David Armstrong Full Interview
Here’s our full interview of the late David Armstrong published in the last issue of 10 Men. The photographic great was one of the 24 men who we quizzed about style. Here Armstrong tells us about his sartorial turn-ons, his out-for-a-pint-of-milk-look and his thoughts on the current state of menswear:
What are you wearing?
“All ecru – linen blazer by Ralph Lauren. Linen pleated trousers – Perry Ellis vintage. Flannel shirt by Adam Kimmel. Leather boxing sneakers.”
How about what’s not visible?
“Cologne – Caron Pour un Homme. Dep hair gel – Super Hold, number 8. Boxers by Brooks Brothers.”
What’s your greatest fashion luxury?
“Short, tiered rows of ivory tulle plissé that you sometimes find as the long slim skirt of a 1930s evening gown.”
Are you a carry-on or excess-baggage kind of man?
“Excess to the max, doll, especially on a return trip – always smart to include extra luggage on the way there for that very reason.”
What’s your biggest sartorial turn-on?
“White batiste sailor suits, knee socks and white bucks on adolescent boys.”
How do you dress to impress?
“With as much ease as is humanly possible. It depends on who you’re trying to impress, which is always a bad place to start, no doubt. If for some reason I feel I must, it inevitably involves raiding my best friend James Oakley’s dressing room.”
What’s your hangover/out-for-a-pint-of-milk look?
“‘Camouflage dressing’ is what Jackie Curtis used to call it. Cover as much as possible – your largest, darkest shades a must, hats help and scarves. Lately I’ve been considering veils and, above all, don’t let them see you sweat. Still, the shame lives on. If at all possible, avoid leaving the house altogether. No doubt a situation where interns and assistants are a godsend, no?”
Are you, or have you ever been, part of a scene?
“Ever and always, yes for better or worse, that’s the case, don’t know why that seems so regrettable now. The events in my life requiring courage and affording me a glimpse of where the meanings are all solo affairs. I’m proud of that, if of nothing else. Perhaps that’s why.”
What do you love about menswear today?
“Nothing I can think of. I really don’t keep a close eye on it.”
What’s missing from menswear today?
“Chic or style or any kind of confidence on the part of the wearers. Maybe all we need is a few good men. Haven’t seen anyone in spats for a while; I miss that. All this mess started in the late 1970s, with the puerile notion that a lifestyle could fill in for a life. Where it’s gotten to by now is too frightening to even contemplate.”
Are you part of the zeitgeist?
“Blessedly no, and haven’t been, I don’t think, since the era of gaslights and horsehair sofas.”
What’s your earliest memory or concept of style?
“Photo ads of women in huge crinoline-skirted strapless evening gowns hailing cabs somewhere in the vicinity of Bergdorf’s. They were in Life and Look and all the major mags in the 1950s. Usually Modess ads. Whatever that was to my three-year-old self. Even then, though, I remember thinking how divine.”
Who’s your ultimate style icon?
The true measure of a man is?
“An ability to deal with adversity, whether he prevails or not, without self-pity or loss of compassion.”
Photographer: Ben Grieme
Text and compiled by Vincent Levy
By Ted Stansfield