surprise. A procession of iconic actors spanning the silver screen’s illustrious timeline are, to this day, still highly revered by menswear’s movers and shakers.
Images capturing James Dean’s rebellious outsider-style or Paul Newman’s Ivy League posturing have been immortalised through everything from wall art and graphic t-shirts to the constant stream of animated gifs and vivid jpegs that form sites like tumblr’s digital landscape.
These frozen portraits remain unquestionably relevant today, passing the test of time under fashion’s fastidious glare and helping to define the subtleties of twenty-first century masculinity. Off camera and between takes, the patron saints of effortless dress appear to maintain a mystique and casual cool that one might only expect from their on-screen counterparts.
However, there is now a new era of protagonists, representing a dark intensity hidden in the depths of every modern man’s personality and a nonchalant attitude to style one can only covet: the anti-hero.
Tyler Durden: the godfather of cinematic style’s next generation; Jim Stark reloaded for the turn of the millennium; the everyman’s idealistic and charismatic alter-ego.
Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Durden symbolises the monstrous, anti-establishment image that his real world contemporaries secretly desire but are too afraid to become. His self-assured and ostentatious style follows suit, depicting an almost unattainable presence that could only exist in a world of visceral fiction – mere mortals are left admiring from afar.
As with any figure of fashion inspiration, reference points and personal interpretation are more appropriate than outright imitation. Beneath the maximalist excess of Durden’s outfits lie foundations built from a collage of vintage and thrift store items.
This idea alone is worthy of investigation, whether it’s scouring charity shops for pieces in tune with your individual taste (see Jordan’s great guide to integrating vintage clothing) or exploring eBay’s quieter corners for something more in keeping with the slim fit silhouette cast by Durden’s chiselled frame.
The ever present vibrant graphic shirts might be more Project Mayhem than Project Catwalk, though they do bear a distinct likeness to the bold prints and patterns that are dominating current menswear campaigns. If one thing can be learnt from Mr Durden’s daring demeanour it might be to occasionally tap into our inner anti-hero and employ a little more courage with bold fashion decisions.
Look for classic wardrobe staples that have been given a contemporary injection of bold print or colour. A burgundy leather jacket, a bold green trench or simply a printed t-shirt/shirt is just enough of a statement that will allow you to effortlessly stand out from your peers:
Forced to commit murder in order to survive, Malik El Djebena embodies the archetypal modern anti-hero in Jacques Audiard’s claustrophobic prison drama, ‘A Prophet‘.
A multi-layered character that one can’t help but root for despite his indiscretions (of which there are quite a few) and whose vulnerability contradicts the seemingly ruthless acts of self preservation, Malik’s outward appearance reflects his subdued and brooding personality, displaying a refreshing naivety that belies his uncompromising rise to power.
If Durden’s style is the thing of fanciful fiction, Malik’s is that of gritty reality – the loose fitting sweaters and unbuttoned polos cut a forlorn figure that channels the 1990′s grunge and skater ethos.
It is on his regular escapades outside the prison walls that Malik’s understated style develops, exuding effortless cool and utilising restrained, neutral colours in keeping with the true Parisian tradition.
Malik’s black leather jacket is synonymous with cinema’s rebellious side, pays homage to Brando’s ‘The Wild One‘ and closely resembles those seen in recent collections by Rick Owens and Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent. This prophetic look can be easily tailored to one’s taste with a simple injection of colour or the introduction of more contemporary fitting pieces.
Wardrobe staples in timeless colour ways will continue to form the foundation of any great outfit. Create your own take on Parisian chic by mixing edgy rock ‘n’ roll inspired pieces with relaxed cuts, resulting in a clashing of silhouette that doesn’t require bold colours in order to make a statement:
It may be something of a stretch to describe grim reaper incarnate and the lead antagonist in ‘No Country for Old Men‘ as an anti-hero, but anyone who wears raw denim with such verve can’t be all bad.
Javier Bardem’s Oscar-winning performance in the Coen Brothers’ modern classic describes a cold hearted hitman who determines his prospective victim’s fate with the toss of a coin.
The shaggy haired, hired gun of few words is rarely seen on online inspiration boards or style shrines and is certainly something of an unorthodox selection. Chigurh’s rugged and durable appearance mirrors his seemingly super human powers of ruthless resolve and relentless determination.
His large physique is perfectly suited to the dark coloured, American workwear pieces worn during the film, a look made popular today by heritage brands such as Tenderloin and Levi’s Vintage clothing.
Chigurh’s uncomplicated combination of raw denim jacket, button down cotton shirt and black straight cut jeans is both easy to wear and extremely masculine.
Raw denim and classic button-downs take centre stage but don’t discredit other signature workwear pieces that can help bring the look bang up to date.
Heavy duty flannels, hard wearing overshirts, corduroy jackets and the like are all fair game. Remember to tuck in your shirt and focus on fit in order to provide the perfect balance between smart and casual:
The 1980s influenced ‘Drive‘ fuses comic book gore with film noir and art house aesthetics to create an ultra-violent fairy tale set against the backdrop of down-town LA. What Ryan Gosling’s character, ‘The Driver’, lacks in dialogue he more than makes up for through explicit action and stylish costume, encapsulating the blueprint of cinema’s post millennial anti-hero.
‘Drive‘ recalls the decade of big hair and even bigger mobile phones without overdosing on pastiche, and the movie’s synthpop soundtrack has a modern minimal edge that mimics The Driver’s signature attire.
A slicker and more elegant take on workwear than Chigurh, Gosling’s wardrobe combines a fitted Henley t-shirt, chambray shirt, slim jeans and ‘Bullitt‘ inspired driving gloves to great effect. However, it is the silver satin bomber jacket that steals the show, perfectly proportioned and complete with super-hero style logo in the shape of a golden scorpion.
Gosling’s ‘The Driver’ is a bona fide style icon (though blood stains and tooth picks are optional) and it’s therefore no coincidence that the fitted bomber jacket is one of spring/summer 2013′s must have menswear pieces.
Other well dressed anti-heroes include Dom from Inception, Looper‘s Joe Simmons and The Talented Mr Ripley himself – all are worth closer examination.
Inspiration without imitation is the key to developing your own take on the look, whether it’s integrating vintage or statement pieces, deconstructing Parisian style or experimenting with differing takes on heritage fashion.
Make sure you Let us know who your personal best dressed ‘Anti-Heroes’ are in the comments section below and feel free to suggest films you would like to see us covering within our ‘Celluloid Style’ series moving forward.