Bad guys have long known how to dress well, at least on film. From American actor John Barrymore’s 1932 portrayal of French author Maurice Leblanc’s gentleman-thief Arsene Lupin, during which the actor looked swell in white tie, to Jean Gabin’s turn as Max in 1954’s Touchez Pas Au Grisbi, possibly the best dressed role in cinematic history, celluloid criminals are often inspirational dressers.
In recent times the tradition has continued, with obvious highlights including Al Pacino in The Godfather trilogy (check out his grey shantung silk suit in the second film) and, albeit on the small screen, Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson and Michael K Williams as Chalky White in the inspirational Boardwalk Empire.
However, this isn’t merely a Hollywood conceit, as American writer Daniele Delerme Flores demonstrated in the book he published last year, The Best Dressed Man In The Room. In this the flashy outfits worn by American gangsters of the interwar years (think Lucky Luciano) are recorded in photographs, accompanied by a commentary that ensures Flores’s readers aren’t so dazzled by the outfits that they forget they’re looking at very bad men.
Closer to home the most famous British gangsters, the Kray twins, are currently being immortalised on film for the second time in ‘Legend’. Actor Tom Hardy (assisted by prosthetics) is playing both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, and the images released so far show him wearing a very sharp three-piece, double-breasted suit with a dark window-pane design, and a charcoal grey chesterfield overcoat. Chris is making the clothes that Hardy wears in the film, and while there’s little about the Kray twins a man would want to emulate, their tailoring is the exception.