Friday, September 16, 2011

Sharp Stylings #8: Raymond Hawkey

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

Let's spend some time today diggin' on Raymond Hawkey (circa 1970) cold loungin' on a Saarinen chair and table.  First off, like I've said before, guys into Mod style should NEVER be afraid of color. Here, he beautifully blends the muted blue shirt with a fantastic muted earth-tone tie which also includes baby blue stripes to match the shirt. The lavendar/blue pocket square brings it all together in a nice package wrapped up in a dark suit with clean, thin lapels and nice slim pants! Just a beautiful combination all around, including his cufflinks, which you can see in a B&W photo from this session in the new Brian Duffy photography book. The way he's put this whole outfit together, you'd think he had the eye of a graphic designer. Oh, wait! I almost forgot... this is Raymond Hawkey we're talking about... one of the most influential mid-century graphic designers!

Hawkey is most known for how he helped revolutionize book cover design, not to mention graphic design in general, in the late 1950s/early 1960s. By blending sans serif typography with photographic elements (something not done at the time), he helped create a visual style that still lasts to this day. I'm sure many Mod-oriented graphic designers today would recognize the influence of his style on their work.

The first book design to hit the public's eyes was the cover to Len Deighton's The IPCRESS File, which was considered shocking at the time:
Some other Hawkey designs include covers to subsequent Leighton books along with those featuring most people's favorite super-suave spy:

Raymond Hawkey passed away last year at the age of 80. And from the obituaries I've read, he remained dapper and well-dressed until the end. According to the Guardian, he never owned jeans or trainers. Heck, I wish I could make the same claim! But one thing I can learn from Hawkey, aside from his great designs, is that you don't let age get in the way of looking sharp.



  1. Another informative post! I never knew of this gentleman until now.

    The photo brings up a menswear question that I often ponder: When is it appropriate to wear slip-on shoes and when is it not? I thought with a suit you generally should wear lace up dress shoes, while loafers are suitable with most everything more casual, like slacks and a sport coat. I think the buckled slip-ons work work well with this look but brown shoes work a little better with a blue suit than black in my opinion.

  2. Thanks to both of you!

    Y'know, I know there's a 'rule' about slip-ons and suits and I'd be curious to hear Nick Rossi's take on it. Personally, I've never felt comfortable in slip-ons and a full 2/3-piece suit. Slip-ons are a more casual shoe in my personal opinion. That said, I don't mind them if you're wearing slacks with a separate sport coat and even a tie. I'd totally do it!

    Also, I agree with you... the only thing preventing this photo from hitting perfection is the lack of brown shoes. And can I be honest with you? For years, I wasn't into brown shoes on me personally. Weird, huh? Now, I feel totally lacking in them since they're so much more versatile!

  3. Did I hear my name? I don't know the hard-and-fast rule regarding slip-ons/laces/suits, but here is my take. In general I prefer to wear lace up shoes if I am wearing a suit and tie. I seldom wear a suit an no tie, but if I did a fancier slip on such as these monk straps Hawkey is wearing is perfect choice in my estimation. In short, I agree with both of you gentlemen.

    That said, I love exceptions to these rules such as that mid-50s photo of William Holden I posted a few weeks back where he is wearing a suit, tie, and Weejuns. It's a daytime shot though, which I think should be taken into consideration.

    I do disagree slightly on the topic of shoe color. I still prefer black shoes with blue suits. The only fault I really can find in the photo is his socks. I can dig sheer men's hosiery, but with all of the other color options for him to work with in his tie and pocket square (or the seat cushion for that matter!), it's a missed opportunity that doesn't flatter his shoes or trouser legs. Great design work though!

  4. As someone who more than dabbles in Graphic Design, I'm embarrassed that I was not aware of this chap (and that I had to spell check the word embarrassed). I love the tie. I would personally very much enjoy rocking this outfit sans the handkerchief and the duck tail.

    A great post, MM.

    And for my 2 cents; I love the monotone look of the black shoes with the dark blue suit, leaving the whole outfit in essence a frame for the shirt and tie. Brown shoes might add a certain playfulness Hawkey would rather not convey.

  5. The only thing that sucks about blogspot is that I can't 'LIKE' responses because these are great responses!

    Interesting on both your takes on the use of black shoes. Like I said before, I'm a recent convert to brown shoes, but I still wear black the vast majority of the time, even with a blue outfit.

    And yeah, a pair of socks in a darker shade of one of the tie colors would have been great!