Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

Esquire (UK) - - Editor’s Letter - Alex Bilmes

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

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