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Kanye West

November 26, 2013

Kanye West by Tommy Ton

Nine out of ten menswear bloggers agree: Tommy Ton is the reigning king of street-style photography. Whether he’s snapping Nick Wooster or our friend Bruce Pask (or the world’s most fetching female models, for that matter), the soft-spoken sharpshooter has a knack for bringing out each subject’s most supremely photogenic potential—in a candid fraction of a second.

The same holds true when Mr. Ton sits front-row at a theatrical Kanye West concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. (If you enjoyed Ton’s photos from West’s previous tour, you’re in for a treat.) Read on for more of our favorite shots.

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French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director Serge Gainsbourg was kind of like the Kanye West of his time—you know, a creative genius. A jack of many trades. A genre-hopping musician, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. His lyrics utilized styles of wordplay that would make most rappers (and even self-described word-nerd copy editors—we checked) scratch their heads. (Mondegreen? Spoonerism? Check Gainsbourg’s Wikipedia page for definitions.)

Gainsbourg also managed to sweep some of the best-known bombshells of the 1960s and ’70s off their feet. Check out his 1968 ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ duet with then-ladyfriend Brigitte Bardot above, for example. The song is based on a poem entitled The Trail’s End, written by Bonnie Parker herself just weeks before her Depression-era crime spree with Clyde Barrow came to a grisly end. Gainsbourg’s apparent fascination with American culture is interesting—especially as we find ourselves paying homage to all things French, with our limited-time French Fling Pop-In Shop. (And, as Monsieur West is zealously requesting croissants and collab’ing with minimalist French label A.P.C.)

Below, find some favorite photos of Gainsbourg and guests—all via the essential repository for all things vintage and jaw-dropping: The Impossible Cool.


Perhaps he was not classically handsome. And legend has it that he passed out drunk after taking Jane Birkin to some questionable venues on their first date. But what Gainsbourg lacked in other areas, he made up for in his keen ability to wear a suit like he was born in it. Check out those fitted shoulders, wide lapels, and devil-may-care shirt collar.


Brigitte Bardot, Gainsbourg’s partner in crime in the song above, cleaned up pretty nice, too.


…But who wore it best? Invented in England, perfected by the French—Gainsbourg makes a trench coat look almost as good as Bardot. Note his expert use of accessories: gloves, smoke, icy stare.


Not a bad run: After breaking up with Bardot, Gainsbourg rebounded with English singer/actress Jane Birkin—but’s that’s a whole other story. Here, he rocks the “jacket-as-cape” look about 40 years before the current crop of street-style stars attempted it.

 

SHOP: FRENCH FLING POP-IN SHOP
READ MORE: FRENCH-THEMED ARTICLES

You know that ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ theory, wherein everyone knows someone who knows someone (and so on) who’s famous? Well, here at Nordstrom HQ, we’re lucky enough to be one degree from some quasi-famous and ridiculously talented people. (Not Kevin Bacon—but pretty close.)

One of them is Sonya Westcott, a key member of our Web Development team and also an amazing musician (that’s the back of her head on the right). After playing bass in Rogue Wave (yes, that Rogue Wave) for a while early on, she co-founded ‘psychedelic folk-rock’ duo Arthur & Yu (picked up by Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman’s then-new label Hardly Art). Sonya’s latest music project, We Are Loud Whispers, came together seemingly miraculously—across the Pacific Ocean, via e-mail, with Japan-based collaborator Ayumu Haitani.


To say we’re impressed with the duo’s new record is an understatement—especially considering it was written, arranged, and put on wax without the two setting foot in the same room (let alone on the same continent). We’re equally impressed with Sonya’s wide-ranging, sometimes abrasive (in the best possible way) taste in music. She was kind enough to share 5 of her recent favorite albums with us below.

 
Metz - Metz
“Anyone who is a fan of punk, post-hardcore, whatever you want to call it, will love this band. It’s loud, it’s heavy—definitely turned up to 11. They put on a great show. I saw them at Barboza here in Seattle.”

 
Room 237 - [Soundtrack]
“This is the musical score to a really great documentary about one of my favorite films of all time, The Shining—so as you might imagine, it’s eerie and dark, yet campy at times. Amazing use of synth sounds reminiscent of what you would hear watching zombie films from the late ’70s and early ’80s.”

 
Matthew E. White - Big Inner
“Honestly, you just need to listen to it in its entirety. It’s that good. If you’re a fan of the soulful, funky bands of the ’70s—horns, strings, smooth-as-velvet vocals—you won’t be disappointed.”

 
Kid Cudi - Indicud
“I really like the song ‘Young Lady,’ for the clever/cheeky sampling of ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ by Father John Misty. It’s not entirely work-appropriate, though, so I’ll suggest ‘Red Eye,’ featuring LA all-girl band Haim.”
[Ed. note: It's not on Indicud, but the Kanye West song 'Guilt Trip,' with vocals by Kid Cudi, is one of our favorite tracks on Yeezus.]


Savages - Silence Yourself
“This amazingly talented band from London sounds like what might have happened if Joy Division was fronted by Siouxsie Sioux.”

 
 

[Intro photo by Charlie Schuck. We Are Loud Whispers songs © Hardly Art Records. Metz songs © Sub Pop Records. Room 237 Soundtrack by Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, under exclusive license to Milan Entertainment Inc. Matthew E. White songs © Domino Recording Company. Kid Cudi song © Wicked Awesome, GOOD Music and Republic Records. Kanye West song © Def Jam Records. Savages songs © Matador Records. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

Kanye West has been compared to Pink Floyd, Steve Jobs, and even Mozart. (That last article drew a lot of fire in its comments section, of course…as well as a few lucid arguments from music majors who backed their opinions up with historical facts and classical theory.)

Whatever you think about the man and his music, you have to admit that he’s been influential—in pop culture at large, as well as in the realm of menswear. GQ ran a retrospective on West’s style today, which points pretty clearly to the fact that (ethical qualms with floor-length fur aside) the rapper/producer’s present-day wardrobe choices are his wisest, and most relevant to the rest of us, to date.

See above. West’s tough, monochromatic minimalism seems right in step with the bluntly reduced electro thump of his new album, Yeezus, out today. In his recent NY Times interview, West says a lamp by minimalist architect/designer Le Corbusier changed his entire point of view. He also says it takes him a fraction of the time to get dressed these days—proving what we’ve known for a while now: Throw on a leather jacket with anything, from a T-shirt to a tie, and you’re good to go.

[We're not saying West did or would wear these particular jackets; but if you'd like to recreate his minimalist MOTO look, start here. Pierre Balmain | A.P.C. | Just Cavalli]

The image up top is from West’s performance on Saturday Night Live last month—one of the darkest, most jarring, and most fascinating things that’s happened on that show maybe ever. (Well, there was this.) We can’t exactly show the video here, but if you can handle some controversial political topics, click here.

Here’s a few more live music performances, some from Kanye, some from SNL, and some from 20+ years ago, whose style tips you can take to heart today:


West and Jay-Z performing their Watch the Throne single ‘Otis’ at the MTV Video Music Awards. Kanye reps DENIM ON DENIM, with a touch of AMERICANA in the form of a hanky in his back pocket. (Oh yeah, and the giant US flag-inspired backdrop, designed by Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci as part of the duo’s album art.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaOkhAs6LMA
At his previous SNL appearance, performing ‘Runaway’ off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West definitely got our memo on BOLD BLAZERS (or, maybe, it was the other way around).

 
Kanye West famously wore a women’s blouse by Céline at Coachella a couple years ago. Bold move—and we won’t fault him for it. For the rest of us though, vintage grunge heroes like Pearl Jam, promo’ing and dress-rehearsing for SNL in 1992, are probably better role models for summer FESTIVAL STYLE.


Meanwhile, for more BOLD COLOR (colour?), surf-inspired gear, tank tops, high tops and wildly printed pants, Living Colour in 1989 take the cake. (OK, fine, we just like this song.)

 
 

[Intro image via Gorilla Vs. Bear. Video clips © NBC and MTV. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

The Met Gala is a high-profile party in NYC that marks the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fashion-related exhibit at the Costume Institute.

It also produces a red-carpet spectacle that, whereas other red carpets engender class and decorum, encourages celebrities to dress and act as zany as possible.

The theme of this year’s Met exhibit is Punk: Chaos to Couture (check out coverage on our women’s blog). The first favorable outcome of this auspicious motif was a series of fashion films from event sponsor Vogue. Dubbed Punk Stories, they included British model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne displaying her patented mix of good humor and bad attitude (above) and Ukrainian-Canadian bombshell Daria Werbowy, barely recognizable (but still stunning) in a bleached buzz-cut and various other punk-inspired transformations (below).

Then, there’s the wild red carpet and ensuing after-parties. We’re no fashion police when it comes to womenswear—but we know what we like. Here are the ladies (and a couple men) we thought went the most “punk rock” at Monday night’s Met Gala:


Nicole Richie spray-painted her coif grey for the night (and rocked some high-end Topshop).


Alexa Chung wasn’t afraid to push Gerard Butler around.


Kelly Osbourne, Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora—you guys look great, but Miley Cyrus, of all people, was the one who hit the punk-rock nail on the head.


Taylor Tomasi Hill of Marie Claire donned some serious spikes—and while Thom Browne didn’t exactly wear his punk-rock spirit on his sleeve, we know he has it in him.


We’re not sure about the blue faux-hawk, but Zachary Quinto’s eyebrow game, as usual, was on-point.


Rooney Mara’s attire for the evening wasn’t overtly punk—but if her anti-establishment Girl with the Dragon Tattoo character is permanently burned into your brain, like it is ours, you’ll agree that she’d look pretty tough even in a bathrobe and bunny slippers.


Kanye West performed, in his now-signature punk-inspired Givenchy gear.


Anne Hathaway went bleach-blonde, reportedly just for the night. For a girl-next-door type like her, that’s punk-rock enough to fit the theme in our book.


And then, there was the part where Jennifer Lawrence photo-bombed Sarah Jessica Parker. But Lawrence acts crazy even at the Oscars and on live TV, so “punking” SJP is par for the course. (Note Marion Cotillard and Lena Dunham cracking up in the background.)

 

For more punk-inspired fashion, go inside the Met’s exhibit
on our sister blog, The Thread.

 
 

[Photos and videos via Vogue.com, except for Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence via NYmag.com. Still photos by Pablo Frisk, except Cyrus and co. by Taylor Jewell, Kanye West by Kevin Tachman, Hathaway by Larry Busacca. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

Do your best to ignore the souped-up Rolls Royces, the gyrating flappers, the sinister-sounding Kanye West / Jay-Z / Frank Ocean beat (which would have been infinitely cooler here if a handful of mediocre action flicks didn’t already use it), the hypnotic visual overload director Baz Luhrmann made famous in 1996′s amped-up Romeo & Juliet remix—and even try to look past Carey Mulligan’s beauty mark, if at all humanly possible.

Instead, feast your eyes on the impeccable menswear Great Gatsby costume designer Catherine Martin created in collaboration with 195-year-old American institution Brooks Brothers. Delving into the brand’s archives, Martin nailed every detail—from straw boater to gold collar pin to powder-pink peak lapel.

Watch a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary on the film’s costume design here, and catch The Great Gatsby in theaters May 10.

 

SHOP: BROOKS BROTHERS

…And for more sartorial inspiration for the season ahead,
check out our new Summer Suiting Guide.

 
 
 

[Trailer courtesy of Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Pictures. Still images are captures from the Brooks Brothers video about the film's costume design. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

Crystal Nicodemus, our very own street-style photographer, is in Paris as we speak—roaming alleyways, lurking outside shows, and generally on the prowl for the crème de la menswear crème during Paris Men’s Fashion Week. She caught so many iconic moments (including exclusive pics of Kanye West, Scott Schuman, Tommy Ton and more) that it was near impossible to edit down to a favorite few. Here’s a cavalcade of sartorial inspiration; stay tuned for even more from Crystal’s Paris trip in the days to come.



Shop: Denim Jackets | Sweatpants | All Things Camel
Trench Coats | Boots | Black Jeans




Austin Wong (in grey herringbone) wearing Thom Browne,
alongside expert lensman Tommy Ton (in orange).


Shop: Pink Socks | Peacoats



Scott Schuman: The Sartorialist himself.




From top: Creative proportions. (Shop: Bomber Jackets)
Bad Boy for life. (Shop: Backpacks)
Americana in Paris. (Shop: Wingtips | Scarves)


Another glimpse of Kanye West between shows.




From top—Shop: Sneakers | Sweaters | Leather Jackets

 

 

[All photos by Crystal Nicodemus. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

Our Ultimate Coat Guide is all-new this week, with a fresh batch of cold-weather lifesavers.

Though the guide is stocked with a range of outerwear from uptown overcoats to summit-ready mountain gear, we were inspired by the year-round versatility, and all-around badness*, of a leather jacket.

Throw one on over a T-shirt and jeans in warmer months, and you’re basically Marlon Brando. Fast-forward 30 years, grab a guitar, and you’re Joe Strummer. Add a rebel streak to your shirt and tie with a trim-fitting leather jacket, and you’re straight out of GQ.

When it comes to braving colder months, it’s a simple question of creative layering. If you like your leather to fit trim and streamlined, like the Italian-made bomber above, underpin it with a toasty thermal or cashmere sweater, then add a scarf, hat and/or gloves on top. If you opt for a looser-fitting fatigue style, like the caramel-colored number below, you can get more creative with chunky knits underneath—we even saw a member of our visual merchandising team sport a denim jacket under his leather coat just yesterday.

Check out a few more favorites below, then shop our full selection of leather jackets.

Scotch & Soda | Diesel | Zegna Sport

*Speaking of badness: Did you catch Spike Lee’s 25th-anniversary special on Michael Jackson’s Bad last week, in which Kanye West confirms that Jackson’s black leathers in the 1987 Martin Scorsese-directed short film (Part 1 | Part 2) still influence his stage wardrobe to this day? Check out the trailer.

SHOP: ALL LEATHER JACKETS | THE ULTIMATE COAT GUIDE

Mummy Kanye West. In a song lyric, the exact phrasing of which we can’t repeat here, West once inquired as to whether listeners have had romantic inclinations toward a Pharaoh. Well, we all know what’s under that tough, 24-karat-gold exterior: a well-rested mummy, limping around and moaning “Haaaaaanh?!” between witty verses. Start with a handy, Halloween-themed Morphsuit (toilet paper will suffice in a pinch, and you can prank your neighbor’s house with the leftovers). Layer on all-black biker gear—it’s safe to say Kanye and co. have transitioned out of the prep phase and into a goth-ninja motif. Finish with a back pain-inducing chain in the likeness of an Egyptian god, and you’re ready to hit tonight’s Halloween parties. Lambo optional—but try not to pull up in a Taurus.

7 For All Mankind Jeans | Replica Horus Chain | Obey Biker Jacket
T by Alexander Wang Muscle T-Shirt | Mummy Morphsuit | Gucci High-Tops

 

Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer is available on iTunes.

The exhibit Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs
is at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center through January 6, 2013. 

More costume ideas: Dexter x Jell-O Shots | Zombie Ryan Gosling | White-Tie Vampire

 
— — —
 

[Note: Our intention is not to imply that Kanye West has worn the exact items suggested; this is simply one way readers at home can emulate the look above. Images: Video still via rapfix.mtv.com, from the song 'Mercy,' by Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, from the album Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer, © 2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group. 'The Golden Mask of Psusennes I' by Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press. Horus Chain courtesy of Freshness Mag. Mummy suit courtesy of Party City. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]