I’ve always worn men’s suit jackets. In high school I bought them at thrift stores, rolled the sleeves up, and that was that. I am tall, I have broad shoulders, men’s clothes suit me (sorry for the pun). And I am cantankerous. When I woke up this morning I told Michael von Braithwaite this story: recently I was in Amsterdam with my friend, film editor Hannah Neufeld. We were having dinner and the waiter brought me an unidentifiable-cookie-pastry-thing that I hadn’t ordered, and I looked at it and exclaimed “What the fuck is that?!”
Why would I react like that? I am one of the old men on The Muppets. Hannah, bless her soul, told me she found it endearing, that she wanted to place odd, small things in front of me just to hear me exclaim, “What the fuck is that?!”But, that’s the thing about cantankerous old men, there is something endearing about them. I love them! I relate. And they always look great.
When I grew out of my thrift store phase and was living in LA, I admired a belt that my friend was wearing and she said her friend Anthony Malat had made it for her. Anthony Malat.
I had him make me a belt and then, upon seeing his menswear designs, I decided that I would ask him to tailor a suit jacket for me.
At least I remember asking him; he recalls that it was more of a demand (early signs of my cantankerousness). I saw him today and inquired about our first meeting. He remembered it like this:
“When you first contacted me you didn’t really ask me if I would make you something, you just kind of said, ‘I want you to make this thing.’ It was much more of a statement than it was a question. We hadn’t even met until I dropped your belts off and then you said you wanted a jacket and we noticed that we were basically the same size. Then that became something that was interesting.”
I’ve since had Anthony make a vest and suit pants for me as well (he is so similar in size to me that he can serve as my fit model if I am not around! If that doesn’t say I should be wearing men’s clothes, I don’t know what does).
Malat goes on to say, “I’ve never really been interested in making clothes for women. The whole reason I started making things– I have always made things because I felt there was a lack of it in my world. Having a shoemaker as a grandfather, you just learn that you can do it.
When I bought my first car, it was a 1972 Dodge Dart. It had a 400-page-thick owners manual with it.”
“I took it to the mechanic once, and they tried to rip me off, and I never went again. I just learned how to fix the car.”
So what’s missing in menswear? “I felt that there wasn’t anything that was old-fashioned without looking vintage. I’ve always wanted to look timeless. I always wanted to be frozen in time. Old men look timeless. They have found a way over the years to have things that they can keep forever. It doesn’t work that way with women. If you dress like an old woman, you have pearls, or a Chanel jacket–there are certain specific things, but if you dress the way an old man dresses, it’s not a time period. It could be any era. That was something that I always loved.”
Special thanks to Nancy Spero and Patti Smith.