Gentle reader,

After six consecutive weeks of talking about what the ladies could be wearing from now until next winter, I thought it might be time to think about the guys again and, more specifically, a guy that is very close to my heart: Me!

There was a time not so long ago when I thought my style was pretty settled, happily guided along each season by the slight changes to the distressed rocker chic of Christophe Decarnin’s collections for Balmain Homme.  Sure, that shit was expensive but I never had to get the entire look from them since it was easy, for instance, to change out the $1,700 Balmain motorcycle jeans in favor of Zara’s less conspicuous $50 ones and I already had a mountain of great jackets.

The important thing was that the aesthetic evolved gradually without zigzagging violently from season to season and—okay, this is really the important part—it looked really cool.  Then that bastard Decarnain had to go and have a nervous breakdown, leaving some hottie upstart to take the line in a direction that involved Cuban safaris and lawn furniture or something.  I’ve still clung to my uniform of a tailored blazer over a well-washed T-shirt, skinny jeans and boots but with no new inspiration, it’s started to feel a bit stale.

In addition to that, the direction of the design house that I work for has gone very clean and rather “preppy” this season and I have to admit that the look probably suits my personality better than my jaded rocker wardrobe, especially when you consider that I usually like to be home by 10pm and can’t stand to have dirty dishes in the sink.  With all that swirling around in my head, I may have stumbled upon the perfect solution when I walked over to Brunello Cucinelli’s tiny boutique in Beverly Hills yesterday and tried on a simple looking pair of tan cotton trousers.  They are the perfect slimness, already casually rolled at the ankle and come in several faded colors of slightly stretchy, heavenly cotton.  I’m now officially obsessed.

Brunello Cucinelli Beverly Hills

Founded in the mid-1980s in the tiny medieval village of Solomeo in the Umbrian countryside, Cucinelli is best known for their cashmere.  I think the look for both men and women is a great balance of casual sportswear and beautifully tailored pieces that are layered like a stylish Milanese guy would wear them.  The color palette always strikes me as soft and creamy, and my friend Mary, who has worked with pieces from the women’s line before, mentioned that the colors are all from nature so, season after season, you can add more items to complement your collection.  In that aspect, it reminds me of how Balmain used to be.  It’s luxurious without being ostentatious but—also like Balmain—it’s quite pricey with sport coats in the $2,000 to $3,000 range and those cotton trousers coming in at around $550.

So this preppy, somewhat conservative thing seems like a really comfortable fit for me, but I guess I have to ask myself if I’m ready to go there.  After all, isn’t fashion about challenging oneself?  How much of it is pushing one’s own boundaries?  Or maybe it’s expressing on the outside who we feel we are on the inside?  Maybe we should we just get credit for getting out of our fucking gym clothes.  I’m so confused.

Valas Los Angeles backpack

My Valas backpack

Either way, one thing I’ll be using a lot regardless of what I’m wearing is my brilliant new leather backpack from Valas Los Angeles.  This line was just launched a few months ago and the idea behind it is really kind of great: handmade luxury accessories with a hard edge.  My bag is in chestnut Italian cowhide lined in the softest lambskin and has a detachable iPad case right under the outside flap.  They also have some great women’s bags and the shoes are incredibly chic, too.  I stopped by the design studio last week and saw some of the ideas for next season, which involve buttery soft French lambskin in rich jewel tones.  The signature spikes that jut from the bottom of some of the ladylike handbags will continue on a couple of styles but you’ll also be able to get them without.  Those spikes and the other hardware specifically chosen for each bag have a soft hematite finish that never fights with your choice of jewelry, and I think that’s kind of genius.  For now, Valas Los Angeles is available exclusively at Traffic LA in the Beverly Center and I recommend stopping in before it’s all gone.

Much love,

xxJames

_____________________________