sound the fashion klaxon! Dust down your velvet tux, slip on your patent loafers and wave your silk hanky above your satin-hatted head. Because I bring you glad tidings from the world of luxury menswear, where at long last Sir David Robert Joseph Beckham’s immeasurable contribution to the dress sense of our proud nation’s gentlemen has been recognised. Not only recognised, but formalised. Enshrined.
Naturally, as one of Britain’s most avid trouser botherers, I have long thought of Becks as more, much more than the daringly tonsured ex-footballer and formidably chiselled high-vis superdad to which he’s often reduced. To you and Mrs B, he is and will always be Goldenballs. To me, he is the High Priest of Contemporary Cool, the Grand Vizier of Fashion Forwardness, the Sultan of Spraunce, King Metro, Mr Chill.
But these, you’ll be disappointed to learn, are unofficial honorifics. Woundingly, I have just this minute been reminded by the Esquire fact-checkers that that word “Sir” in the first paragraph of this letter is, like the Sultan of Spraunce, a fantasy ennoblement of my own imagining. Let us not dwell overlong — except to say how commendably restrained it was — on the sainted Becks’ reaction to being overlooked in the 2013 New Year’s honours list. “Unless it’s a knighthood, fuck off,” announced our man (allegedly!), dismissing the gong-giving committee (understandably!) as “unappreciative cunts”. Too right, David. Diabolical liberty and no mistake. And while they’re at it, what about the DSO, the VC and the doctorate of philosophy that also seem to have got lost in the post? Oi! British Establishment! Get it sorted, pronto.
Happily, that unpleasant episode with the missing knighthood is but a dim and distant, albeit slightly bitter memory, because in May it was announced, to the sound of trumpets in the Esquire offices, that His Sartorial Eminence has been appointed to the British Fashion Council with the title of Ambassadorial President. (Would Presidential Ambassador have been even better? No, of course it would not. It would have been ridiculous. Leave it. Jog on.)
Real talk: if anyone’s worth an Ambassadorial Presidentship, Becks is worth it. Where would we be without him? What would we be wearing? Imagine the men of the United Kingdom without the neck tats, the D’Artagnan whiskers and the diamond-encrusted tiepins? So beanies off to the best thing to happen to British menswear since Georgie Best. And snap-brim baseball hats aloft to the BFC for finally giving him his due.
But why stop with Becks? There are so many other sportsmen who go above and beyond in the name of athleisure. Spare a thought for Lewis Hamilton — or as I prefer to think of him, Lord Stevenage — another champion of understated contemporary chic. Motorsport’s very own Ali G surely deserves more for his services to Bond Street — the sparkly nose rings, the crucifix pendants, the turbo-charged colour clashes — than an occasional seat in the front row of the Topman show. The campaign starts here: for a more on-trend UK, vote Lewis for Vice-Presidential Ambassador. Sorry, I mean Ambassadorial Vice-President.
It is not, as far as I am aware, an obligation of being a high-profile sports star in 2018 that one must have a dress sense that might be politely likened — except in the case of Lewis H, who as we know is one of the greatest steerers ever — to a car crash. A dawdle through the back pages of this magazine reveals countless photos of professional sportsmen who were dashing and debonair, and even well dressed. We once dedicated most of an issue to a list of the most stylish sportsmen of all time and you could probably count them off in your sleep without my having to list them for you. All together now: Cruyff, Ali, Senna, Namath, Ashe… Perhaps we ought to think of them as Ambassadorial Presidents Emeritus (Dec’d)? I will, even if you don’t.
These men were not fashion plates. They cared about clothes, but their style appeared to be uncontrived, rather than strategised during a consultation with a fashion stylist-cum-personal shopper who might also do for boy band pop stars and TV game show hosts.
Our cover star this month, Roger Federer, is a man of grace and athleticism on the court, and poise and presence off it. As Tim Lewis reflects in his terrific profile of Federer, the Swiss is something more than the greatest player ever to swing a tennis racket. He’s an exemplar of a kind of unflashy masculinity that one encounters all too rarely today, especially in our public figures. If we were looking for tips not on what shoes to wear with which socks, but in how to conduct ourselves, perhaps we might look to Federer. His clothes are mostly unremarkable. It’s everything else about him that makes an impression.
Good sports: Neymar Jr and Lewis Hamilton attend a Tommy Hilfiger party at London Men’s Fashion Week, September 2017
The Editor, having temporarily mislaid his diamond nose stud