As cool as a vintage Porsche 911, London-based tailor Mark Powell is the very definition of Style. So what's his take on this most personal of topics?
With a career spanning over three decades, Mark has dressed the likes of George Clooney, David Bowie and Harrison Ford, along with numerous celebrities from the world of music and sport. So who better to get an insight into just what Style means?
What’s your first style memory?
Getting my first pair of Levi’s aged six. The interest in fashion and style were there from a very young age. The skinhead/suedehead culture was happening at the time, when I was aged 10 or 11, and by then I was already one of the best dressed kids in the school, dressing more like the older kids. But at the same time I was starting to have a bit of an edge in how I was putting clothes together.
Who were your Style icons?
Back in the day it was David Bowie and Brian Ferry, people like that. By the time I was 18 I was creating my own style, blending influences from various decades.
It’s something people are born with, though there are people that aspire to, that read up and study it, but it ultimately comes from within.
The most important thing is that it’s your own individual interpretation, as opposed to imitating someone else’s style.
I think initially you’re influenced by something or someone else, but eventually you find your own Style.
Style's 'Drive Five'
Most memorable road trip?
Driving from one end of Cuba to the other in the 90s - Havana to Trinidad. The motorways were virtually empty and you’d stop and pick people up on the side of the road as you were travelling. One lady gave me a big cheese she’d got from a farm, so I gave her my aftershave in return. It was pretty overpowering but she loved it!
Before the Euro Star back in the late 80s and early 90s I used to drive to Paris to parties and have general fun. I remember one time we stopped off at some really weird place on the way home, its was almost like being in a David Lynch film. They were doing ballroom dancing on a Sunday afternoon, it was very surreal.
Ultimate Road Trip
I’d love to do East to West Coast in the States, stopping off at all those towns you’d never normally get to see.
Porsche of choice?
550 Spyder of course
Muhammad Ali, and Ava Gardner as one of my daughter’s named after her, actually, can I have Frank Sinatra as well?!
What’s your Style advice?
Don’t be a sheep and follow everyone else. Don’t do something just because it’s popular, find a look you feel good with and make it your own, your form of expression.
A lot of people don’t realise a suit is a great way to express style and individuality. For me, the suit is key. When fashion changes with different shapes and styles, it’s normally always influenced by a suit. Whether the jacket gets shorter or longer, shoulders get bigger, and that filters in to wider trends, so tailoring is a key.
Everything has got really casual, but the backlash against that means there’s development of style in recent years. The thing i do find a bit irritating is the vintage style thing, because they are wearing it like a costume, they look like the came off the set of Dad’s Army. My approach is to take the vintage style and update it to look contemporary, as opposed to looking like another uniform.
I think at the moment it's the trainers with the really big soles. It’s a pretty bad faux-pas. You not looking at them because they’re shocking or different, you’re looking at them because they’re stupid. The other thing is over-tight tailoring, and men over 45 wearing stretch trousers, almost like jeggings.
How much can you tell about a person by the way they dress?
Well it’s never done me any harm, it’s great for self confidence and how you present and project yourself. And I think looking good gives you a lot more respect with people, which isn’t a bad thing.
What’s also great is we ‘re getting a lot of young kids coming in, male and female. They look at someone like myself being able to give them good advice, yet they're still thinking individually.