“The movie star of movie stars who perfected charm and elegance with such ease that he fooled us all into thinking that we could do it, too, as if it was as simple as learning a card trick.” Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style is a book I cherish deeply, because, first, only by revealing Cary’s complex character it made me understand just how he was able to always look impeccable, and second, it inspires you to develop your own personal style.
Richard Torregrossa’s book is part biography, part style guide, completed by well chosen quotes from people in the fashion world, authors and actors who knew Cary Grant well and thus help us get an insightful look not only at the man of style that he was in the way he dressed, but, most importantly, at the man of class that Cary was in every aspect of his life. The author speaks of important stages in CG’s life, revealing his many qualities that made possible his ascent from his home town of Bristol to worldwide stardom and to an iconic status: his determination and hard work regarding his film projects, his modesty, his good manners, his sense of humour and true interest in others, his never ceasing wish to improve himself in everything he did and, of course, his taste and elegance.
“His charm was a force of nature.” Oleg Cassini
As Audrey Hepburn says to him in Charade, as if voicing everybody’s thoughts: “You know what’s wrong with you? Nothing.”
But of course he was not perfect. Far from it. But Cary shrewdly overcame his flaws and transformed them into flawlessness by acknowledging them and by learning to make them work in his favour, developing a sartorial philosophy emulated on his very own persona. No wonder (and a lesson, too, why) he can not be blindly copied by anyone else.
“He inspires me to do the best in everything I do. The secret to his charm was that he was a good listener as well as a good talker. He was genuinly interested in you. You could meet him the next day or the next year, and he could still remember the little things about you.” fashion designer Amir
“I’m sticking with the classics, and if somebody doesn’t like it, I can deal. If you look at Cary Grant’s suits from the thirties, fourties, and fifties, they still look good today. That’s style, not fashion.” Glenn O’Brien, The Style Guy
“I was very fond of Ingrid. She was an amazing woman…She used no makeup, not even lip rouge. Why don’t more actrisses imitate her instead of going the other way? You can tell how secure a woman is by the amount of makeup she wears.” (personal note: Cary, could I quote you on this one everytime I have the chance? And there are so many times I can use it.)
He had an extraordinary interest in clothes all his life. He coplimented many designers on their work, including Ralph Lauren, whose talent he had admired before anybody else did and who became his friend. Grant’s clothes were described by author Tom Wolfe as “all worsteds, broadcloths and silks, all rich and underplayed, like a viola ensemble.”
“Style begins and ends with Cary Grant.” Alan Flusser
photos: taken by me from the book Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style; the book is also the source of this post and of the quotes (the ones uncredited belong to the author), copyright © 2006 Richard Torregrossa
PS: his favourite colour was orange. Would you have imagined?