AN ARTIST WITH STYLE
Where do you even begin with a style like David Hockney’s: so flamboyant, uninhibited and recognizable? There are plenty of photos to prove it: the young Hockney, the older Hockney. Hockney in England, Los Angeles, Normandy. Hockney painting, posing or just loafing around. All of these images have a common thread.
To understand the style of the artist – a leading light of Pop Art and the man who painted the famed A Bigger Splash – we must travel to Bradford, the dull industrial town of his birth. As a child, David often accompanied his father Kenneth to a local secondhand store, Sykes Vintage, where the family would pick out their ordinary used gray clothing. David was dressed like his four siblings, but even though he looked like them, he had set his sights from an early age on an artist’s life. As a teenager, he attended Bradford College’s School of Art, then went to the Royal College of Art in London. From the ages of 20 to 25, Hockney kept his blond hair very short and wore thin-rimmed black glasses, soft-collared shirts with a black tie, a leather trench coat or an astrakhan coat. It was the calm before the storm, so to speak.
In 1964, aged 27 and well on his way to stardom, Hockney set off to conquer America. Shortly after he got there, on a trip to Iowa City, he came across a pair of round glasses with bold black frames and bought them. They would become his signature eyewear. A few months later, he saw an idiotic ad for women’s hair dye on TV. The slogan promised that “blondes have more fun.” Hockney decided to swap his nondescript light hair for an eye-popping bleached-blond look. It caused such a sensation that Andy Warhol soon decided to copy him. So what if people often got the two of them mixed up at parties over the years!
BLEACHED-BLOND HAIR AND ROUND GLASSES
Inspired by the sun and landscapes of California – as well as its swimming pools – Hockney began to flood his paintings with color. In 1972 he painted Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which sold for €90 million in 2018, making it the most expensive work by a living artist in history. The canvas shows a man swimming, with another man watching from the edge of the pool. The second man is the painter Peter Schlesinger, Hockney’s lover at the time. In real life, Schlesinger often wore a powder-pink jacket, but Hockney painted him in a fuchsia-pink jacket so bright that it was almost fluorescent.
When he was working, Hockney wore rugby shirts, loose cardigans, striped shirts and badly knotted knit ties. To go out, he dressed in boating blazers and polka-dot bow ties. He was flamboyant yet nonchalantly casual. One day in the mid-1970s, Hockney discovered a famous poem by the 17th-century English author Robert Herrick, titled “Delight in Disorder.” In its few lines, Herrick sings the praises of disheveled dressing, with images like “A lawn about the shoulders thrown / Into a fine distraction,” “Ribands to flow confusedly” and “A careless shoe-string.” Herrick concludes the piece like this: “I see a wild civility: / Do more bewitch me, than when art / Is too precise in every part.” After reading the poem, Hockney began wearing mismatched socks.
A photo of the artist from that time shows him seated on a wooden chair dressed in a green and yellow sweater and chinos, his left sock scarlet and the right one purple. The 83-year-old Englishman was recently photographed in Normandy, where he has lived for the past two years, in an almost identical outfit, with a flat cap on his head as a bonus. His style has never changed because his raison d’être has never changed: “Throughout my life,” Hockney told The Guardian in 2015, “I’ve done everything I can to forget the drabness and gloominess of my childhood.”
Here, the paint splashes on the pants make all the difference. ■ A good opportunity to remind you that stains which won't go away despite numerous launderings can be displayed with pride, but only if they're authentic and natural. ■ We find this beautiful shirt collar especially beguiling and fantasize about how it will look in years to come after many launderings.
This outfit was inspired by an image of Hockney in A Bigger Splash, a documentary that followed him from 1971 to 1973.
Shirt, HUSBANDS. Pants, ‘60s. Sneakers, ‘70s, CONVERSE.
The Fair Isle vest is obviously not the most contemporary of garments. To shake it up a bit, we generally recommend that you pair it with a T-shirt. ■ Wearing it over a shirt, as shown here, isn’t impossible, but it does require a lot of attitude. Give it a shot if you’re a bit of a risk-taker.
This outfit was inspired by a photo of Hockney taken in 1970 (for U.S. Vogue).
Vest, RALPH LAUREN. Shirt, JAKE'S LONDON.
Teaming a polo shirt with a sweatshirt is so uncomplicated that, here, it’s just about making sure the two collars work well together in a suitably nonchalant way. ■ If the polo-shirt collar is tucked flat inside the sweatshirt, it looks deadly dull. If it’s neatly turned up, as if standing to attention – well, that’s even worse. It’s such a fine balance to strike that many men prefer the safer option of sticking to a T-shirt underneath. ■But be brave, give it a try and send us a photo: if you manage to make your two collars look right, you’ll win a lifetime subscription to the magazine. And it will be well deserved.
This outfit was inspired by a photo of Hockney taken in 1988.
Polo, POLO RALPH LAUREN. Sweatshirt, ’80s.
To carry off a shawl-collar cardigan with a shirt and tie, you’re going to need a serious amount of attitude, along with a practiced nonchalance verging on carelessness. ■ You might just get away with it, if you’re an artist.
This outfit was inspired by a photo of Hockney taken in 1978.
Shirt, HARTFORD. Cardigan, ANDERSON & SHEPPARD. Pants, ’30s. Tie, HUSBANDS. Socks, WIGWAM. Sneakers, ’80s, ADIDAS. Glasses, LESCA.
If this image doesn’t make you want to get your paintbrushes out right away and accidentally, very casually, get some paint splashes on your clothes – well, we just don’t understand anymore. ■A sort of cross between a sweatshirt and a T-shirt, the short-sleeve sweatshirt is a garment well worth exploring. But good luck with finding one, either new or vintage
This outfit was inspired by a photo of Hockney taken in 1983.
Sweatshirt, ’60s. Pants, ’70s. Shoes, DINGO. Ring, ARTHUS BERTRAND.
We’ve been heavily into this particular shade of green for some time now – because it’s so easy to wear in different garments and different types of outfits. ■ Here, it’s a natural choice for a bigcollared shirt that’s left generously unbuttoned, a bit wrinkled and disheveled-looking – basically, the ideal summer shirt. ■ Purple suede footwear? On paper, it sounds like a hard sell. But, as you can see, real life often throws up some mighty fine surprises.
This outfit was inspired by a photo of David Hockney taken in 1972.
Shirt, SWANN & OSCAR. Pants, HUSBANDS. Glasses, LESCA. Necklace, DARY’S. Watch, ’80s, CARTIER. Slippers, CHARVET.
All vintage pieces from this serie are from LE VIF.