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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Frank Sinatra: My 'Very Mr Porter' Icon

Mr Frank Sinatra first entered my consciousness when I was about 10 years old. Visiting my Grandparents in rural Scotland was a weekly occurrence as a child and one never-ending Saturday afternoon, I sneaked into the attic to have a rummage. Behind a wrack of coats, under a box of Christmas decorations, I discovered Mr Sinatra. Though slightly worn and dusty, his image seemed just as vibrant as I'm sure it was the day it was sold in that record store. I picked up the first record in the huge stack and realised the full extent of Grandpa's Sinatra fascination. Each record below in the mile-high stack was printed with the face of a handsome American man wearing a trilby. I grabbed a pile and was taken on a musical journey from 1946 to 1994 in one weekend.

Since discovering his records, I've grown to appreciate more than just his music. Frank may have been a superb vocalist but he was also a master of image. He understood the power iconography and in the era of Marilyn, the Cadillac and household television, America made it's impression on the world with a new leader – Mr Sinatra.

A decade after setting the first needle on a 1954 pressing of Grandpa's 'Swing Easy!', I found myself in Sinatra's hometown of New York. New York City! So good they named it twice. It takes a while to acclimatise to a new culture, a new life and it wasn't until I'd been living there for a good 6 months that I began to feel truly at home. I found my coffee spot, I found my favourite park. I knew which bus would take me uptown quickest and I made my first true friends. It was on a crisp, cool N.Y.C. St Patrick's Day, that these new comrades showed me how to celebrate the Irish-American way. No pint down the pub, this was to be a night to remember. After the parade, dinner and drinks, midnight struck and I found myself in what New Yorker's call a 'dive bar'. We were Downtown and I looked across the bar as an old dude with rockabilly quiff and creepers stumbled over to jukebox. Quarter out, button pressed - the brass section began.

“Start spreading the news.”

My eyes darted back to my new Irish besties.

“I'm leaving today.”

Just as I thought the night couldn't get any better, we clambered to our feet, embraced each other and joined a room filled with locals for a night-time rendition of “New York, New York” by the one of only Frank Sinatra. The thing about my time in the city was, I constantly felt like a character in a movie, and this dive bar experience was a pivotal scene. Frank allowed me to let go and embrace the unknown, in a strange way I finally felt at home.

It's for these reasons that the Very Mr Porter icons have struck a chord with me. The three powerful characters (James Dean, Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali) have changed the way men dress, with each new generation discovering a unique style for themselves. As my interest in vintage menswear peaked, Sinatra became a clear source of inspiration. Contemporary cuts just don't have the same finesse and power as suits from the 50s. Wide legs, high waist and strong lapels; that's what I'm looking for. 

There's a huge pool of stylistic inspiration to take from Sinatra. It may seem like he was never without a suit but in actuality he was also a big fan American leisurewear. Sports slacks, a simple white tee and a flatcap were staples and although history has re-written him as smarter than smart, a bit of digging will prove otherwise.

Whether it's the way he sips his whisky, the angle of his hat or the smooth power of his voice, Frank Sinatra will always be a style inspiration for me, leaving no doubt in my mind why he's been selected as #veryMRPORTER. 

Starting October 25, you'll have a chance to dress like Mr Sinatra yourself by winning £1000 to spend on Share an image on Instagram of something that's #veryMRPORTER to you and you could win a modern day style icon’s wardrobe. See the full feature in the Mr Porter Journal on Frank Sinatra here, written by Mr Dan Rookwood.