He’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly well known for his In­sta­gram pho­tos rather than for his words but, with his book Men and Style, jour­nal­ist and au­thor David Cog­gins proves that he is as much of a skilled word­smith as he is a style icon. Plaza Uomo met up with h

Plaza Uomo USA - - CONTENTS - WORDS martin gelin

Plaza Uomo pay a visit to the writer and lead­ing menswear icon David Cog­gins,

WITH ITS col­lec­tion of small rooms, worn leather so­fas, chipped win­dow frames and book shelves filled with first-edi­tion mod­ernist nov­els, David Cog­gins’s apart­ment is typ­i­cal of the old fash­ioned New York style. It is a home that wouldn’t look out of place in Rear Win­dow, Break­fast at Tif­fany’s or any other post-war clas­sic. It is easy to imag­ine a woman in a pretty dress, sit­ting in the win­dow and smok­ing a cig­a­rette.

A mole­skin note­book sits next to a cup of fountain pens on an old desk; the walls are dec­o­rated with wa­ter­colour land­scape paint­ings. The fa­mil­iar tones of Bon­nie Prince Billy’s music stream from a dis­tant speaker.

Renowned for the way he pays homage to the clas­sic look, David Cog­gins fre­quently ap­pears on lists rank­ing New York’s best dressed. The style icon and writer Glenn O’Brien once said of Cog­gins that, be­fore you no­tice the small de­tails, it is easy to mis­take him for a con­ser­va­tive. Re­leased last year, the in­tro­duc­tion of his first book Men and Style reads: ‘Menswear is not com­plex. The things that have worked for the last 80 years still do, with some vari­a­tion.’

“I think I ap­ply the same con­cept to my home as I do to my closet. I like things that feel lived-in, that have a history. I usu­ally de­scribe my in­te­rior style as an English gentle­men’s club where the mem­bers have stopped pay­ing their fees,” Cog­gins says.

A sign declar­ing the owner of the apart­ment block, Gatsby, is sit­u­ated out­side the build­ing. The real­tors are among thou­sands of Amer­i­can firms named af­ter the char­ac­ter in F Scott Fitzger­ald’s fa­mous novel.

“When peo­ple recog­nise me I as­sume they’ve read my work, but they’ve seen me on In­sta­gram.”

Cog­gins thinks the cult around Jay Gatsby, a des­per­ate crim­i­nal who is mis­er­able for most of the book, tends to be a bit shal­low.

“Most peo­ple don’t even re­call how it ends,” he says. “Or any other part of the book for that mat­ter.”

Last year, Cog­gins pub­lished his first book, Men and Style, which re­volves around a dozen in­ter­views with men whose style Cog­gins ad­mires, from Gay Talese, Jay McIn­er­ney, Guy Tre­bay, the film di­rec­tor Whit Still­man, restau­ra­teur Taavo Somer to style icons such as Nick Wooster, Glenn O’Brien and Poggy from Ja­pan. In a se­ries of self-re­veal­ing di­a­logues, the sub­jects share their views on per­sonal style, iden­tity and con­fi­dence.

The ad­vice moves be­tween a play­ful dandy­ism and more clas­si­cally Amer­i­can, mas­cu­line style. Tips of the kind you might have read in Esquire half a decade ago: “Wear a sport jacket to the 21 Club, bring cash to Peter Luger and never or­der a pink cock­tail.” It’s all about fol­low­ing rules and then break­ing them – it’s up to the in­di­vid­ual to find the bal­ance. At its core the book re­flects a fairly demo­cratic at­ti­tude to­wards style and de­sign, with ex­am­ples in­clud­ing Cog­gins de­scrip­tion of how as a young man liv­ing in Tokyo he used to spend many an af­ter­noon in an up­scale depart­ment store where he’d be drool­ing over suits he wasn’t yet able to af­ford. Cog­gins favours “ex­pen­sive cham­pagne and cheap beer”, a life­style that is char­ac­terised by el­e­gance, very rarely elitism.

These days Cog­gins is an es­tab­lished and in­flu­en­tial au­thor and jour­nal­ist who writes about men’s cloth­ing, de­sign, style and trav­el­ling. He’s an en­ter­tain­ing con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist with an in­tense mind­set that is rather typ­i­cal of peo­ple who have lived in New York for some time. In spite of sev­eral books and col­lab­o­ra­tions with pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions such as Drake’s of London, or Free­man’s here in New York, it is his In­sta­gram ac­count that has made him a recog­nis­able face. “Peo­ple of­ten come up to me abroad and say, ‘I recog­nise you from some­where’. And I as­sume that maybe they’ve read my work but most of the time it turns out that they’re re­fer­ring to my In­sta­gram ac­count.”

HIS REV­ER­ENCE for tra­di­tional style and the con­struc­tion process of men’s cloth­ing made him an ob­vi­ous choice for col­lab­o­ra­tion with Drake’s, an English com­pany run by Bri­tish gentle­men who, ac­cord­ing to Cog­gins, are ob­sessed with Italy.

To­gether with Drake’s cre­ative di­rec-

PHOTOGRAPHY alexan­der berg

David Cog­gins pho­tographed in the trat­to­ria Via Carota, David’s favourite restau­rant in the West Vil­lage, Manhattan.

In­te­rior de­tails in Cog­gins’ apart­ment. David Cog­gins in his favourite book­shop Three Lives & Com­pany in the West Vil­lage in Manhattan.

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