Style / June 2017

What Does Classic Style Mean Today?

Alexander Kraft, the CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty France-Monaco, divulges on what classic style means to him.

Before getting down to brass tacks over the coming months and offering advice on a range of rakish subjects, from the perfect travel wardrobe to vintage automobiles, I wanted to share my personal style philosophy which, as befits a publication that has been founded as ‘the modern voice of classic elegance’, is decidedly, and unabashedly, ‘old school’.

My style icons are Gianni Agnelli, Stavros Niarchos, David Niven and Cary Grant. Jared Leto, Kanye West or Justin Bieber? Not so much…

Cary Grant and David Niven were true gentlemen who were not only always perfectly groomed and dressed, but also complemented their suave outfits with impeccable manners and smiles on their faces. They made their debonair appearances look easy and effortless, although in reality they put a lot of thought and effort into them. Italian Fiat heir Gianni Agnelli and Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos were, first and foremost, very savvy businessmen who, at the same time, loved life and lived it to the fullest. These men of the world had more style than most of their contemporaries, and brought a healthy dose of class and elegance to everything they did, whether that was planning a corporate takeover, living the high life in Capri or Gstaad, or just buying a croissant at the local bakery. Regardless of what they were doing you could count on them to do so in style, both sartorially and otherwise, unlike some of today’s ‘icons’ whose ‘style’ is only skin-deep and mainly on show when paparazzi are around.

I dress in style, not in fashion.

I am passionate about men’s style, but only mildly interested in men’s fashion. In my humble view, true style should have a timeless quality and be the outside reflection of one’s inner self. Some things either look good on you or they don’t, and no fashion trend is going to change that. A simple single breasted, well-cut dark blue suit will always look good on me (and most other men), even when current fashion propagates embroidered pajamas, pink varsity jackets and fur coats. I want to be able to look at pictures of myself in 10, 20 or even 40 years, and say to myself “Yeah, that still looks OK today”. Just look at a picture of Agnelli in the 1960s: You could dress the exact same way today and still cut a dashing figure. Now take a picture of Kanye West or Jared Leto and try the same in 10 years… see what I mean?

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Alexander Kraft