Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What I Wore Fifteen Years Ago: the Denim Shirt

Here’s what I’m copping to: what I wore 15 years ago was a comfy blue denim shirt from Land's End. And one from Polo. And one from J. Crew. And Ruff Hewn. Paired with khaki chinos on a Friday, they were everyone’s idea of “business casual”. What is inapparent to all but the Honoluluan readership is that a denim shirt is way too formal for this city, even when the sleeves are rolled up. You see, the Aloha Shirt, is more than acceptable five days a week here, but I was unwilling to accept that until, oh, 14 years ago. I know you don’t believe me but not all Aloha Shirts are of the laughable variety, either. Now I know better.

If one had to temporarily be someone else, one could do far worse than Alain de Cadenet. Despite the fact that, as far as I can see, all he ever wears – other than racing togs – is a denim shirt and pleated chinos, even to this day (14 years after the fall of the style, in my book). There isn’t much said about Mr. de Cadenet on wikipedia and IMDB. I didn’t even know whether he was a bachelor, a OnceABachelor, or a OnceAOnceABachelor until I looked it up (he’s a OnceAOnceA). But it sure looks like it would be fun to be him for a while.

Here’s what I know about him: former Brit race car driver; collector and flier of vintage aircraft (including a WWII Spitfire); father of Amanda de Cadenet (think a 90s UK Paris Hilton); owner of an Omega Speedmaster; wearer of trad racing goggles. His current gig is to appear on various High-Def TV broadcasts to sing the praises of different classic cars, including broadcasts of the Goodwood Revival vintage car races.

His greatest run is as the host of a series on Speed Channel called Victory by Design, in which Mr. de Cadenet spends a whole season sampling all (yes all) the cars from the world’s great racing marques. Ferrari. Porsche. Maserati. Aston Martin. Lotus. Jaguar. Alfa. Ford. These hour long episodes are automotive pornography, really, featuring Mr. de Cadenet at the wheel of priceless collectible sports cars. Above is the money shot for the Jaguar XK120, sashaying around British country B roads, lovingly filmed, engines roaring. Interspersed with his barely-contained enthusiasm for the subject, and a depth of knowledge steeped in history, engineering, and even styling, this is hardly your typical NASCAR documentary about how moonshining and bootlegging gave way to oval tracking. I have the Porsche and Ferrari episodes on DVD and they are wonderful.

So he may be a decade and a half out of style in his denim shirt and Dockers, even when he’s wearing a leather A-2 and goggles, but Mr. de Cadenet’s definitely got a good gig going.

Oh, and his son's name is Bruiser.

1 comment:

M.Lane said...

Fantastic post. I would be him with the shirts and all. I think I would not go for Bruiser for my son's name though.