artA lot of times, many people think i get my inspiration from reading maagazines and watching celebraties on television, although some of this is true.. what truly inspires me is the Men of the past.. their style, swagger and whose sartorial impact and influence reach way beyond the color of their skin.
Photographer, director, journalist
He was his own Renaissance man: a photographer, film director, journalist. He wore the tools of his trade—like his camera, here—effortlessly, like they were wardrobe accessories. And he's a testament to the power of the trench coat: put one on over a shirt and tie and you can look elegant and be totally comfortable at the same time. He always brought personality to being on the job.
Singer and songwriter
Everyone's wearing denim shirts these days, and I like to think Marvin has something to do with that. This is a true workwear look he's pulling off here—vintage Americana, the stuff everyone's wild for now. He made denim-on-denim cool for us... and I love the way he contrasts it with the red knit hat.
Huey P. Newton
Co-founder and leader of the Black Panther Party
Huey was a rebel in his own right. He and the Black Panthers did all-black-everything way before Jay-Z. They made a hard-hitting style statement without trying too hard, through subversive little twists on the classics: like this white button-down-collar shirt peeking out from under a high-cut black leather blazer.
One of the best soul singers ever, and a loud, passion-driven character. His music screams at you; it's like, wow, this guy was really passionate about turning down the lights and spending time with his girl! His style was really related to that whole psychedelic, '70s vibe, but he'd also go sharp and classic: check out the wide-lapeled, cream-colored suit, the tassel loafers with wingtip details, the way he crosses his legs. And his beard and hair sort of give the whole look a jolt of attitude.
Actor, director, writer
Seeing A Raisin in the Sun, with Sidney as Walter Lee Younger, was a pivotal style moment for us—he was just such a sharp individual. The way he'd tuck his polo shirts into his trousers...sharp. His style was about simplicity, and keeping things clean-cut. And he could pull off an amazing slim suit. I think he was the first black actor who made people think, Wow, this guy is no joke.
He exudes that confidence and swagger that was characteristic of many of his peers on the scene, but puts his own twist on everything that was going on at the time. He's really distinct from everyone on our list, and is the first man who came to mind when we started putting it together. We like that he wasn't always suited up; he'd go casual, playing with scarves, with polo shirts, with khakis. And he evolved over time in a way you just couldn't predict.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Singer, dancer, TV and movie star
A sharp-dressed Rat Pack member, and an all-around stand-up guy. The first African-American to grace GQ's cover. He wore the kind of stuff we'd wear today: slim ties, tailored suit jackets, tapered pants. I love how unguarded and irreverent he is here, tap dancing on his hotel-room table, in a high-cropped one-button gray flannel suit and Beatle boots. He was never afraid to step outside of the box and do things his own way.
Stand-up comedian, actor, writer
He mastered the art of storytelling through comedy; and the guy could make anyone laugh. But what he's wearing here... This is serious stuff! He could've walked off a runway, in 2010. This is exactly the kind of thing I'd wear right now. Interesting how he's wearing the sharply tailored suit with monkstrap shoes, rather than with wingtips or loafers... He's speaking his own language here.
Stand-up comedian; civil rights activist
He was a brilliant comedian, but I think of him more as an icon of 1950s and '60s American style—the width of his tie and lapels and the cut of his suit jacket are all very much of that era... which also means they're very now. And today, as an older gentleman, he's a pro at pattern mixing.
Singer, actor, civil rights activist
He was a calypso singer, and his style really incorporated the Caribbean vibe. He'd do things like leave two or three buttons undone on his dress shirts—laid-back, warm-weather stuff. Here he is in London, wearing a turtleneck under a suede overcoat, with houndstooth pants—amazing. He always put his own unique spin on everything.